An Experimental Study of Men’s and Women’s Personal Ads
Personal ads have long served as a potentially rich source of information for social scientists regarding what women and men appear to be looking for in a partner and what they believe potential partners are looking for in them. Almost every study of this type has content analyzed existing personal ads in print media or, more recently, on the Internet. Many of the limits of this research approach were addressed in a study by Strassberg and Holty (2003) utilizing an experimental research design. Contrary to theory, prior research, and prediction, the most popular female seeking male (FSM) ad in that study was one in which the woman described herself as “financially independent, successful [and] ambitious,” producing over 50 % more responses than the next most popular ad, describing the writer as “very attractive and slim.” The present study replicated the Strassberg and Holty methodology, placing the same fictitious MSF and FSM personal ads using far more accessible Internet personal ad sites. Contrary to the previous finding, but consistent with evolutionary theories and social psychological experiments (e.g., Townsend & Wasserman, 1998), ads that presented the woman as attractive and the man as financially successful elicited the most interest.