Chapter Three Summary
For women, marital investment is a large and important characteristic when choosing a potential mate. When it comes down to it, women are looking for men who are willing to invest in themselves and their children. And of this investment, material far outweighs emotional. Women look for important clues to a man's ability to provide and to the likelihood that he would make a great investment in her and her offspring. These clues include his status, ambition, wealth, and success.
An experiment conducted by six psychologists to tell whether or not women placed the same weight of importance on attractiveness as men do, and if not how they differ. "College students saw pictures of the opposite sex and of various levels of physical attractiveness in different costumes. They then reported on how willingly they would be to enter different types of relationships with people like the one in the picture-from coffee and conversation though dating, sexual relations, and marriage. The high-status costume consisted of a white dress shirt with a designer paisley tie, a navy blazer thrown over the left shoulder, and a Rolex wristwatch. Female models a white silk blouse, a navy blazer thrown over the left shoulder, and a women's Rolex. To depict medium status, models wore an off-white shirt and khaki slacks. For low social status the models wore the uniform of a well-known fast food chain: a baseball cap and a polo shirt with the company logo showing. Male and female models were matched for physical attractiveness" (Townsend 63). Men generally agreed that they would date the attractive model, no matter what she was wearing. However, women only wanted to date those men that they saw as equals or above their own status.
The six psychologists therefore concluded that women require more proof of stability and investment in their rating on attractiveness, where as men only seemed to require attractiveness. Where men must see fertility and youth, women must see proof of status and accomplishment. But, women also need to see that the man that she has been considering as a mate is chased after and admired by other women. Positive information made the man more attractive where negative information excluded him from consideration. Since the women put more into reproducing, everything from gamete size to length of nurturing for her offspring, social information about her potential mate is important. And when considering the factors of male abuse and the high risk of flight, obtaining this information is crucial to choosing a mate. Men, on the other hand, while they seem to look for a partner they can keep, they basically judge the woman they are dating on physical characteristics.
Being a social world, there is a natural hierarchy, one that is based on status and success. Every person in society has a place in this hierarchy. To women, this is one of the ways to determine attractiveness. Based on her position on the hierarchy, a woman compares potential mates based on her own standing. She will be looking for a man with a status higher than her own. So men that are just starting out in the world will have little to no status due to their lack of influence and power. For example, men that are well established in a good career have no problem dating women that are not as established or powerful as they are. But because women are growing exceedingly more powerful in the workplace, when the competition is finally equal between the two sexes, others believe that women will take on that male characteristic of looking for physical characteristics in a mate. So far, however, the more education, prestige, and status a women receives, the standards for her partners also increase.
In a survey at a medical school, students were asked about important criteria for a partner. Men considered attractiveness significantly more important than women did. On the other hand, men also stated that they preferred to have a spouse that made less than what he did, where women wanted husbands with a higher paycheck. This clause came with a catch though; Women wanted this only if men did not try to pull status rank on them. "Many of the women found men's willingness to date and marry 'down' in terms of income and occupational prestige incomprehensible and frustrating" (Townsend 65). According to these medical students, what women really want are men "who are a challenge, one they could admire and respect" (Townsend 65). These women also wanted protection and security, even though they stated that they really never expected a man to protect them from any real physical danger.
Karla and Zelda are medical school students who were asked what they were looking for in a man. Both women said that they would be bothered if their spouse made less money than they did, or had less status or success as they did. "Evolutionary psychologists argue that women are attracted to signs of status and success because mates who had these qualities were able to invest more in them and their offspring" (Townsend 66). Women will not pursue a relationship with a man who has a lower status or seems weak or unintelligent. She does this to protect the future of her unborn offspring.
Women are very contradictory in their selection of a mate. They want a man who is successful and able to compete and survive in the world we live in today, but they also want a man that will think about the woman's feelings by making her feel wanted, safe and secure. If a man is weak or cannot survive successfully, women are less attracted, if at all attracted to them. Debbie is a student at a medical school where she graduated and obtained a job as a medical specialist. She talks about a boyfriend of hers that was going through medical school when she was and failed out. Debbie states that she noticed that her boyfriend wasn't to her standard because "He's not as bright as I am or as capable. I get honors in some of my classes, but he's having a hard time even repeating his first year" (Townsend 66). Debbie states that it is the issue of respect that she is having a hard time dealing with more than anything else. She says that although money is important, as well, if a woman cannot respect her boyfriend or spouse, there will be a problem.
