Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mate Selection

In class on Tuesday when we talked about evolutionary history and motives, the topic of mate value really interested me. The video we saw in class about the males and females trying to find mate based on random numbers on their head, and then again on pure physical attractiveness interested me. They found that the participants matched up with a person who was rated about the same attractiveness give or take a point. We also talked about male’s preferences for physical attractiveness in females, and female’s preference for status in males. This made me wonder if in general females will place more value on physical attractiveness in their self-concepts, and therefore males do the same with status.

I searched an online database and found an article that was very related. It is titled, “Are the Traits We Prefer in Potential Mates the Traits They Value in Themselves? An Analysis of Sex Differences in the Self-concept.” The intro talks about research on self concepts in terms of evolutionary history and suggests that self concepts evolved from pressures in the social environment. One example of a strong social pressure is mate preferences. Like we saw in class, past research has shown that men and women are both attracted to mates with good senses of humor and who are kind. However men pay more attention to physically features of potential mates, where as females pay more attention to the status and resources of mates. Something that has not been studied as much is the importance men and women place on different areas of self-concepts.

The hypothesis tested was that self-concepts of men and women reflect preferences of potential mates. To test this, a series of 6 mini studies were conducted employing different methods. In each of the studies the researches predicted that self traits relating to status and resources would more strongly reflect men’s self concepts, and that traits relating to physical attractiveness would more strongly reflect women’s self concepts. The results supported their hypothesis. In studies 1-3 traits relating to physical attractiveness were important for women’s self-concepts, and traits relating to status and resources were important for males. Then in studies 4-6 men were most upset when rivals derogated them in traits regarding status, and women were most upset when rivals derogated them in traits in physical attractiveness. In a way this makes perfect sense to me. Evolution has made it so women’s physical attractiveness is a major construct a self-image because it’s the trait that men will notice the most. And the same goes for males and their self-concept on status. It also ties into how society has taught females to look pretty and perfect all the time while males are taught to always pay for dates and own expensive items. Evolution is a funny thing, isn’t it?

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