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Women’s Long Term Mating Strategies


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Title: Women’s Long Term Mating Strategies

Womens Long Term Mating Strategies
  • chapter 4

Non-human Species
  • Weaverbird

Evolutionary History
  • Problem of selecting a man who would be willing
    to commit long-term
  • Over thousands of generations, preference for men
    who showed signs of being willing and able to
    commit evolved in women
  • This preference solved key reproductive problems

3 Important issues that are key to understanding
the evolution of mate preferences
  • 1- Why has sexual reproduction evolved?
  • 2- the definition of the 2 distinct types that
    exist in sexually reproducing species-males and
    females- and the related issue of influence of
    parental investment on the nature of mating
  • 3- mate preferences as evolved psychological

1- Why has sexual reproduction evolved? Asexual
vs. Sexual Reproduction
  • Asexual
  • Advantages
  • Avoid problem of selecting a mate
  • All genes are passed on offspring are identical
    copies of parents
  • These advantages of asexual reproduction are the
    precise disadvantages of sexual reproduction
  • Big ?? What advantages could sexual reproduction
    provide that
  • would be so large that it would
    outweigh all the costs?

Sexual Reproduction - Consequences
  • Problems in mate selection and courting (can be
    costly in time and resources)
  • Genetically Diverse Offspring offspring are
    genetically different from parents and each other
    (siblings genetically related by only 50)
  • Diff individuals have different survival
    requirements, which allows them to inhabit a
    broader array of niches and cuts down on
  • Parasite Theory of the origins of sex
    genetically different offspring provide a
    different host environment for parasites compared
    w/original host parasites are thus thwarted
  • Sexual reproduction may have helped host
    organisms and their offspring combat parasites-
    providing such a benefit that it outweighs the

Serious adaptive problem posed by sexual
reproduction finding a mate
Parental Investment and sexual selection
  • Gametes mature reproductive cells
  • Zygote a fertilized gamete
  • Males
  • - Small gametes
  • - Greater mobility
  • - Produce millions of sperm (replenished at a
    rate of 12 million per hour)
  • - Sexual intercourse requires minimal male
  • Females
  • - Large gametes
  • - Stationary
  • - Loaded with nutrients
  • - Produce a fixed and unreplenishable lifetime
    supply of about 400 ova
  • Women have a greater initial investment
  • This investment continues into the nine-month
    pregnancy term and breastfeeding

Parental Investment and sexual selection
  • The large initial parental investment of women
    makes them a valuable reproductive resource
  • Women in evolutionary past risked investing
    enormously as a consequence of sex, evolution
    favored women who were highly selective about
    their mates
  • - Birth Control suggestion that women can now
    have short-term sexual encounters with
    less fear of pregnancy
  • discussion ?? do you think birth control has
    had an effect on the way women view casual
    sex? (are women less selective?)
  • - Do you think this possible
    change is a good or bad thing?
  • (for women? for men? for reproduction in

Triverss Theory of Parental Investment and
Sexual Selection
  • Two profound predictions
  • (1) The sex that invests more in offspring
  • women) will be more discriminating or
    selective about mating
  • (2) The sex that invests less will be more
  • competitive for sexual access to the
  • investing sex

Mate Preferences as Evolved Psychological
  • From among the thousands of ways in which men
    differ, selection over hundreds of thousands of
    years focused womens preferences on the most
    adaptively valuable characteristics
  • Gauging a mans mating value requires looking
    beyond his current situation and evaluating his
    potential (medical student)
  • Evolution has favored women who prefer men
    possessing attributes that confer benefits
  • Selecting a mate
  • Women must identify and correctly evaluate the
    cues that signal whether a man indeed possesses a
    particular resource (deceive women about status,
  • Women must integrate their knowledge about a
    prospective mate
  • Selecting a mate requires psychological
    mechanisms that make it possible to add up the
    relevant attributes and give each its appropriate
    weight in the whole

The Content of Womens Mate Preferences
Womens mate preferences are played out in our
popular culture
  • Older men Somethings Gotta Give
  • High social status, attractive men Sex and
  • the City

  • Discussion of the characteristics scale
  • What characteristics did you rate as
  • What is it about those characteristics that
    makes them so
  • important to you?
  • Do you think your preference for these
    characteristics is an
  • innate preference, or a preference you learned
  • somewhere else (possibly experience)?
  • What characteristics did you rate as not
    important or irrelevant?
  • Why are these characteristics less important to
    you in a
  • mate?