After the study on the medical students was conducted, 160 law school students were interviewed the same way, with the same visual experiment used on the medical students. The results were the same. The women agreed to date any of the men as long as they were told beforehand that these men held successful positions. The men would only date the most attractive of the set of models, no matter what they were wearing. Based on these results one can assume that "Men often refuse to date women whose physical features do not meet their standards, regardless of how ambitious and successful the women are in their careers. In their part, women are rarely willing to date or have sexual relations with men who have lower socioeconomic status than they do, despite the men's looks and physiques" (Townsend 67).
Men are basically in competition with other men to see who can obtain the most success and the highest status. This is how they receive their attractiveness to women. And as they move up in status, he moves into a new circle of people with the same or slightly higher success. The man must then adjust his achievements to meet the standards of his new circle. When this happens, he is immediately more attractive to women. Ted talks about his experience with this. He states how as a young man, when he received attention from women, he noticed it stopped very quickly when they found out that he was only a graduate student. But now that he is older and holds a more prestigious position, Ted notices that he attracts more women. Ted goes on to say that it is like this at all ages of life. In his high school days, Ted noticed that they men that were notice were the ones that played a sport. So Ted tells how he played one too, until he realized that he wouldn't make it that way, and then he changed his major to one where he could gain success. Tod, a medical student, states "That's when I figured it out: the more your status goes up, the more attractive you are to women" (Townsend 70).
In towns that contain a University, these female students will rarely hang out at places where the local townspeople hang out. This is due to the lowered status that the "townie" men had. An experiment was conducted to see if this was a truthful statement. Subjects viewed pictures of models dressed like preppies, a crunchy environmentalist, and a townie. "The Preppy costumes consisted of a v-neck sweater over an Oxford pin-striped shirt and khaki pants. The Crunchy types wore faded, torn jeans, a headband, a tie-dyed t-shirt, and a single strand of beads. Male Townies wore a silk shirt with the top buttons open, a gold medallion, and black slacks. Female Townies wore a black body suit, a black leather mini-skirt, and ratted, sprayed hair" (Townsend 71). Scenarios and identities were given to each of the models in each costume. Men said that they thought that the prettiest models were acceptable, while the women thought that a townie, even if it was the best looking model, was unacceptable to date. Both sexes later say how townies were unacceptable for dating and marriage.
Another experiment was conducted then using the same models and costumes but changed identities. Experimenters attempted to see if it was the levels of education and ambition that were the deciding factor. In the end, men still choose the most attractive model, where the women would not accept dating anyone with lower ambition or status than they possessed. "These two experiments suggest that for middle-class men, high physical attractiveness can render women desirable for dating, sexual relationships, and even marriage regardless of their occupation, income, and education-provided that they do not exhibit the obvious trappings of a lower-class status and lifestyle" (Townsend 74).
Women were shown pictures of men and asked to rate them. They couldn't because they were not swayed toward one group or another in terms of style and the women could not see their whole bodies. To observe whether or not looks are important to women, half of these models were dressed in preppy or townie costumes, while the other half of the models were dressed in bathing suits. When the models were shown to the women, the ones in bathing suits were given a status rank and an ambition level. Even though all the models were professionals and physically attractive, women tended to favor those models that were given the higher status and ambition levels and would not consider dating, having sexual relations with, or marrying those that received the lower status and ambition label.
Men and women were then shown told to rank celebrities in order of their attractiveness. Since most people are aware of celebrities through the media, there was no additional information given about them to the participants. Women ranked the celebrities due to the roles that they most often played. If a celebrity portrayed "muscle-bound, working-class, or macho violent" type, then women were more likely to rank them lower in attractiveness (Townsend 75). Men ranked all the celebrities based on their looks and had a larger variability on between those they thought to be attractive than others.
When asked why attractive men are considered unattractive because they have lower status, undergraduate women are unsure of the answer. They stated that it must not be due to age, because "few undergraduate women are interested in dating adult men downtown, even though those men have status in the 'real' world in the form of occupations and earning potential" (Townsend 77). Some women said that social status and power were important to them, even though they are not fully aware of it. Mostly because in today's world women are supposed to be independent with careers and success of their own. Women also look for men that are willing to make a commitment and be in a monogamous relationship. This is because "those who stress physical attributes in their choice of partners, and who wants to coast in sexual relationships or otherwise minimize their investments are often considered emotionally immature, or sexist, or incapable of true commitment" (Townsend 77).
