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What Men and Women Want Evolutionary Psychology Dr. Kline Summer 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "What Men and Women Want Evolutionary Psychology Dr. Kline Summer 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Men and Women Want Evolutionary Psychology Dr. Kline Summer 2005

2 I. What Women Want According to the evolutionary theory, men and women want different things in a mate. What is the reasoning behind this logic according to the Evolutionary theory? As women have a greater physiological investment in reproduction (9 month gestation, lactation), their preferences for what they want in long term mates differs from that of men who have a much lower investment in procreation.

3 Costs associated with mating for women: Costs associated with mating (sexual intercourse) in the past could result in a pregnancy for a female. This meant: a long gestation (40 weeks) child birth Nursing Nurturing Protecting the child/children As these costs are high, a female in the past couldnt indiscriminately mate with just any male. She had to be selective, choosing a male willing to invest resources into her and their children.

4 Modern Day Advances in contraception as well as in methods to terminate unwanted pregnancies, have allowed women more freedom like men, to explore more casual mating relationships. Nevertheless, even though our social structure has changed rapidly, our biology which evolved over millions of years to cope with ancestral adaptive problems hasnt caught up with modern times. Hence, our preferences for mates willing to invest in us & our offspring persist…

5 Factors women evaluate in prospective mates: Financial capacity Social Status (power) Age Ambitious/Industriousness Dependability/Stability Intelligence Compatibility Size and Strength Health Love, commitment

6 Why women want men with resources: Females have historically preferred males with resources they are willing to invest in her & her offspring. Since men have traditionally monopolized access to important, but scarce resources, it was advantageous for women to seek out a specific male who wanted to share these resources with her. Hence, women evolved preferences for males with resources for her and her childrens survival.

7 1. Financial Capacity Women tend to prefer mates with access to economic resources (money, real estate, investments, stocks) more than men do. A study in 1939 had American men & women rate the desirability of 18 characteristics for a potential marriage partner. Women were twice as likely as men to rate good financial prospects in a mate as important. This finding was replicated in 1956 and again in In the mid-80s this study was replicated once again and the same result found. World-wide studies also confirm this.

8 2. Social Status Women tend to desire men of higher social status, because men in power have control of resources. Women tend to view mates with higher social status or in a high-status profession as being only slightly less important than good financial prospects. Women place emphasis on education and professional degrees in mates (characteristics strongly linked with high status). Lack of education is highly undesirable to women when looking at potential long term mates. Women also shun men who are easily dominated by other men or who fail to command the respect of the group.

9 Alpha males vs. Beta males: Women prefer alpha males for mates. Alpha males tend to have higher social status in a group, have financial resources, be in positions of power, are ambitious, & successful. They are the go-getters. Beta males tend to be dominated by Alpha males are more laid back, tend to have fewer resources, lower social status in the group, and arent as ambitious or competitive as Alphas.

10 3. Age Averaged over all cultures, women tend to prefer men who are roughly 3.5 years older than they are. The worldwide age difference between brides and grooms is about 3 years consistent with womens dating preferences. All things being equal, as income tends to increase with age, women find dating older men more attractive than dating younger, less experienced males. Other factors linked with increasing age tend to be strength and social status.

11 4. Ambitiousness/Industriousness Women world-wide are interested in men who work hard & possess ambition in their fields of work. Both single & married women rate ambition in a mate as important or indispensable. Conversely, women find men who lack ambition or are lazy as extremely undesirable. Men who are ambitious & work hard are more likely to acquire resources for survival & women are drawn to this.

12 5. Dependability & emotional stability Women in all cultures view the characteristics of dependability and emotional maturity (stability) to be important to indispensable. Why?? These qualities are linked with reliable acquisition & distribution of resources to the family over time.

13 The costliness of Emotionally Unstable Men (to Women): 1. Emotionally unstable men tend to be possessive & monopolize resources (p.32) 2. These men exhibit higher than average sexual jealousy, often manifesting itself as rage when their mates talk to others. 3. These men are very dependent, insisting their mates do everything for them, including most or all of the child care responsibilities. 4. These men may be abusive(verbally, physically, sexually, etc.) and moody. 5. These men may have multiple affairs, further diverting their resources and time from their mate.

14 Examples of emotional Stability Resiliency (not complaining, showing consideration for others) Finishing projects Putting ones energy into a job, not allowing anxiety to take over. Effective methods for coping with stress

15 6. Intelligence Women prefer to mate with intelligence, educated men over less intelligent, uneducated males. Intelligence is linked with greater economic resources (smart people get into good schools & tend to further their educations resulting in greater earning capacity over their lifetime). Other skills linked with intelligence are: good parenting skills, cultural awareness, good oral communicative ability, common sense, etc.