Link http//faculty.oxy.edu/clint/evolution/notes
Womens and Mens Mate Preferences
Preference for Economic Resources
  • Gray Shrike bird
  • Wherever females show a mating preference, the
    males resources are often the key criterion
  • The evolution of this preference requires 3
  • 1- resources must be accruable, defensible, and
    controllable by men throughout history
  • 2- men must differ in their holdings and
    willingness to invest them in a woman
  • 3- advantages of being w/1 man must outweigh
    those of being with several
  • these are easily met in humans Tools, Territory
  • Primates
  • Women needed cues to signal a mans possession of
    resources (personality, physical ability,
    reputation) economic resources is the most
    obvious cue

Preference for Good Financial Prospects
  • Study in 1939, 1956, 1967, and mid-1980s (Hill
    Hudson Henze McGinnis)
  • Women valued good financial prospects in a mate
    twice as much as did men
  • In personal ads and magazines, female advertisers
  • financial resources 11 times as often as men
  • Cross-Cultural Study (Buss, Abbott, Angleitner,
    et al., 1990) 37 cultures,
  • monogamous and polygamous, various religious
  • groups, political systems
  • Women from all of the cultures placed more value
    than men on good financial prospects
  • Women valued financial resources twice as much
  • These findings provided the first cross-cultural
    evidence supporting the evolutionary basis for
    the psychology of human mating
  • Link to figure on financial preference
  • Clip Sex and the City
  • ?? What about poor men? Do they have any hope
    of marrying up in society? What is societys
    reaction when a woman marries below her class?

Preference for High Social Status
  • Proof that historical cultures had words/phrases
    to describe men who were in high social status
  • Social status is a universal cue to the
    possession of resources
  • Status implies better food, abundant territory,
    health care
  • More social opportunities for children
  • Study by Buss and Schmitt (1993), examining
    short- and long-term mating test which
    characteristics people valued in potential
    spouses vs potential sex partners
  • Likelihood of success in a profession and
    Possession of a promising career were both highly
    desirable (higher in a spouse than sex partner)
  • For the majority of the 37 cultures in the study,
    it was found that women valued social status in a
    possible mate more than men (both in Communist
    and Socialist countries
  • Ancestral Women
  • -- appear to have solved the adaptive problem of
    acquiring resources in part by preferring men who
    are high in status
  • Link to the table of results from study
  • http//faculty.oxy.edu/clint/evolution/notes/12/fi

Preference for Older Men
  • Age is a clue to resources (they command respect,
    status, position)
  • In all 37 cultures in study, women preferred
    older men (3 1/2 yrs older)
  • Actual average age difference b/w brides and
  • Older age, resources, and status are coupled
    across cultures
  • Tiwi people
  • Traditional societies age may be related to
    physical strength and hunting prowess (strength
    increases with age, peaking in early 30s)
  • After 30s, decline is compensated for by
    increased knowledge, skill, wisdom
  • Much older men higher risk of dying, less
    likely to be around to
  • continue providing for and protecting
  • Link to table of results http//faculty.oxy.edu/c

- Economic Resources - - Financial Prospects - -
Social Status - - Older men -
  • These preferences add up to the ability of a man
    to acquire and
  • control resources that ancestral women could use
    for themselves
  • and children

Women also need men who posses traits that are
likely to lead to the sustained acquisition of
resources over time
Preference for Ambition and Industriousness
  • Industrious and ambitious men secure a higher
    occupational status
  • In a study, women regard men who lack ambition as
    extremely undesirable, whereas men view lack of
    ambition as neither desirable nor undesirable
  • Rated b/w important and indispensable
  • Excellent signal of the continuation of present
  • Ancestral Women
  • -- helped solve the critical adaptive problem of
    securing resources
  • -- helped them gauge the likelihood of future
    resources when direct and
  • easily observable signs of resources were

