Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 977–981 | Cite as

Mutual mate choice drives the desirability of altruism in relationships

  • Daniel FarrellyEmail author
  • Laura King


Although previous research has found that altruism is an important trait in human mate choice, much of this has concentrated on female preferences only. Subsequently, the current study explored how both men and women desire altruistic partners who varied in physical attractiveness for both short and long term romantic relationships. A sample of 136 women and 53 men viewed profiles of members of the opposite sex of either high or low physical attractiveness, alongside scenarios that described them as either being altruistic or not. Participants then rated each targets’ desirability as both a short and long term partner. As hypothesised, altruism was rated more desirable, particularly for long term relationships, by both men and women. However there were inconsistent findings when physical attractiveness was accounted for, which did not support the hypotheses nor directly replicate previous findings. Overall it was concluded that although the study provided strong support for the desirability of altruism being due to mutual mate choice, the additional effects of examining other mate choice traits such as attractiveness shows much is still to be known.


Altruism Gender Attractiveness Relationship length Desirability 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organisational Psychology, Team Dynamics and Interpersonal Relationships, School of PsychologyUniversity of WorcesterWorcesterUK

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