Human Nature

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 267–276

Human mate choice and the wedding ring effect

Are married men more attractive?


Individuals are often restricted to indirect cues when assessing the mate value of a potential partner. Females of some species have been shown to copy each other’s choice; in other words, the probability of a female choosing a particular male increases if he has already been chosen by other females. Recently it has been suggested that mate-choice copying could be an important aspect of human mate choice as well. We tested one of the hypotheses, the so-called wedding ring effect—that women would prefer men who are already engaged or married—in a series of live interactions between men and women. The results show that women do not find men signaling engagement, or being perceived as having a partner, more attractive or higher in socioeconomic status. Furthermore, signs of engagement did not influence the women’s reported willingness to engage in short-term or long-term relationships with the men. Thus, this study casts doubt on some simplified theories of human mate-choice copying, and alternative, more complex scenarios are outlined and discussed.

Key words

Human mate choice Mate-choice copying Wedding ring effect 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden

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