Preference for Dependability and Stability
  • Second and third most highly valued
    characteristics (after love) are a dependable
    character and emotional stability
  • These characteristics possess great value to
  • 1- they are reliable signals that resources
    will be provided consistently over time
  • 2- men who lack these provide erratically and
    inflict heavy
  • emotional and other costs on their mate
  • ? These are qualities that signal increased
    likelihood that a womans resources will not be
    drained by the man
  • Ancestral Women erratic supply of resources
    could wreak havoc with accomplishing the goals
    required for survival and reproduction

Preference for Athletic Prowess
  • A cue for physical protection
  • Barbara Smuts - during evolutionary history,
    physical protection was one of the most important
    things a man could offer a woman
  • Aggressive men wishing to physically dominate and
    circumvent womens sexual choices may have
    exerted a selection pressure on ancestral women
  • Current number of rape incidences today help
    support this preference
  • A preference for men 511 is ideal for a
    marriage partner
  • In personal ads where women mentioned height, 80
    wanted a man taller than 6
  • Seeking I am seeking a man with above average
    height (5'11"" and above). I WILL NOT date anyone
    less than that. I'm not superficial -- just
    honest and I know what I like and want and will
    settle for nothing less. (www.singlesonline.com)
  • Height I am extremely attracted to but not
    limited to tall men (6'2 and up).
  • Tall men received more responses to their
    personal ads than did short men
  • traits of male body structure such as height,
    shoulder width, and upper-body musculature are
    sexually attractive to women and intimidating to
    other men (Barber, 1995, p. 406)

Preference for Good Health and Physical Appearance
  • Unhealthy Mates
  • -- Higher risk of becoming debilitated (fail to
    provide resources)
  • -- Increased risk of dying (cut off resources,
    must find a new mate)
  • -- Transfer diseases or viruses to the woman
    (impair her survival)
  • -- Risk passing on unhealthy genes or poor health
    to children
  • Men and Women both place a high value on health
    in a mate
  • Peacocks
  • Their bright plumage serves as a signal of a low
  • of parasites
  • One cue for the health of a mate is Symmetry
    (Thornhill, Gangestad, Grammer,
    Schackelford, Larsen, and others)
  • The degree to which the face and the body are
  • Various events and genetic stressors produced
    deviations from bilateral symm.
  • Symmetry reflects the ability to withstand
    environmental and genetic stressors

Symmetry in the Human Face Marquardt Beauty
Analysis (MBA) www.beautyanalysis.com
  • the form of beauty is composed of 2 things
    symmetry, harmony
  • 1- Symmetry the mirror image of parts or
    components about an
  • axis. By all accounts a beautiful face is
    symmetric along the y-axis.
  • 2- Harmony a recurring theme
  • With the use of mathematics, computers, and
    databases full of attractive faces, MBA has
    been able to quantify facial attractiveness in a
    consistent computer model
  • The Golden Facial Mask based on a series of
    ratios and geometric shapes
  • -- From this mask comes the archetypal human
  • Link to MBA http//www.beautyanalysis.com/index

As you can see, these archetypal faces are
symmetrical and made up of a series of recurrent
geometric shapes and patterns.
An example of how a (beautiful) persons face
fits this Golden Facial Mask
The average face deviates from the Archetypal
Human Face
The ugly face does not fit into the mask at all
the nose is too wide, eyes are too far apart,
cheekbones too rounded, etc
Preference for Good Health and Physical Appearance
  • Another cue stems from Masculine Features
  • Men have longer and broader lower jaws, stronger
    brow ridges, and more pronounced cheekbones
    (consequence of testosterone)
  • Women preferred mens faces that were more
    masculine-looking than avg.
  • Masculine features are a sign of good health
  • Production of high levels of testosterone
    compromises the immune system
  • Only men who are healthy can afford to produce
    high levels
  • QuickTime movie study supports this
  • The benefits of a healthy mate
  • longer life
  • More reliable provisioning
  • Lower likelihood of communicable diseases
  • Better genes that can be passed on to children

Love and Commitment
  • Gauging commitment requires looking for cues that
    signal the likelihood of future fidelity in
    channeling resources
  • LOVE may be one of the key cues to commitment
  • Found the presence of romantic love in 88.5 of
  • Study examined acts of love (Buss, 1988a)
  • Acts of commitment were viewed as most central to
  • Giving up romantic relations with others, talking
    of marriage, expressing a desire to have children
  • When performed by a man, these acts signal intent
    to commit resources

  • Fidelity remaining faithful
  • Channeling of resources to the loved one giving
    expensive gifts
  • Emotional support being available, listening to
  • Channeling of time, energy, and effort to the
    partners needs at the expense of fulfilling
    ones own needs
  • Acts of reproduction
  • All of these signal the commitment of sexual,
    economic, emotional, and genetic resources to one
  • Sex and the City Why do some women want men
    who refuse
  • to commit? Why do some women only like
  • to chase men?

