Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 23, Issue 9–10, pp 501–513 | Cite as

Sex differences among partner preferences: Are the sexes really very similar?

  • Robin Goodwin
Article

Abstract

The question as to what type of individual we prefer in a “romantic” partner has stimulated a long history of research, with much of the present debate centering around the issue of the sex differences in partner preferences. In the studies described in this paper, two groups of participants completed a variety of different questionnaire schedules indicating their preferences for a partner. In study 1, 216 single students demonstrated a prevailing desire for a kind, considerate, and honest partner who displayed a keen sense of humor. Consistent with the hypothesis, there were no clear sex differences evident in these results. In study 2, 76 dating agency members completed a similar schedule examining partner preferences. Here again, preferences were similar across the sexes, although men preferred the submissive and introverted partner and stressed the importance of physical appearance in a mate. The general discussion considers the implications of these findings in the light of previous research on partner preferences.

Keywords

Social Psychology Physical Appearance Present Debate Partner Preference Agency Member 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alicke, M., Smith, R., & Klotz, M. Judgments of physical attractiveness: The roles of faces and bodies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1986, 12, 381–389.Google Scholar
  2. Ashmore, R., & Del Boza, R. The social psychology of male-female relationships. New York: Academic, 1986.Google Scholar
  3. Buss, D. Evolutionary biology and personality psychology: Toward a conception of human nature and individual differences. American Psychologist, 1984, 39, 1135–1147.Google Scholar
  4. Buss, D. Human mate selection. American Scientist, 1985, 47–51.Google Scholar
  5. Buss, D. Sex differences in human mate selection criteria: An evolutionary perspective. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Sociobiology and psychology: Ideas, issues and applications. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1987.Google Scholar
  6. Buss, D. The evolution of human intrasexual competition: Tactics of mate attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1988, 54, 616–628.Google Scholar
  7. Buss, D. Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1989, 12, 1–49.Google Scholar
  8. Buss, D., & Barnes, M. Preferences in human mate selection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1986, 50, 559–570.Google Scholar
  9. Buss, D., Abbott, A., Angleitner, A., Asherian, A., Biaggio, A., Blanco-Villasenor, A., Bruchon-Schweitzer, M., Ch'u, H., Czapinski, J., Deraad, B., Ekehammar, B., Lohamy, N., Fioravanti, M., Gerogas, J., Gjerde, P., Guttman, R., Hazan, F., Iwawaki, S., Janakiramaiah, N., Khosroshani, F., Kreitler, S., Lachenicht, L., Lee, M., Liik, K., Little, B., Mika, S., Moadel-Shahid, M., Moane, G., Montero, M., Mundy-Castle, C., Niit, T., Nsenduluka, E., Pienkowski, R., Pirttila-Backman, A., Leon, J., Rousseau, J., Runco, M., Safir, M., Samuels, C., Sanitioso, R., Serpell, R., Smid, N., Spencer, C., Tadinac, M., Todorova, E., Trodland, K., van den Brande, L., van Heck, G., van Langenhove, & Yang, K. International preferences in selecting mates: A study of 37 cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1990, 21, 5–47.Google Scholar
  10. Christensen, H. Marriage analysis: Foundations for successful family life. IN: Ronald Press.Google Scholar
  11. Coombs, R. Value consensus and partner satisfaction among dating couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1966, 28, 166–173.Google Scholar
  12. Denzin, N. The research act. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  13. Dillman, D. Mail and telephone surveys: The total design method. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Goodwin, R. Dating agency members: Are they different? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1990, 7, 423–430.Google Scholar
  15. Gough, H. Personality assessment in the study of population. In J. Fawcett (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on population (pp. 329–353). New York: Basic Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  16. Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. Gender differences in love and intimacy: The fantasy vs the reality. In H. Gochos & W. Ricketts (Eds.), Social work and love. New York: Hayworth, 1985.Google Scholar
  17. Hewitt, L. Student perceptions of traits desired in themselves as dating and marriage partners. Marriage and Family Living, 1958, 20, 344–349.Google Scholar
  18. Hill, C., Rubin, Z., Replau, L., & Willard, S. The volunteer couples: Sex differences, couple commitment, and participation in research on interpersonal relationships. Social Psychology Quarterly, 1979, 42, 415–420.Google Scholar
  19. Hinde, R. Why do the sexes behave differently in close relationships? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1984, 1, 471–501.Google Scholar
  20. Howard, J., Blumstein, P., & Schwartz, P. Social or evolutionary theories? Some observations on preferences in human mate selection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1987, 53, 194–200.Google Scholar
  21. Hoyt, L., & Hudson, J. Personal characteristics important in mate preference among college students. Social Behaviour and Personality, 1981, 1, 93–96.Google Scholar
  22. Hudson, J., & Henze, L. Campus values in mate selection: A replication. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1969, 31, 772–775.Google Scholar
  23. Huston, T., & Ashmore, R. Women and men in personal relationships. In R. Ashmore & R. Del Boza (Eds.), The social psychology of male-female relationships. New York: Academic, 1986.Google Scholar
  24. Laner, M. Permanent partner priorities: Gay and straight. Journal of Homosexuality, 1977, 3, 21–39.Google Scholar
  25. McGinnis, R. Campus values in mate selection: A repeat study. Social Forces, 1958, 36, 368–373.Google Scholar
  26. Meddis, R. Statistics using ranks: A unified approach. Oxford: Blackwell, 1984.Google Scholar
  27. Murstein, B. Qualities of desired spouse: A cross-cultural comparison between French and American college students. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 1976, 7, 455–469.Google Scholar
  28. Neely, W. Family attitudes of denominational college and university students, 1929 and 1936. American Sociological Review, 1936, 4, 512–522.Google Scholar
  29. Perlman, D. Chance and co-incidence in relationships. Paper presented at the third International Conference on Personal Relationships, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1986.Google Scholar
  30. Powers, E. Thirty years of research on ideal mate characteristics: What do we know? International Journal of Sociology of the Family, 1971, 1, 207–215.Google Scholar
  31. Rowe, D. Preference for Mates: Lost choice or natural desire? Comment on Buss, D. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1989, 12, 30–31.Google Scholar
  32. Rusbult, C. Responses to dissatisfaction in close relationships: The EVLN model. In D. Perlman & S. Duck (Eds.), Intimate relationships: Development, dynamics and deterioration. Newbury Park: Sage, 1987.Google Scholar
  33. Ryle, A. Frames and cages. London: Sussex University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  34. Smith, E., & Monane, J. Courtship values in a youth sample. American Sociological Review, 1953, 18, 635–640.Google Scholar
  35. Williamson, R. Marriage and family relations. New York: Wiley, 1966.Google Scholar
  36. Woll, S. Improper linear models of matchmaking. Paper presented at the Iowa Conference of Personal Relationships, 1987.Google Scholar
  37. Woll, S., & Cozby, P. Videodating and other alternatives to traditional methods of relationship initiation. In W. Jones & D. Perlman (Eds.), Advances in personal relationships 1. New York: JAI Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  38. Zohar, A., & Guttman, R. Mate preference is not mate selection. Comment on Buss (1989), Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1989, 12, 38–39.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Goodwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of KeeleKeeleEngland

Personalised recommendations