View Full Version : Mate Preferences and Their Behavioral Manifestations

30-09-18, 17:22

I think that as part of the crisis in replication going on in the social sciences, psychologists are doing mega reviews of data and studies to weed out the nonsense that has crept in.

This is a particularly good example of that.

The paper cites approvingly the paper we just discussed that ovulation has nothing to do with changes in mate preference, but there's a lot more here, and a lot of it makes sense.

"A core premise of SST is that humans have evolved a multifaceted mating psychology consisting ofa complex suite of psychological adaptations, each of which evolved in response to evolutionarilyrecurrent adaptive challenges. Many of these challenges are subsumed under the rubric of sexualselection theory. The two broad adaptive problems that humans faced were (a) exerting fitnessenhancingpreferential mate choice and (b) out-competing rivals for desirable mates.Although in principle these are distinct challenges, they are conceptually related in two ways(Buss 1988a). First, the mate preferences of one sex dictate the domains of intrasexual competitionin the other sex. If women prioritize bravery in the face of danger, for example, then that preferenceimposes selection pressure on men to out-compete their rivals in providing honest indicatorsof bravery. Conversely, forms of intrasexual competition can influence the evolution of matepreferences. If men compete with each other in forms of same-sex combat, such as wrestling,chest-pounding duels, or club fights (Puts 2016), then the informative variance produced bywinning and losing contest competitions may create or amplify women’s mate preferences forformidability or athletic prowess. Although the two processes of sexual selection are distinct, theycan influence each other in reciprocal causation."

"Most research on the possible functions of women’s short-term mating has focused on the goodgenes hypothesis. This is the view that women may benefit from short-term mating by securingaccess to men with especially high-quality genes that would not be as accessible via the route oflong-term mating (Scheib et al. 1999). A wide range of evidence suggests that women particularlyprefer certain attributes when short-term mating, some of which may reflect good genes sexualselection. For instance, women tend to place more emphasis on men’s physical attractivenesswhen evaluating them for one-night stands compared to marriage partners."

"The logic of the dualmating hypothesis—a version of the good genes hypothesis—is that some women simultaneouslypursue two mating strategies—obtaining investment and resources from one regular committedpartner and obtaining superior genes from an affair partner. This hypothesis predicts that womenwill experience a mate preference shift around the brief window of ovulation, the only time in whicha woman can conceive, to value hypothesized good genes qualities (e.g., symmetry, masculinefeatures, physical attractiveness); that these preference shifts will center on short-term rather thanlong-term mating; and that sexual desire for men other than women’s regular partners will peak."

"Based on the studies conducted ¨thus far, empirical support for the hypothesized dual mating function of women’s short-termmating is weak or mixed."

"Second, because all traits highly valued by women in long-term mating, including intelligence,emotional stability, dependability, ambition, and industriousness, show moderate heritability, itis not conceptually clear why masculine and symmetrical features should be singled out as specialcases of good genes when the other qualities are not. To take one compelling example, intelligenceshows somewhat higher heritability than most other traits and has been directly hypothesized tobe a cardinal good genes indicator (e.g., Miller 2000), yet there is no evidence that women elevatethe importance that they attach to intelligence at ovulation. In short, on both theoretical andempirical grounds, the dual mating hypothesis of women’s short-term mating, although potentiallyapplicable to a small subset of women pending future tests, can be regarded as questionabletheoretically and not well supported empirically. In contrast, an alternative theory of women’sshort-term mating—the mate switching hypothesis—may be more promising."

"There are several variants of the mate switching hypothesis of women’s short-term mating. Oneinvolves cultivating a backup mate should something befall a woman’s regular mateship, such as apartner becoming injured or dying in a war, or simply in probabilistic anticipation of a potentialbreakup. This has been called the mate insurance function (Buss 2016). Another variant involveshaving a short-term sexual encounter to make it easier to divest oneself of an existing mate. Athird variant involves trading up to a partner of higher mate value or one who offers more benefitsand fewer costs than one’s current partner. A fourth variant involves using short-term mating asa means of assaying one’s mate value to evaluate whether there might exist more desirable andaccessible potential partners in the mating market.Few empirical studies have tested the mate switching hypothesis directly, but several independentfindings plausibly converge on it."