  • Seen as indispensable for marriage
  • 89 of American women, 82 of Japanese women, and
    59 of Russian women said that they require love
    for marriage, even if all other important
    qualities were met (Sprecher et al., 1994)
  • In the international study (rating the 18
    characteristics), LOVE WAS GIVEN THE TOP RATING
    (most highly valued in a potential mate)

Preference for Willingness to Invest in Children
  • This adaptive problem is important for 2 reasons
  • 1- Men sometimes seek sexual variety and so
    may channel their efforts toward other
    women (mating) rather than toward children
  • 2- Men evaluate the likelihood that they are
    the actual genetic father of a child
    and tend to withhold investment from the child
    when they know or think the child is not
  • Study by La Cerra
  • Slide images of men in 5 different contexts
  • -- women rated each image on how attractive
    they found the man in each
  • slide as a date, sexual partner, marriage
    partner, friend, and neighbor
  • Results womens ratings of the attractiveness of
    men as potential mates are increased by cues of
    their affection toward a child and decreased by
    cues of their indifference toward a child in
  • Replicated same study with images of women for
    men to rate
  • Results Mens attractiveness judgments were the
    same across all contexts

Recap from Tuesday
  • 3 Issues that are key to the evolution of mate
  • 1- Evolution of Sexual Reproduction
    genetically diverse offspring help combat
  • 2- Parental investment females have greater
    investment, choosier about mates
  • 3- Mate preferences as evolved psychological
  • The Content of Womens Mate Preferences
  • Economic Resources
  • Good Financial Prospects
  • High social status cue to the possession of
  • Older men coupled with resources and status
  • Ambition and Industriousness likelihood of
    future resources
  • Dependability and Stability (rated 2nd and 3rd)
  • Athletic Prowess physical protection
  • Good Health and Physical Appearance live
    longer, continuation of resources
  • Love and Commitment ranked first of all the
    characteristics desired in a mate
  • Willingness to Invest in Children - reproduction

Context Effects on Womens Mate Preferences
  • Womens preferences in a mate should depend in
    part on relevant contexts
  • Womens personal resources
  • Temporal context (committed vs casual mating)
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Womens mate value
  • Geographical Location

Effects of Womens Personal Resources
  • Structural Powerlessness Hypothesis (Buss
    Barnes, 1986 Eagly Wood, 1999)
  • Because women are typically excluded from power
    and access to resources, women seek mates who
    have power, status, and earning capacity
  • Men do not value economic resources in a mate
    because they already have control over these
  • Problems with this hypothesis
  • Bakweri women despite their access to money and
    mates, they still prefer mates with
  • College women prefer intelligent men with signs
    of ambition
  • Successful women with resources - place an even
    greater value on mates
  • who have professional degrees,
    high status, and greater
    intelligence, and who are tall, independent,
    and self-confident
  • ? These directly contradict the Structural
    Powerlessness hypothesis
  • ?? Why do you think successful women place an
    even greater value on
  • successful men with resources than less
    successful women?

Effects of Temporal Context
  • Study by Buss and Schmitt (1993)
  • Womens preferences shift depending on whether a
    marriage partner or casual sex partner is sought
  • Study by Scheib (1997)
  • In long-term marital context, women chose
    character over looks
  • Women emphasize character traits over
    attractiveness when evaluating a potential husband