Many women also consider intelligence to be important to be considered attractive. A study found that women of all economic levels thought his important. But, all the levels defined education differently. Those with lower status said that men should have a high school education and some prospect of moving up, where as women in medical school wanted men that were highly educated and had lots of opportunities to succeed. These women based this on the fact that they wanted to have more in common with their mates and that intelligence was evidence of a man's abilities and future. However, the men that these medical students date tend to be narrowly educated and not the cultured men that they expected them to be. Some women say it isn't based on status because they themselves would sound snotty or superficial. This often happens when women move up enormously with their status due to marriage. Many women of a mid to lower socioeconomic status believe this to be untrue and highly elitist. Mary is a medical student who comes from an immigrant family with a working-class background. She says, "I really don't like the phrase 'marrying down'" (Townsend 79). Even though she says this, Mary has only really been involved with medical students. When she moved up in social status, her expectations moved up as well.
Women's expectations of what is attractive and acceptable in a mate grow, change and move along with there own personal growth and advancement. However, these same women have to deal with the fact that they do not have a universal definition of what attractiveness is. What is attractive to one woman can be repulsive to another. Where men seem to emphasize attractiveness, women seem to emphasize how much success and status a man possesses. Based on her analysis of these qualities, the woman then decides on how attractive each man is to her. For example, as a man gains influence and power, he wants a more attractive woman to be his mate. Women, on the other hand, want men that compliment or exceed their own status and ambition.
These expectations change rapidly depending on how much success and power a woman is receiving. However, these requirements are all based on the situation that the female is in at the time, taking into consideration age, lifestyle, emotional support, her monetary status, and what she can acquire by herself.
Chapter Seven Summary
“Sigmund Freud was confident of his ability to unravel the deepest secrets of the unconscious mind and to explain the fundamental processes of psychological development and gender identity. Yet in his often- quoted statement, he admitted he was at a loss when it came to understanding what women want. Freud is not alone: a great many men are perplexed by women’s behavior” (Townsend, 145). Men tend to be confused because of their failure to recognize the distinction between emotional and material investment, frustrated, and find women’s words and actions often contradicting. Basically women want men to be sensitive and loving yet at other times passionate, strong, and powerful. Women can often alternate without warning between all of these varying desires, needs, and emotions, expecting men to know how to fulfill them.
Once a relationship becomes more serious most women want to see signs of investment. These investments can include anything from material, to financial, to his seriousness in committing to the relationship. “...like his ability to support a family at the level she has attained or aspires to, or emotional, like remembering her birthday with flowers or a sentimental gift... As one woman told me, it is not necessarily the value of the card or gift the man offers that is so important, but rather the evidence that he was thinking about her, he cared enough about her and her feelings to remember, and to take the time...” (Townsend, 146).
But some women who focus more upon the material aspects a man can offer her, often end up in relationships with men who treat them badly. It is not that the women are attracted to this abusive behavior but instead that, “...they are attracted to men whose status makes them attractive to many women and this allows the men to indulge their desires for partner variety and low- investment sex. Such men offer high risk and high potential. If a women can secure a reliable commitment from such a man, she has garnered a top- quality man, but the risks of his philandering and eventually deserting her are high” (Townsend, 146).
While there are other women who are more cautious and look for a variety of characteristics in a man, such as a “...reliability of investment: the good steady provider who will be a good husband and father” (Townsend, 146). Overall women’s main objective in mate selection is to secure the maximum investment possible. They may weigh all of the factors and all of their options, involving “potential for investment versus reliability and risk” (Townsend, 146).
Gloria, a businesswoman, did research on men’s polygynous tendencies after she broke up with her husband. She has trouble getting men she finds attractive to invest in her, so she has tried dating men in lower socioeconomic levels. “One thing I learned was that if you want a monogamous relationship with an aggressive, goal oriented man, just forget it... while these guys need the secure, little happy home, they want to screw around too... I am dating a couple of working- class guys now and it’s different. I’m in control. I know that i am playing with these men in a way, but I am trying to find out where I do not play games, where is that level that satisfies my needs....I sort of push them away if they want to be in love with me, because I don’t want to be in love with them. I could never marry any of these men” (Townsend, 147).
Chelsea is 21, and felt used and abused by the men she found the most attractive, so she decided to always date down, below her social class, in order to increase her power and to control the amount of emotional investment she received. “... college guys are not interested- at least not the best-looking, most popular guys, which was what I was trying to date... It was a conscious decision to date down. I could call the shots and have as much adulation as I wanted, as long as I was careful in choosing... The disadvantages of this arrangement are that I get bored because this guy is so manageable, and it’s not real” (Townsend, 148-9).
