More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Men say they want one thing, but date another
Sept 4, 2007

Guys go for good looks, but women are pickier about their partners

Science is confirming what most women know: When given the choice for a mate, men go for good looks.

And guys won?t be surprised to learn that women are much choosier about partners than they are.

?Just because people say they?re looking for a particular set of characteristics in a mate, someone like themselves, doesn?t mean that is what they?ll end up choosing,? Peter M. Todd, of the cognitive science program at Indiana University, Bloomington, said in a telephone interview.

Researchers led by Todd report in Tuesday?s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that their study found humans were similar to most other mammals, ?following Darwin?s principle of choosy females and competitive males, even if humans say something different.?

Their study involved 26 men and 20 women in Munich, Germany.

Participants ranged in age from 26 to their early 40s and took part in ?speed dating,? short meetings of three to seven minutes in which people chat, then move on to meet another dater. Afterward, participants check off the people they?d like to meet again, and dates can be arranged between pairs who select one another.

Speed dating let researchers look at a lot of mate choices in a short time, Todd said.

All about looks
In the study, participants were asked before the session to fill out a questionnaire about what they were looking for in a mate, listing such categories as wealth and status, family commitment, physical appearance, healthiness and attractiveness.

After the session, the researchers compared what the participants said they were looking for with the people they actually chose to ask for another date.

Men?s choices did not reflect their stated preferences, the researchers concluded. Instead, men appeared to base their decisions mostly on the women?s physical attractiveness.

The men also appeared to be much less choosy. Men tended to select nearly every woman above a certain minimum attractiveness threshold, Todd said.

Women?s actual choices, like men?s, did not reflect their stated preferences, but they made more discriminating choices, the researchers found.

The scientists said women were aware of the importance of their own attractiveness to men, and adjusted their expectations to select the more desirable guys.

?Women made offers to men who had overall qualities that were on a par with the women?s self-rated attractiveness. They didn?t greatly overshoot their attractiveness,? Todd said, ?because part of the goal for women is to choose men who would stay with them?

But, he added, ?they didn?t go lower. They knew what they could get and aimed for that level.?

So, it turns out, the women?s attractiveness influenced the choices of the men and the women.

just mary

Hmmm, why does an article like this always get my back up and then I feel overwhelmed and disappointed?

I just wanted to make one point, these people were speed dating, they had to make a choice in a short amount of time. It could have inlfuenced their decision making, And what's a "minimum attractiveness threshold"? And who decides whether the woman greatly overshoots or undershoots her attractiveness? This is an odd study and it only involved 46 people (26 men and 20 women). Who were these people? Were they all German? Were they all models? Or were they all statisticians? I'd like to know.
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David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I have a similar reaction.

One thing a study like this should address is subject selection: How do they know that their sample is at all representative of males or females? I know of some people who have tried speed-dating (once) but really - how many people would see that as a good or desirable way to meet people? And who would volunteer to participate in a study involving the activity?

My guess is certainly not the introverted or shy. So at best you probably have a sample of extraverted and perhaps novelty-seeking people inclined toward the risk-taking end of the dimension who have some interest in what can at best be described as a superficial social activity. Is it not probable that such individuals may be just a tad more superficial in how they view other people than individuals who wouldn't consider participating?


I agree Mary! You took the words right out of my mouth...I was going to say small sample size!!! Men are better than this article depicts them, come on!!
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