Effects of Menstrual Cycle
  • Chance of becoming pregnant increases in late
    follicular phase as women approach ovulation and
    is lowest in the postovulation phase
  • Preferences that occur in late follicular phase
    could reflect mate choice for good genes
  • Good genes hypothesis seems to find support in
    research findings
  • Sense of smell increases at or just before
  • Study on smelly T-shirts (Thornhill Gangestead,
  • Link to study (Blackboard External Links)
  • Ovulatory-Shift Hypothesis When women are likely
    to conceive, their preference shifts toward more
    masculine-looking male faces and the scents from
    men who are more symmetrical
  • The attractiveness of traits that are supposed to
    make good life partners-kindness, intelligence,
    potential for wealth-are unchanged across the
    monthly cycle (Gangestead, 2006)
  • These might reflect adaptations in women to
    become fertilized by the healthiest men

Ovulatory-Shift Hypothesis Adaptations to
ovulation Implications for sexual and social
behavior Gangestead, S. W., Thornhill, R.,
Garver-Apgar, C.E
  • when fertile, women prefer
  • The scent of a symmetrical man women preferred
    the scent of symmetrical men
  • Masculine features women prefer more masculine
    faces, particularly when
  • they rate mens sexiness, not
    attractiveness, as long-term mates
  • Behavioral displays of social presence and
    intrasexual competitiveness women found men who
    were confident and who acted condescending
    toward their male competitors (in a video tape
    interview) as more sexy
  • Vocal masculinity when rating mens short-term
    attractiveness, women find
  • masculine (deep) voices more
  • Talent versus wealth when faced with trade-offs
    between talent (creativity)
  • and wealth, women choose talent more often,
    but only when evaluating mens short-term
    mating attractiveness
  • ? Men judged to be faithful were rated as less
    sexy mid-cycle than at other times
  • ? womens preference for men other than their
    current partners also rises

Male Counterstrategies to the Ovulatory-Shift
  • If womens interest in their current partners is
    lowered during fertility, men should have been
    under selection to take additional steps to
    prevent them from seeking extra-pair sex at this
  • Cues of womens fertility status
  • Men find the scent of ovulating women
    particularly attractive
  • Men also judge womens faces as more attractive
  • Womens behavior may also change too
  • Gangestead et al. (2002) found that male
    vigilance of partners mid-cycle was predicted by
    enhanced female interest in extra-pair men and
    not their partners
  • Men may be particularly vigilant of their
    partners mid-cycle, when their partners least
    want them to be

Effects of Womens Mate Value
  • Mate value ones overall desirability to men
  • physical attractiveness and youth
  • Womens self-rated attractiveness was
    significantly linked to attraction to masculine
  • Personal Ads (Canada, America, and Poland)
  • Women with higher mate value specified a longer
    list of traits that they sought or required in a
    potential mate
  • They also tended to impose higher minimum
    standards in their mate requirements
    specifically on social status, intelligence, and
    family orientation
  • Women who are higher in mate value prefer and
    seek men who are higher in mate value
    masculinity, symmetry, and the number of
    qualities that contribute to mens desirability

Geographical Location
  • In personal ads, women who live in more densely
    populated cities or cities where there is a
    higher cost of living make greater demands for
    resources in a mate

How Womens Mate Preferences Affect Actual Mating
  • For preferences to evolve, they must affect
    actual mating
  • decisions at least some of the time
  • Sources of evidence that preferences do affect
    mating decision
  • Womens responses to mens personal ads
  • Womens marriages to men high in occupational
  • Womens marriages to older men

Womens Responses to Mens Personal Ads
  • Study by Baize and Schroeder (1995), found
    several variables that significantly predicted
    the number of responses men received
  • 1 Age women responded more often to older men
  • 2 Income and Education responded more to men
    with ads
  • indicating higher income and more years of
  • Study in Poland received similar results men
    with higher levels of education, men who were
    somewhat older, men who were taller, and men who
    offered more resources all received a larger
    number of responses from women