“What is romance?” is a typical question. One clear example can be found in all romantic fiction, where women wish to get a high status man to love, adore, and invest in her too. In all romantic fiction stories, whether they are set in the past or the present one can find a heroine struggling to achieve her goals (mostly personal), a high class/ status man (the hero), and another sensitive, devoted, loyal man hanging around, waiting. The market for romantic fiction is huge, international, and mostly female. While on the other hand the market for men are adventure stories and pornography. “As gender expert John Money stated, romantic fiction is the true pornography of women. Some women consider romantic fiction trite and inane. But whether they know it or not, their selection and rejection of partners, and their goals and dissatisfactions in relationships, exhibit the same basic tendencies and themes that make up the core of romantic fiction” (Townsend, 149-50).
Various studies have been done on whether or not women like dominant men. “Many social scientists have predicted that... once independent women no longer have to acquire status and resources through men, these female preferences will become less prevalent, both in fact and in fiction. Yet this is not happening” (150). Over and over again women with more resources and status tend to raise their socioeconomic standards for partners any ways.
The women want a man that is a challenge, someone they can admire, and respect. Some of the women also want a man who they feel can protect them because it makes them feel secure. Yet when men were asked what they most desired in a woman, no man gave answers similar to what the women did.
Carol is a second- year medical student, who prefers a man who is a bit ahead of her. She believes that men like this are a challenge because he has greater knowledge and achievements in certain areas. This advantage makes him worthy of her respect, admiration, more attractive to her. “ I want a man I can be proud of. I need someone to challenge me... You don’t want to be pushed around, but you want a man that you can respect” (Townsend, 151).
While women might like their men to be dominant at times, they have also figured out subtle ways to in a sense test their men. Quite frequently, women’s standards for mates will increase with their own success and their discovery of possible alternatives. And they will consciously or unconsciously test, compare, and then evaluate the quality of their partners’ investments. Some of the ways that women will test the quality of their partner’s investment will be through: evoking jealousy, provoking competition with other men, or in (domestic) arguments. The majority of women were trying to see how much their partners cared about them, to increase their partners’ interest and willingness to invest, and to test their man’s limits. But most women are not even conscious of their main purpose when they are testing their mates. Pat says, “I think that there’s a thin line between a guy being sensitive and being a wimp. I want a man who loves me and is considerate, but if he can’t stand up to me, I can’t respect him and it won’t work” (Townsend, 154-5). “Debbie’s boyfriend failed his first year in medical school and was having to repeat it. For her this was the major dissatisfaction with the relationship. She felt he was draining her, and she did not want to have to take care of him through marriage. She decided she wanted to look around” (Townsend, 155). Debbie: “I get bored with a man who isn’t a challenge- who is to willing to please.
Psychologist Edward Sadalla and colleagues conducted a series of experiments looking at dominance and sexual attractiveness. In the first experiment subjects saw videos of simulated job interviews. Half of the male subjects saw an actress who acted in non-verbal dominant ways. She acted confidently, made direct eye contact, and sat up straight. While the other half of the men saw the exact same actress acting insecure and subservient, she acted nervous, jumpy, and slumped in her chair. The procedure was identical for female subjects except that they saw a video of a male being interviewed. Women found the actor a lot more sexually attractive and desirable as a date when he acted dominant. But men were unaffected in their ratings of the actresses’ attractiveness whether she acted dominant or not.
Then the experimenters then had various college students rate the attractiveness of people based upon descriptions that were given to them. The people were described in ways that made them seem focused, competitive, and successful or confused, uncompetitive, and less successful. In all of the experiments women’s ratings of the men’s attractiveness and desirability as dates were strongly affected by the descriptions they read. While the men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness were not affected.
“Evolutionary psychologists argue that men and women have evolved different reproductive strategies, and because of this, dominance has different meanings for men and women” (Townsend, 157). Women who mate with a dominant man will positively gain many things. In a short- term relationship she will have a greater access to resources, which will give herself and her offspring advantages over the mates and offspring of less dominant males. While in a long- term relationship the woman may pass along to her offspring traits that designate advantages in competition for status and resources.
“In a study by psychologists David Buss and David Schmitt, women rated high and immediate investment as more important in short- term than in long-term relationships” (Townsend, 159). This is because in long-term relationships investment is more certain and constantly adding up. While in short- term relationships there are hardly any expectations of this kind so women demand investment right away.
