Published on January 4, 2008
Female Mate Preferences: Female Mate Preferences Samantha D. Toney & Richard L. Michalski Department of Psychology Hollins University Introduction: Introduction Focus on the men’s mate selection Little research conducted on women’s mate preferences Men value characteristics linked with fertility and health Women value characteristics linked with status and resources Introduction: Introduction Men evaluated as long term mates must be able to get, defend, and control resources Men who offer more resources are favored Introduction: Introduction Buss (2003) stresses importance of evaluating future resource potential Especially true for samples of young women Short term sexual relationships Resources less important Indicators of genetic quality Introduction: Introduction Hypothesis 1: Women will rate a partner’s physical attractiveness as more important in evaluating a short term than in a long term partner Introduction: Introduction One indicator of fertility is Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR) Cue to age and overall health Men prefer a WHR of .67 to .8 Younger Fewer anovulatory cycles Women’s targeting as mates by men may influence mating strategy Introduction: Introduction Women report preferences for men of certain WHR Prefer .9 to 1.0 Cues to health & genetic quality Introduction: Introduction Poaching defined as actions intended to attract someone away from an already existing relationship More than half of both sexes have been affected by poaching (Buss, 2003) Women slightly more likely to report poaching Most desirable mates are more likely to be targeted, less desirable mates are more likely to be successfully poached Introduction: Introduction Women’s self perceived mate value affects mating strategies (Clark, 2004) Women who perceive themselves as attractive are more likely to engage in short term mating tactics May be a result of attractive women’s ability to procure more resources from short term mates than long term mates More often targeted by men Introduction: Introduction Women’s preferences may vary depending upon their WHR May cause a difference in their ideal mate and their self perceived likely mate This might be a result of women keying into the preferences of men Introduction: Introduction Hypothesis 2: Mating behaviors will covary with women’s WHRs Prediction 2.1: Women with a higher WHR will report lower self perceived mate value than women with a lower WHR Prediction 2.2: The difference between reported ideal body type and likely body type will be larger for women with a higher WHR than with a lower WHR Introduction: Introduction Prediction 2.3: Women with a higher WHR will report fewer poaching attempts on them but more poaching attempts on others Prediction 2.4: Women with lower WHRs will place greater importance on ambition and industriousness in a potential long-term mate Introduction: Introduction The ratio between the 2nd and 4th digits (2D:4D) indicates prenatal androgen exposure Men tend to have a lower 2D:4D ratio relative to women Manning (2002) suggests that testosterone influences the growth of the 4th digit while estrogen influences the growth of the 2nd digit Introduction: Introduction Prenatal androgen exposure may be associated with expression of various measures of sexuality in later life We offer the following hypothesis & predictions as test of influence of androgen exposure on sexuality Introduction: Introduction Hypothesis 3: Mate preferences will differ among women with a low 2D:4D ratio and a high 2D:4D ratio Prediction 3.1: Women with a low 2D:4D ratio will rate status and resources as less important in a mate than women with a high 2D:4D ratio Prediction 3.2: Women with a low 2D:4D ratio will rate attractiveness as more important in a mate than women with a high 2D:4D ratio Introduction: Introduction Prediction 3.3: The difference in the body types of ideal and likely mates will be lower among women with a low 2D:4D ratio than with a high 2D:4D ratio Introduction: Introduction Women’s mate preferences may vary depending on the sex to whom they are attracted Women attracted to other women are likely to have different preferences than those exclusively attracted to men Resources less important Hypothesis 4: Women exclusively attracted to men, relative to women attracted to other women, will place greater importance on resources and indicators of genetic quality in a prospective long term mate. Method: Method College age females Recruited from psychology classes Completed survey Demographic information (e.g., age, relationship status, sexual orientation) Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (Simpson & Gangestad, 1996) Includes questions that assess willingness to engage in sexual intercourse without development of indices of commitment Method: Method Asked to circle body type of an ideal partner and a partner whom they are likely to be in a relationship Method: Method Mate preferences (Buss, 1988) 18 characteristics Response to scales from undesirable to indispensable for items such as good looks, intelligence, good cook and housekeeper 2 additional questions (sexually promiscuous, sexually open) Short term partner & long term partner Method: Method Self-Perceived Mating Success (SPMS; Lalumiere & Quinsey, 1996) 12 questions “Members of the opposite sex that I like tend to like me back.” “I do not receive many