Personal Ads Women Seeking
Seeking I want honesty. I want a man who is
handsome and successful and knows how to treat a
sweetsteph72 I am looking for friendship and
love on this journey we call life! Orientation
Straight     Age 34
sassysmile A Sense of humor, a dab of old
fashioned charm, a splash of confidence, and a
pinch of wit.... makes for a man to turn this
girl's head! Orientation Straight     Age 39
Gentleman who posses Virtues, Moral, Respect,
Sincerity, Honesty
I am seeking a handsome 6'3"" or taller, toned,
mature man, 38-46. You must be strong,
passionate, romantic, secure, open-minded, kind,
caring, fatherly role model, a good listener, and
very loving. I am NOT looking for a fling or one
night stand.
mayagirl622 I would like to meet a guy who has a
great personality and a good sense of humor. He
would need to be open, honest and trustworthy,
sincere, dependable, genuine and just an
all-around likeable guy. Orientation Straight
    Age 32
Womens Marriages to Men High in Occupational
  • Physically attractive women marry men who are
    higher in social status and financial holdings
  • Womens physical attractiveness correlated more
    strongly with her husbands status than did other
    womens variables such as class of origin
  • Attractive women are in a position to get what
    they want
  • They appear to select the qualities that most
    women desiremen with status and resources

Womens Marriages to Men Are Older
  • In every country from the international study,
    grooms were older on average than brides
  • Mens preferences for younger women may also
    affect the actual age differences b/w brides and

Lesbian Sexual Orientation
  • Occurs in 1-2 of women (Bailey et al., 1997)
  • Female sexuality appears to be far more flexible
    over the lifespan than male sexual orientation
    (Baumeister, 2000)
  • Variability within those classified as lesbian
    or gay
  • ? mate preferences vary across lesbians who
    describe themselves as
  • butch as opposed to femme
  • - Butch lesbians are more masculine,
    dominant, assertive
  • - have higher levels of testosterone, more
    permissive attitudes towards casual sex, more
    masculine waist-to-hip ratios, less desire for
  • - place less value on financial resources when
    seeking partners but
  • experience more jealousy over rivals who are
    more financially successful
  • - Femme lesbians are more sensitive,
    cheerful, and feminine
  • - place greater importance on financial
    resources when seeking partners and
    experience sexual jealousy over more attractive
  • ? These imply that butch and femme are not
    simply labels, but rather
  • reflect genuine differences
  • Their origins still remain a mystery

Discussion Questions
  • Not very many individuals meet all the criteria
    set by mate preferences. They may have the
    physical characteristics (healthy, attractive)
    but lack in resources or financial prospects so
    which of the preferences are most important
  • For a typical relationship to survive (love vs.
  • For successful reproduction and offspring
  • What about romance? Does anyone have a list of
    things (mental or on paper) that they must have
    in a mate? (things like must be romantic, must be
    willing to dance with me, etc) What OTHER
    qualities do you look for in a partner?

  • The Masai of Kenya video
  • The women view multiple wives as a good thing
  • Women have many jobs more co-wives means a
    greater divide of the work
  • Polygamy A True Story of 1 Husband and 8 Wives
  • Link to video Polygamy 1- A True Story of 1
    Husband and 8 Wives
  • Questions for discussion
  • In the search for a mate who is willing to
    commit, why would a woman choose a partner that
    she has to share with other women?
  • Although these women say they like their
    polygamist lifestyle, do you think they would
    choose a monogamous relationship if given the
  • What do you think about polygamy in todays
    society? What might be the advantages of being in
    a polygamist relationship?

The Evolution of Human Mate Choice
  • Mate Choice in Non-Human Species
  • OSR (operational sex ratio) the ratio of
    sexually active males to sexually active females
    in a given breeding population related to rate
    of reproduction
  • One result of female mate choice is the evolution
    of exaggerated male traits
  • Related to immunocompetence the ability to
    resist infection by parasites
  • Mate Choice in Humans
  • Reproductive potential the individuals ability
    invest in the growth, development, and later
    social and reproductive competencies of
  • Reproductive investment the expenditure of this
    potential offspring
  • Divorce a womans decision to stay married or
    not is influenced by the quality and quantity of
    resources provided by her husband
  • Cross-cultural study, inadequate support is
    reported as the cause for divorce in 21 societies
    and ascribed exclusively to the husband in all
    but 1 case (Betzing, as cited in Geary D.C.,
    Vigil, J., Byrd-Craven, J., 2004)
  • Across age, ethnic status, and socioeconomic
    status, women preferred husbands who were better
    educated than they were and who earned more money
    than they did
  • Found this pattern for women ranging in age fro
    20s to 60s
  • When women are forced to make trade-offs b/w a
    marriage partners cultural success and other
    important traits such as physical attractiveness,
    a prospective marriage partners cultural success
    is rated as a necessity and other characteristics
    as a luxury