It has also been asked “whether or not men test women?”. “About half of the men we interviewed said that they tested for jealousy and how much their partners cared for them, but this was only with someone they were really interested in- in other words, someone in whom they might be willing to invest” (Townsend, 160). The majority of men also said that they wanted their mate to be a challenge, sensible, and to have a backbone. Basically men wanted almost a mirror image of what women wanted, that someone who did not demand investment, would not get respect or the investment either.
Practically all women at one time or another have experienced rejection in relationships, in a way showing them where their limits may be. As shown before most women (and men) like someone who is a challenge, someone who is confident, attractive, and secure enough not to rush into things with just anyone who will accept them. Women are attracted to men who have a lot to offer and are difficult to catch because it is a challenge, exciting, and it can show that the man values himself and is worthy. When most women find men like this they then must convince him that she is special and worthy of his commitments and investments. It is during all of this that she is in a sense testing herself and her limits, seeing how far she is willing to go, and can with or without being rejected.
How women form their standards. “In choosing partners for serious relationships, a woman will measure potential mates against her own achievements. Women want to marry men in levels that are equal to or higher than the levels they have attained themselves...” (Townsend, 161). In addition to this women are also affected by their own social class. For example if a woman comes from an upper- middle- class family, she will generally prefer to marry a man who can provide a very similar or even better lifestyle.
While men and women share various characteristics, and more and more women are successfully competing with men in almost every aspect, they continue to differ the most in their sexual psychology. “The different reproductive strategies of men and women have been a central feature of our evolution, and our sexual behavior and reproduction are mediated by our sexual psychology- the emotions, desires, fears, and aversions that motivate and channel our sexual behavior” (Townsend, 163-4). Women continue to find men more sexually attractive due mostly to the level of their dominance.Today women also refer to men like this as a “challenge.” Women are still following old patterns, unconsciously, in hopes of getting a dominant man, who is respected, ambitious, and successful to invest in her and her children. But for men dominance makes no huge difference in their choice of women. “Dominance may make a women more interesting as a person, but it has little effect on her sexual attractiveness” (Townsend, 164).
Women’s Desire for Material Investment
Emotional investment is meaningless if the man has nothing material to offer.
The signs of emotional investment are important to women, but not sufficient.
In this chapter, we will explore how status, ambition, wealth, and success – the signs that a partner is able to invest – interact with physical traits to determine sexual attractiveness.
I. Status Cues
A. Women’s assessments of sexual attractiveness are more influenced by signs of status than men’s are.
B. The Costume Experiment
1. Men rate women’s attractiveness independent of how they are dressed.
2. Women rate men’s attractiveness depending on how they are dressed.
C. Peer Opinion
1. Men rate women’s attractiveness independent of peer opinion.
2. Women’s ratings of men’s attractiveness are strongly affected by what other women say about the man.
a. Evolutionary Explanation: Ignoring information about potential mates could be risky.
b. Evolutionary Explanation: Sexy son hypothesis.
D. Social Status, Competitive Arenas, and Attractiveness
1. Social status is a relative characteristic.
a. Status is determined by a person’s rank and standing within a particular hierarchy.
2. A woman’s perception of a man’s status and attractiveness is influenced by her own status within the hierarchy.
a. Women prefer men with more status than their own.
b. In a study, no woman preferred a spouse with income inferior to hers, but about half of the men expressed this preference.
3. Women are attracted to signs of status and success because the men with these qualities are able to invest more in them and their offspring.
a. Dual requirements: A man must be competitive and tough in the outside world, yet must also demonstrate his willingness to invest in her by being considerate, affectionate, and nurturing.
II. Status Hierarchies
A. There are numerous different hierarchies in society and a man’s status is always relative to that of other men in his arena.
1. A man’s attractiveness therefore changes dramatically as he moves between different circles.
2. There are many different circles, and subcultures, each with its own status hierarchies.
B. Status Barriers
1. Women prefer not to “date down.”
a. In a study, women university students did not frequent bars where men from local community colleges hung out, nor did they date these men.
C. The Preppy-Crunchy-Townie Experiment
1. Participants saw photographs and descriptions of models of the opposite sex who were dressed in the costumes of a preppy, a crunchy, and a townie.
2. Preppy Description
a. V-neck sweater over an oxford pinstriped shirt and khaki pants.
b. University student, ambitious, motivated.