compliments from members of the opposite sex.” Method: Method Mate poaching (Schmitt & Buss, 2001) “Are you in a romantic relationship right now with a partner whom you attracted (or attracted you) away from someone else?” Method: Method Returned surveys at schedule time Asked to complete additional procedures Photocopies of hands Measurements of waist and hip circumference Used digital caliper to calculate length of fingers Steel anthropometric measuring tape to take waist and hip measurements Both were later coded into ratios Results: Results Preliminary analyses & variable construction Self-perceived Mating Success ( = .81) Recoded sexual orientation to capitalize on greater statistical power (1 = attracted exclusively to men, 2 = attracted to women) 2D:4D ratios recoded Median split (1 = Low, 2 = High) Relationship status and age included as covariates in all relevant analyses Results: Results Participants (N = 71) Age Range 18 to 38 years M = 20.58 (SD = 3.21) Ethnicity 82% Caucasian, 4% African American, 1% Asian, 1% Hispanic, 12% Other Sexual orientation Heterosexual (n = 56), Homosexual (n = 2), Bisexual (n = 13) Results: Results Hypothesis 1 “Good looks” was only characteristic rated more important in short-term than in long-term partner, t(69) = 5.03, p < .0001. All other characteristics except chastity, sexual promiscuity, and sexual openness (ns) were valued significantly more in a prospective long term partner (all p’s < .01) Hypothesis 1 supported Results: Results “Good looks” was rated as the 3rd most important characteristic in a short term partner (14th most important factor used in evaluating long term mate) Results: Results Prediction 2.1: Women with a higher WHR will report lower self perceived mate value than women with a low WHR. Partial correlation coefficient controlling for relationship status & age pr (67) = -.38, p < .001 Prediction 2.1 supported Results: Results Prediction 2.2: The difference between reported ideal body type and likely body type will be larger for women with a higher WHR than with a lower WHR. pr (64) = -.15, p > .05 Prediction 2.2 not supported Results: Results Prediction 2.3: Women with a higher WHR will report fewer poaching attempts on them and more poaching attempts on others. Median split of WHR (1 = Low, 2 = High) 19% of women with high WHR reported being in a romantic relationship with someone they attracted from someone else compared to 3% of women with low WHR, χ2 (n = 71) = 4.89, p < .05. Results: Results No significant difference between high and low WHR participants reporting being in relationships with partner who attracted them from another, χ2 (n = 71) = .17, p > .05. Prediction 2.3 mixed support Results: Results Prediction 2.4: Women with lower WHRs will place greater importance on ambition and industriousness in a potential long term mate. pr (66) = -.20, p < .05 Prediction 2.4 supported Results: Results Prediction 3.1: Women with a low 2D:4D ratio will rate status and resources as less important in a mate than women with a high 2D:4D ratio. F (1, 67) = 2.9, p = .08 Marginally significant in predicted direction Prediction 3.1 not supported Results: Results Prediction 3.2: Women with a low 2D:4D ratio will score higher on sociosexuality than women with a high 2D:4D ratio. F (1, 63) = 4.78, p < .05 Women with low 2D:4D ratio reported more unrestricted sexual strategy Prediction 3.2 supported Results: Results Prediction 3.3: The difference in the body types of ideal and likely mates will be lower among women with a low 2D:4D ratio than with a high 2D:4D ratio. F (1, 63) = 1.9, p > .05 Prediction 3.3 not supported Results: Results Hypothesis 4: Women exclusively attracted to men, relative to women attracted to other women, will place greater importance on resources and indicators of genetic quality in a prospective long term mate. Results: Results Women exclusively attracted to men scored significantly higher than women attracted to other women on good cook and housekeeper, financial prospects, desire for home and children, similar religious background, ambition & industriousness, & good health (all F’s < .01) Women attracted to other women did not score significantly higher on any of the 20 listed mate preferences Discussion: Discussion Support for Hypotheses 1 & 4 Mixed support for Hypotheses 2 & 3 Attractiveness more important in short term mates WHR Women with high WHR have a lower self perceived mate value Women with high WHR more likely to engage in poaching Higher importance on ambition and industriousness in long term mates Discussion: Discussion 2D:4D Women with low 2D:4D do not place less importance on status and resources Difference between ideal and likely mates did not vary significantly between women with low and high 2D:4D Discussion: Discussion Women exclusively attracted to men scored higher on characteristics associated with resource provisioning & genetic quality Women with higher WHR report engaging in poaching more than reported poaching attempts on them (cf., Schmitt & Buss, 2001) Discussion: Discussion Limitations Self report Sample size Future directions Examine older and younger women’s mate preferences Further explore how WHR & 2D:4D feed into women’s mating psychology Valuable insights gained from examining women’s mating psychology in contexts such as WHR, 2D:4D, sexual orientation
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