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Buss Aims and Context

  • Evolutionary psychologists have studied mate preferences to demonstrate the characteristics preferred by our ancestors.
  • Darwin- survial of the fittest- mates will look for positive characteristics in a partner to pass onto offspring so they have a chance of survival.
  • Thornhill and thornhill(1983) claim people lacking preferred characteristics will not be selected as a mate. Might not be selected as it doesn't fit in with selectively choosing the positive characteristics required for survival.
  • Trivers(1978) believes that partental investment in an extremely desirable characteristic as women need support for 9 months. (men need to look after the mother then support in looking after the baby- patience, intelligence)
  • Alexander and Noolan(1979) claim a female seeks shelter, food and protection. This typically translates to earning potential (Willerman, 1979)
  • Males need to identify a fertile female, who is youthful, has smooth skin, muscle tone, lustrous hair and full lips.
  • Daly et al (1982) also claims that chastity is also a desirable characteristics for male so they are certain the child is theirs.
  • Buss therefore aimed to investigate if evolutionary explanantions of mate preferences are found in different cultures.
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Buss Procedure

  • Aim- to investigate favoured mate characteristics of humans.
  • 37 samples from Australia to Venezuela, 33 countries, 6 continents, 5 islands, 10047 Ps with mean sample size of 272 and mean age 23.05 with the largest sample (1670) coming from the u.s.
  • Variety of sampling techniques including systematic sampling in venezuela to high school children in NZ.
  • 2 questionnaires used- Q1=biographical data including age difference and potential spouse 4 point likert scale of 18 features.
  • Q2 used for preferences concerning potential mates including 13 characteristics ranked from 1(highly valued) 13 (low value) including earning and attractiveness.
  • questionnaire amended for different cultures- nigeria for polygyny(more than one wife).
  • data collected and sent to US for analysis- unaware
  • 5 main predictions- finance, looks, age, chasity, ambition.
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Buss Findings and Conclusions

  • Finance- high in developing countries low in western cultures. high in 3rd world countries as it would mean coming out of their poor situation. low in developed countries as there are always support. Females valued more than men.
  • Ambition- high value in developing countries, low value in european countries. Females expressed higher than men except in spanish, columbian and Zulu sample. Ambition leads to good financial achievement possibilities therefore the poor would place high emphasis as it may improve their conditions.
  • Age- males prefer to be older(27) and females (25)
  • Looks- males rated looks more important than females in 34/37 samples.
  • Chastity- more religious countries placed higher value than european sample.Part of religion european sample chastity less important as less religions and sexual activity more accepted.
  • Conclusion- finance, attractiveness, age strongly confirmed. Ambition and chastity recieved less support.
  • Reproductive success for men= young females which affects ability to look after children. Younger women are more likely to be fertile and will have the energy to look after child. Women=powerful provider to support. Men will be able to look after above with money which will offer security.
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Buss Evaluation

M+ questionnaire- quantitative data (make comparisons)

- May not tell the truth or know what they want in a potential mate

R+ studies to support (thornhill, trivers)

- only asked the questionnaire once

V- Doesn't reflect real life as people may not end up with their desired potential mate.

- translation problems with interpreters

+ adapted for men and women

S- Large sample, however small compared to the whole population

+cross cultural (variety of backgrounds)

- systematic in venezuela but they don't all have adresses

E+ Confidential & informed concent

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