A new study tells us much of what we already presumed: men and woman are both shallow -- men look at physical beauty and women seek a mate with high social status.
This new study is novel, however, because researchers studying speed-dating and preference had turned this stereotype on its head, saying that although men and women might say they want different traits in a partner, they actually want the same things.
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"The new study helps dispel politically correct -- but factually misguided -- notions of a gender-neutral world where men and women want the exact same kind of mates," says professor of psychology Douglas Kenrick, who did not work on this experiment, but has previously conducted research in the same field.
The study, published in this month's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, claims to be the first to prove that men and women differ in their preference for mates.
One reason for this might be that the new study did something that had escaped the minds of previous researchers: It used people of low social standing and participants deemed slightly ugly ("low physical attractiveness," to put it lightly).
What Norman Li, associate professor of psychology at Singapore Management University, and Oliver Sng, a Ph.D. student at ASU, found was that where the sexes differ most is on these low-end qualities of what they want to avoid -- if someone is ugly or if they have no social standing. Not the high-end and more specific desires.
This also might have been where previous researchers went wrong, because many studies drew results from analyzing university students, which the authors say is not ideal for demonstrating the difference beauty and social elevation play in partner selection.
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SHOW ME HOW
Li and Sng experimented with online chatting and speed dating to view how the two sexes interacted.
What they found was that "[Men and women] prioritize different qualities when screening each other in online chats and speed-dates -- women want men who are at least average in social status while men want women who are at least moderately physically attractive," Li says. "We also are the first to demonstrate that what individuals say they value in potential mates is indeed reflected in how they actually choose them in initial mating situations."
This is just another scientific advancement, Li says, in detailing exactly how men and women differ.
Thank you, science, for finally proving something your test subjects were already telling you and simultaneously affirming that each stereotype sprouts from a kernel of truth.