Buss mate preferences

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  • Created by: Kathryn
  • Created on: 23-04-14 19:57


Sexual Selection - Males with characteristics females prefer are more likely to be chosen e.g Darwin's evolutionary theory. Male peacocks with brighter feathers more likely to be chosen.

Trivers - Paternal investment, heavy investment from female for pregnancy, women prefer man that can provide good resources. Wealth, car, house etc. 

Symonds - Reproductive value, suggested males prefer females with higher reproductive value. Age 19 - 21. reproductive value goes down with age. Men look for youthful characteristics (soft skin, luscious hair, toned etc.)

Williams - Fertility theory, men prefer women who show characteristics of ability to have children. E.g large breasts, child bearing hips. 

Daly - Paternal probability, men prefer women who're chaste, trustworthy, loyal because girls can be 100% sure baby is their's, a man cant.

Aim - To investigate evolutionary explanations of sex differences in human mate preferences. Used a cross culture study to see if innate across cultures. 

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Participants/Sample - 10,097 from 33 different countries such as Iran, USA and New Zealand. Sample size differed in each country: used 55 p's in Iran but 1,491 in USA. Mean sample size per country was 272. Average age was 23.05. Buss applied different sampling techniques to different areas. For example New Zealand he used P's from 5 different high schools. 

The Questionnaire -  Biographical data, asked P's about themselves for example age, religion etc. Asked mate preferences e.g age differences, no. of children preference. Also used a rating scale for 18 characteristics, 3 - 0 (3 being indespensible, 0 being unimportant), characteristics included financial aspects, chastity. Also asked p's to rank 13 characteristics in order ( 1 least 12 most important, 2 variables, one being religion, characteristics include attitude, earning capacity. 

Translators - Translate questionnaire into native language. Had sex neutral questions and apapt the questions depending on different cultures. E.g beautiful more expressive in one country than another. 

Data Collection - Collected by native residents of the country and sent out to the USA. 

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Findings and conclusion

Financial Prospects - 36/37 (97%) of females valued financial prospects more highly than males did, except Spain where it was vice versa, but not significant. Also variation in how significant this mate characterisic was valued, Western Europe sample value financial prospects the most.         Conclusion - Supports parental investment (Trivers) where women look for mating characters with resourceful characterisitics

Good Looks - Males rated good looks more highly than females did, significant in 92% of samples                                                                                                                                Conclusion - Supports Symonds theory that men look for visual indicators of fertility, youthfulness reproductive value.

Chastity - Samples varied in the value placed on chastity, however in 62% of samples males prefered chastity in their mates.                                                                                               Conclusions - Suports Daly's theory that males prefer trustworthy, chast mates. 

Ambition - 34/37 samples, females value ambition industrious in a mate higher than males. Not rated low in any sample but GB, Holland and West Germany expressed least interest.       Conclusions - Supports Trivers theory of parental invesment. 

Age - 37/37 samples males prefered women who are younger. Mean age difference of 2.66yrs. Mean age males prefer to marry was 27 years. Ideal women age 24, closer to peak fertility.    Conclusion -  Supports Williams reproductive value.  

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Method Questionnaire                                                                                                            + can collect same info from a large sample easily, quantitative data to compare and contrast        - No use of open question, more detail from open questions. Give P's choice, closed questions force P to pick answer that doesnt suit them. 

Ethics                                                                                                                                    + Private info like names kept confidential, replaced with numbers. Aims hidden from reseracher to reduce researcher bias (where researcher adapts results to match the aims)             - Aims hidden from P's and researcher, deceive. Research could be socially sensitive if generalised to whole population as stereotyping could occur. 

Reliability                                                                                                                              - P's might lie, give them answer they think society might want them to (social desirability bias). Only tested once, no consistency, P's may not have known what to do first time round    

Validity                                                                                                                                 External - cross culture so results can be generealised to whole populations                                 Internal - Low Iv, due to closed questions, being forced to pick answer that may not suit them.    

Sample                                                                                                                              + Wide range of cultural groups, trends well supported. Easy to generalise to world                    - Western nations dominated, males 23.49 females 22.52, hard to generalise to older people


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Alt Evidence

Wayneforth and Dunbar (1995)                                                                                            Studied 900 lonely heart ads, 4 different american newspapers. Kept score of how frequently certain characteristics were mentioned e.g physical attrativeness/wealth etc. Found more men sought a youthful and attractive mate, more women used physically attractive tems to dscribe themselves, moe men repoted their economic status when describing themselves.                                                                                                      SUPPORTS as found men prefer good looks, women focus on resource characteristics. 

Singh (1993)                                                                                                                        Waist to hip ratio relative to attractiveness in many cultures. Men prefer women with low WHR. ideal being 0.7. Means women have large bottom signifying good fat reserves and a small waist (not pregnant). Low WHR sigh of fertility.                               DEVELOPS as Buss found Men prefer younger mating partners, this study gives us more insight into what is meant by youthfullness. 

Little et al. (2007)                                                                                                            Facial symmetry indicator for fertility, sign of robustness. Found both people from UK and Hazda preferred symetrical faces.                                                                             DEVELOPS as Buss found men prefer good looks and younger mating partners, this gives insight into what defines good looks and youthfullness.

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