People like to think that modern times reflect modern attitudes, but when it comes to choosing a mate, gender stereotypes seem to prevail. According to a recent study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, 80% percent of men prefer women with slender bodies, while 65% of women prefer men who have or will have a lot of money. Researchers analyzed two large studies examining what American men and women appear to be looking for in a partner. The participants included almost 28,000 people from 18 to 75 years in age.
An attractive appearance ranked high on the list for both men (92%) and women (84%). Interestingly, researchers discovered that two categories of participants exhibited the strongest preferences for an attractive and slender partner. These included wealthier men; and men and women who were confident in their own appearance.
When it came to personal income, 97% of women preferred a partner whose income was steady; as opposed to 74% for men. Roughly half of the men wanted a partner who is or will be financially successful; and roughly half of the women wanted men whose income matched or exceeded their own.
The results indicate gender stereotypes about attractiveness and income are accurate, and the researchers admit to being surprised by the outcome. The financial preferences of women seem particularly unexpected due to the fact that more women now complete college than men; and almost 40% of wives earn more than their husbands. While the results might seem a little troubling, Manhattan psychologist Joseph Cilona cites cultural, societal, and even biological influences. In fact, he believes women are genetically predisposed to search for partners who will ensure the survival, growth, and happiness of children.
Fellow psychologist and author Suzana E. Flores chocks the accuracy of gender stereotypes for choosing mates up to societal pressure, but she also believes self-esteem plays a role. People who worry about what others think may tend to choose partners for more superficial reasons; whereas self-confident people often rely on an emotional connection. Cilona also believes emotions come into play, and may sway preferences when men and women are faced with making an actual choice.
Although research indicates that men and women follow gender stereotypes when choosing a mate, a number of outside influences affect the decision-making process. Societal pressure, self-esteem, and emotional connections all influence the selection of a long-term partner. Who men and women think they might marry could turn out to be someone very, very different.