Date of Submission
March, E. M. (2016). Sex differences in mate preferences: An in-depth exploration of evolutionary and social-economic theories (Thesis, Australian Catholic University). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a9cb5f7b0b73
Extensive research has documented the sex differences that exist in men’s and women’s mate preferences. Specifically, men desire the physical attractiveness of a potential mate more than women do, and women desire the status and resources of a potential mate more than men do. These sex differences in mate preferences are often attributed to evolutionary and/or social-economic origins. However, to date, research has only examined the different factors of social-economic theory independently without acknowledging the potential interactive effects between these variables. Therefore, the aim of this dissertation was to explore, for the first time, the individual and conjunctive effects of the different elements of social-economic theory (gender roles and socio-economic status) on characteristics men and women consider a necessity in long-term and short-term mates. To explicitly study characteristics men and women consider a necessity in a mate; the dissertation employed the trade-off methodology proposed by Li, Bailey, Kenrick, and Linsenmeier (2002). This methodology is a mate budget designed to examine the characteristics men and women consider a necessity (initially important) in a mate, and the characteristics men and women consider a luxury in a mate (the characteristics that become important once necessities are satisfied). As this methodology is relatively novel, to determine the validity of this measure the aim of Experiment 1 was to replicate the studies of Li and colleagues (2002) and Li and Kenrick (2006), and assess if the same characteristics men and women considered necessities in both long-term and short-term relationships could be established. Participants (N = 1635) were recruited from an Australian University campus and the wider community, and completed an online mate budget questionnaire. Results supported Li and Kenrick (2006), showing that both men and women consider the physical attractiveness of a short-term mate a necessity (although men did consider the physical attractiveness of a short-term mate significantly more of a necessity than women). In addition, Experiment 1 provided support for Li and colleagues (2002), showing that men consider the physical attractiveness of a long-term mate a necessity (and significantly more of a necessity then women do). However, Experiment 1 did not find that women considered the social level of a long-term mate a necessity, thus not providing support for Li and colleagues (2002). In addition, women did not consider the social level of a long-term mate significantly more of a necessity compared to men. Based on these findings, it was discussed that men’s and women’s necessity of a long and short-term mate’s physical attractiveness and social level might be influenced by social variables and contexts. As such the aim of Experiments 2 and 3 was to extend previous research on social-economic theory of sex differences in mate preferences by considering the independent and interactive effects different social factors have on the characteristics men and women consider necessities in long-term and short-term mates, respectively...
School of Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Health Sciences