Mate Selection In Males And Females

How do we select our partners? The theory of evolution argues that, personality features, behavioral and physical traits that enhance our chances of survival and reproduction attract them to us by that virtue. Because it has provided an essential context for understanding the nature of human mating behavior. There has been a lot of speculation about the differences between the type of decisions males and females make in selecting the type of partner they want and the type of characteristics they want their partner to possess or be able to make Rushton and his colleagues (1984) argued that “genetic similarity has an effect on who attracts you'. Specifically, we are more attracted to strangers who are similar to us genetically than those who do not, resulting in offspring. Offspring has both parents genes. We want to make sure that our genes survive into the next generation.

Studies from the 1940s show that there are various well supported 'laws of attraction' governing the general process of choosing a long-term mate:

  • Exposure and Familiarity (the more often we see someone or something, the more often we like them)
  • Physical Attraction (physical beauty)
  • Personality and Character (competence and warmth). Competent people, that is to say intelligent and socially skilled, are considered more attractive. Kind people with a warm personality are also more attractive. Warm and wise is a winning pair in the mate selection tournament.), 
  • Proximity (most of us choose from the nearby selection. Long-distance relationships are more difficult to nurture, and they survive much less often.) 
  • Similarity (we are attracted to people who are like/similar to us).

According to Trivers (1972) claims that “sexual selection is driven by different levels of investment by male and females in their offspring”. The female usually spends more resources, time, and risk in every offspring than the male in most animal species. Consequently, males may produce more offspring by copulating with many partners, while this is seldom true of females. Through copulating with many partners, females have little to benefit reproductively and potentially much to lose by copulating with many partners, but females have a great deal to gain by choosing to mate with only the best males ;thus, natural selection has favored the propensity of female to be more diligent and selective than males in the choice of mates, and to discriminate male quality or the quality of male territories. The concept of parental investment predicts sex variation in sexuality and mate selection in wide variety of species.

Evolutionary biologists use parental investment theory to explain sex differences in human sexuality and mate selection as follows.

Women exchange sexual access for the maximal investment of a high-quality male, whereas men are more inclined to try to spread their investments among several women, thus reducing the average investment per partner and maximizing the number of partners. Because a woman's fertility is highly dependent on her age and health, when men choose partners they tend to emphasize proximate cues to age and health, e.g., complexion, muscle tone, absence of wrinkles, and facial proportions. A man's fertility is less dependent on his age and health, but his prowess and resources can greatly enhance a woman's reproductive success. Human biology, for instance, determines that during child birth women need support and protection, and that their fertility is time limited. Therefore, it makes sense that women will be considered attractive to men who can provide security to them, and that young and fertile women will be attractive to men. Nonetheless, studies show that overall women emphasize the importance of status considerations when it comes to longterm relationships, while men find female youth highly attractive. Thus, women put less emphasis on physical appearance than men when choosing partners, and more emphasis on status and wealth.

Although effective contraception, female economic independence, bottle feeding, and supplemental child care could obviate these sex differences, they persist because natural selection has caused the mechanisms that mediate sexual arousal and motivation to differ in men and women. Hence, even if these sex differences no longer offer a reproductive advantage to particular individuals, evolutionary theory predicts that the evidence of females' greater caution, selectivity, and interest in quality of male investment will increase as the potential for copulation and fertilization increases.

Sex differences in these characteristics should be relatively weak in nonsexual relationships and stronger in sexual relationships. Because a primary and universal function of marriage has been to legitimate and sanction copulation and procreation, and because most women still enter marriage expecting to reproduce, sex differences in the effects of potential partners' resources on partner selection should be greatest for relationships that involve coitus and/or the possibility of marriage.

However, 'social role theory' developed by the American psychologist Alice Eagly, argues that social processes determine 'our' decisions rather than biological processes. The rules of mate selection are determined by the roles of women and men in society. people's preferences for a mate are then expected to shift as social roles and norms shift. If women are attracted to men with power and money, which’s because society limits their own ability to gain power and money. If, most positions of power and money go to women, then a man’s status and wealth may matter much less to women, while male appearance , youth, and strength could matter more.

Indeed, studies over the past 50 years show some fundamental changes in mate preferences among both men and women. For example, since maintaining a comfortable life on one salary has become difficult in Western countries, and since most women in those countries work and earn income, both men and women currently place more emphasis than ever on the economic and social standing of a partner when choosing a life partner. Housework issues, such as cooking and cleaning skills, on the other hands, are no longer considered to be important criteria for a partner choice in both sexes. Such developments suggest that society has an effect on the characteristics that we find attractive. 

16 December 2021
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