  • Preference for culturally successful men is found
    in studies of singles ads and fiction novels
  • 1,000 lonely hearts ads, found that British
    women were 3x more likely than British men to
    seek financial security in prospective partner
    (McGrew, 1994)
  • Japanese women were 31x more likely than Japanese
    men to seek financial security and social status
    (9.4 of women sought, .3 of men) (Oda, 2001)
  • Same themes were found across 25 contemporary
    romance novels and 6 classic novels that have
    appealed to women more than men (2 stories from
    Old T.)
  • In these stories, the male protagonist is almost
    always an older, socially dominant, and wealthy
  • Study of more than 1,800 Hungarian men and women
    (35 yrs or older) found that women who had
    married older and better educated men on avg. had
    more children, were less likely to get divorced,
    and reported higher levels of marital
  • Many women prefer men with whom they can develop
    an intimate and emotionally satisfying
    relationship with
  • More common in middle- and upper-class Western
    cultures than in any other cultures
  • In many non-Western contexts, women are more
    focused on keeping their children alive than on
    developing intimacy with their husbands (Masai

  • Physical Attractiveness and Good Genes
  • Indicators of mans physical and genetic health
  • Women prefer a taller than avg. man with an
    athletic and symmetric body shape, including a .9
    waist-to-hip ratio, and shoulders that are
    somewhat wider than their hips
  • Facial features larger eyes, large smile area,
    prominent cheek bones and chin
  • Shackelford and Larson (1997) found that men with
    less symmetric facial features were less
    physically active, manifested more symptoms of
    depression or anxiety, and reported more minor
    physical problems than their peers with more
    symmetric faces
  • Also have higher basal metabolic rates, lower
    IQs, and fewer sexual partners
  • Physically smaller and less robust men are less
    likely to be chosen as marriage partners
    (Phillips et al., 2001) (Nettle, 2002)

  • Womens mate/marriage choices are also influenced
    by mens immune-system genes
  • Women are not directly aware of this, but
    immune-system genes are signaled thru pheromones
    and women respond to these scents (especially
    when fertile)
  • In terms of disease-resistance, the best outcome
    for offspring occurs when there is high
    variability in immune-system genes
  • A study found that women rated the scents of men
    with dissimilar immune-system genes as more
    pleasant and sexy than the scents of men with
    similar immune-system genes (Wedekind et al.,
  • Ober found that couples with dissimilar
    immune-system genes conceived more quickly (2 vs
    5 months) and had fewer spontaneous abortions
    than did couples with more similar genes (1997)
  • Physically attractive women rated
    masculine-looking men as more attractive
    long-term partners than did other women,
    presumably b/c attractive women are better able
    to divert (thru threats of abandonment) the
    activities of those attractive men from mating
    effort to parental effort (Little et al., 2001)

Alternative Mating Strategies
  • Women can sometimes benefit from engaging in
    short-term sexual relationships or with someone
    other than her partner (or polyandry)
  • Allow women to secure additional material
    resources for themselves and children or allow
    women to mate with physically attractive men and
    thus secure better genes for their children
  • Short-Term Mates
  • Mens preference for short-term mates and sexual
    variety creates a demand that some women use for
    financial gains
  • Some women appear to engage in short-term sexual
    relationships when they see the potential for
    future development of a long-term relationship
  • Extra-Pair Sex
  • 20 of American women reported engaging in at
    least 1 extra-marital affair, some resulting in
  • When women initiated an infidelity, occurred
    around time of ovulation
  • Cuckoldry is common (male partner parenting
    another males offspring)
  • Dynamics of womens EPCs appear to be influenced
    by hormonal fluctuations

  • Serial Monogamy and Polyandry
  • For many women, marriage to a socially dominant,
    wealthy, and physically attractive man who is
    devoted to her and her children is not achievable
  • To adjust, some women develop a successive series
    of relationships with a number of men or several
    simultaneously, each of whom provides some
    investment during the course of the relationship
  • South American Indian societies women engage in
    sexual relations with men who are not their
    social partners, especially after becoming
    pregnant. These secondary fathers are obligated
    to provide material resources and protection to
    the womans child. The confusion of paternity is
    such that both the primary and secondary fathers
    invest in the child
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