16 7. Size & Strength Women tend to find strong, tall, muscular males to be attractive, because of the protection size & strength can grant. Height is a cue to social dominance. Women find small, wimpy males to be undesirable. Consequently, tall men are sought after & have a larger pool of potential mates to drawn from than do short men. Tall men tend to make more money, have higher social status, receive more promotions, have greater access to mates, & are perceived more favorably in general.

17 8. Good Health Women seek mates who are healthy. The costs associated with being with an unhealthy mate in ancestral times would have been: 1. A woman put herself & her family at risk for contracting the disease. 2. Her mate was less able to perform & provide functions needed for the familys survival. 3. Her mate was at increased risk for death, thereby cutting her & her offspring off from valuable resources. 4. If heritable, a female may increase the likelihood that a genetic disease would be passed on to her offspring.

18 9. Love & Commitment Just because a male may possess desirable resources, doesnt mean he is willing to commit them to a specific mate & her offspring. If a male is only interested in casual mating, this could be quite costly to a female, especially given the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, commitment is extremely attractive to women for long term mating.

19 How does a female know if a male will commit? Determining whether a male is willing to commit is difficult. Cues are needed that signal a desire/willingness to commit. What cues do this? Love is a strong cue linked to commitment, because it produces strong emotions linked to pair-bonding in both partners (oxytocin) & can be shown through outward acts. Acts of love include: fidelity, giving up seeing/dating other mates, expressing a desire to be pair-bonded & to have children, sincerity, & kindness.

20 II. Men Want Something Else Reproductive success for men requires impregnating as many fertile females as possible. Hence, the males genes are likely to be passed on. Problematically, this doesnt coincide with the very costly experience of gestation for women. Thus, men didnt have access to casual sex as readily as their biology would have liked. Thus, men had to adapt & commit to procreate. Nevertheless, it would be costly for a male to commit to an unhealthy, infertile female. Therefore, males evolved preferences with characteristics linked with fecundity.

21 Cues to a womans fertility Men, like women, evolved preferences for characteristics they seek in a mate based on reproduction. These have become hard-wired over time. Unlike monkeys that produce labial swellings when they are in estrus, human female fertility is concealed (concealed ovulation). This makes the task of determining female fertility more challenging for males. Over time,males have honed in on certain physical cues that are linked with fertility.

22 Cues linked with fertility (contd.) Two obvious cues linked with fecundity are: Youth and Health. Older or unhealthy women simply cant produce as many offspring as younger, healthier women. Thus, ancestral men mated with younger, healthier females in order to ensure reproduction.

23 1. Youth Overall, men tend to prefer women who are younger then they are by 2.5 years. There is some difference among cultures. This also changes with age. Men in their 30s prefer women roughly 5 years younger, whereas men in their 50s prefer women years younger. As younger women are more fertile than older women, this age preference is strongly linked with fertility.

24 2. Beauty Other physical cues linked to fecundity are: full lips, clear smooth skin, healthy hair, facial symmetry, and a small waist-hip ratio. Facial symmetry-The more symmetrical the facial features are, the more attractive the person is rated to be. Increased facial symmetry has been linked to health, reproductive ability, and parasite resistance. Symmetry decreases with age.

25 Waist-hip ratio A small waist-hip ratio (a proportion of the waist size relative to the hip size) has been rated as most attractive and has been shown to be linked with greater health, reproductive ability, and parasite resistance. A larger waist size indicates possible disease (e.g., diabetes, insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome) or possible pregnancy, which may decrease its attractiveness to males.

26 Mens Status & Womens Beauty A womans physical attractiveness isnt just linked with her fecundity, but also increases a mans social status in society by virtue of being linked with her. The concept of the trophy bride (a man having a younger, beautiful woman on his arm) as an asset that will improving a mans status has been verified. Men who are perceived as unattractive when paired with women considered attractive, are rated higher in social status and other status related issues. In other words, for an unattractive man to land a beautiful woman, he must possess something society doesnt see.

27 3. Chastity and Fidelity Males are faced with a unique issue women dont experience, which is paternity uncertainty. That is, because of concealed ovulation, a man doesnt know 100% of the time, if the child his mate is carrying is his or not. Marriage and the double-standard both were created to deal with paternity uncertainty.

28 Costs of a females infidelity Males potentially suffer from their mates infidelity in terms of the resources, time, and effort they may invest in taking care of someone elses offspring. Premarital chastity and post-marital sexual loyalty would be two methods for reducing paternity uncertainty. Hence, males still prefer virgin brides than the other way around, and the double-standard is much stricter on female than male sexuality.


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