"First, relationship dissatisfaction is one of the most powerfulpredictors of women’s actual infidelity, but not of men’s infidelity."

"Third, women’s reported expressed benefits of extrapair mating include (a) finding a partner moredesirable than their current partner, (b) making it easier to break up with their current partner,(c) being able to replace their current partner, and (d ) discovering other potential partners whomight be interested in a relationship (Greiling & Buss 2000). Fourth, the contexts that womenreport would incline them to infidelity include a partner who cannot hold down a job, meetingsomeone more successful than their current partner who seems interested in them, and meetingsomeone who is willing to spend a lot of time with them."

I'd want to see percentages on this. We're not all so mercenary.

"Fifth, 79% of women who have affairs report falling in love with their affair partner, in contrastto only one-third of men who have affairs (Glass & Wright 1992)—and love is an emotionhypothesized to come online primarily in long-term mating contexts (Buss 1988b, 2018). If theprimary function of female infidelity was simply to secure superior genes from an affair partner,falling in love seems both superfluous and costly in that it potentially interferes with securingcontinued investment from a woman’s regular partner."

"Sex differences in desires for sexual variety are among the most robust and well-replicatedof all effects in the psychological sciences, with effect sizes often reaching ds of 0.74 or greater.Men desire a larger number of sex partners than do women across time intervals ranging froma month to a lifetime. Men are more open than women are to one-night stands, friends withbenefits, dating multiple people, having sex with multiple people, and engaging in threesomes(Gray et al. 2018). If men are married, they are more likely to desire extradyadic sex. Men aremore likely to have sexual fantasies that involve short-term sex, multiple sex partners, and sex withtotal strangers. They are more likely to consume pornography depicting short-term sex devoidof context, emotion, and relationships. Men have more permissive attitudes toward casual sex(Petersen & Hyde 2010) and express a more unrestricted sociosexuality than do women. Thesefindings have been supported by two large-scale independent cross-cultural studies, with not asingle cultural exception (Lippa 2009, Schmitt 2005). Men, more so than women, relax theirstandards for low-cost short-term matings across an array of mate qualities, including personality,intelligence, and even attractiveness."

"Sexual emotions experienced in the aftermath of a short-term sexual encounter dovetail with thelarge sex differences discovered in sexual desire. Men are less likely than women to experience theemotion of regret after short-term mating (Galperin et al. 2013), a finding replicated in Norway,one of the most sexually egalitarian cultures in the world."

"Several recent studies have shown that men prone to seeking short-term matings are especiallyattracted to women who show cues of sexual exploitability—women who might be easily seduced oreasily deceived to have a brief sexual encounter (e.g., Goetz et al. 2012). Cues to sexual exploitabilityinclude seeming immature, intoxicated, reckless, flirtatious, or sleepy; wearing skimpy clothing;and showing an open body posture. Importantly, men do not find these sexual exploitability cuesattractive at all in a potential long-term mate."

Honestly, this should be required reading in sex ed classes.

"Three empiricalstudies in two different cultures found that men were more likely than women to exaggerate thedepth of their feelings and commitment to gain short-term sexual access. Moreover, women sodeceived, compared to men deceived in these ways, reported that they would experience moreintense emotional upset—sex differences that show especially large effect sizes."

"In field experiments, more men than women consent to sex when approached with requests bya stranger of the other sex—75% of men versus 0% of women (Clark & Hatfield 1989). Thesefindings have been robustly replicated in behavioral experiments in other cultures, includingGermany, Italy, and Denmark."

"Indeed, 99% ofthose who purchase the sexual services of prostitutes are men."

"Empirically verified cues linking reproductive value and beauty include the lengthand quality of women’s hair; skin clarity and suppleness; feminine facial features caused in part byestrogen production, such as facial adiposity, full lips, small chin, thin jaws, and high cheekbones;a slender waist; a low waist-to-hip ratio; firm breasts; and a relatively low body mass index."

I'm not sure about the above. Some of this has changed over time, i.e. full lips, relatively low body mass index.

Preference for virginity varies across cultures.

"Men place sexual fidelity at or near the top of the list ofdesired qualities in a potential spouse."

Sexual jealousy exists and is adaptive for men.

Sexual jealousy also exists in women, but they don't discuss it.

There's a lot more, but this is already too long.

The paper is well-worth reading.