3. Crunchy Description
a. Faded, torn jeans, a headband, a tie-dyed t-shirt, single strand of beads
b. Environmentalist, university student, laid back, enjoys outdoors, hiking.
4. Townie Description
a. Male: silk shirt (top three buttons open), gold medallion, black slacks.
b. Community college or no college attendance at all, “cruises for chicks with his boys,” likes LL Cool J.
5. Results of Experiment
a. Even with the best-looking model, women said they were unwilling to have sexual relations when he was dressed and described as a Townie.
b. Men found the prettiest models acceptable for sexual relations regardless of their costumes or descriptions.
c. Men and women were equally willing to date and marry the Preppy and equally unwilling to date and marry the Townie.
d. Women were more willing to have sex with the Crunchy than to marry him. Women expect a more financially secure marriage lifestyle.
D. Attractiveness, Educational Achievement, and Social Class
1. Men found the prettiest models desirable for dating and sexual relations, and even marriage, regardless of their costumes, educational achievement, occupations, and incomes, provided they are not really low-class.
2. Women were negative about any type of relationship with low-achieving men. Men’s income, occupation, and education are often major keys in determining acceptability as dates, sexual partners, or spouses.
III. Rating Attractiveness
A. The Bathing Suit Experiment
1. Participants saw photos of models in bathing suits and were asked to rate their attractiveness. All the models were professional and very physically attractive.
2. When descriptions of either high or low status of the models were added to the photos, women’s ratings varied far more than men’s.
I. Women’s Quest for Investment
A. Women seek men who offer both emotional and material investment.
1. Women want men who are tender and loving with them, but are successful winners in the real world.
2. Material investment can include being able to provide for a family.
3. Emotional investment can include remembering her birthday and giving gifts.
4. The central goal in women’s selections of mates is to secure the maximum investment possible.
a. Weighing factors such as investment potential vs. reliability and risk.
5. Women dichotomize the world of men into wimps, geeks, and nerds on one side, and bastards and pricks on the other side.
a. The former side is willing to invest, but do not measure up to women’s standards.
b. The latter side measures up to women’s standards, but is unwilling to invest and is a risky venture for women.
B. What Is Romance?
1. Female Problem: How does a woman get a highly attractive, high-status man to invest his resources exclusively to her and her future offspring?
a. Romance novels highlight this problem that the heroine faces.
2. Men must be successful or they will not get the woman in the end.
C. Do Women Like Dominant Men?
1. In general, women prefer men who earn more income and are higher status than they are.
2. Women with more resources, success, education, and ambition tend to raise their socioeconomic standards for men.
3. When asked what they most desired in a man, over half the female medical students stated they wanted a man who was a challenge.
4. One-third said they wanted a man who made them feel protected.
a. They were vague in describing what they needed protection from.
5. Women like men who are “hard to get” but not impossible. When guys are too easy to get, women are likely to get bored because there is no fun in the chase.
6. Even avid feminists prefer dominant men who are above them professionally and financially, provided that the men do not use these advantages to hinder the careers of the women.
D. Do Women Test Men?
1. Some women test the quality of their partners’ investments by provoking them into competition with other men.
a. Some women flirt with other men and provoke jealousy to see how much their partners care about them and to increase their partners’ interest and willingness to invest.
b. Some women test their boyfriends to see how far they could push them before they drew the line.
2. Sometimes, women test men by provoking arguments to see how capable they are of expressing intense emotions, just to get a rise out of them.
3. Most women who test men are not conscious of their purpose in doing so.
II. Dominance, Attractiveness, and Polygyny
A. Dominance and Sexual Attractiveness
1. Women find dominant men more sexually attractive and desirable than insecure or subordinate men.
a. Dominance, prowess and success are essential traits in men when women rate their attractiveness.
2. Men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness are unaffected by whether or not the woman is dominant.
a. More dominant women are no less attractive than more traditional, passive women.
b. Men are not necessarily turned off by women’s confidence and success.
c. When men rate women’s sexual attractiveness, such traits are negligible.
3. Evolutionary Explanation for Why Women Prefer Dominant Men
a. In the long term, the woman may pass on favorable traits (advantages in competition for resources) to her offspring.
b. In the short term, the woman will gain access to resources for her and her offspring.
B. Status and Attractiveness
1. Status within a particular hierarchy, rather than physical appearance, determines men’s attractiveness.
2. Each hierarchy has its own distinct set of “groupies,” or group of women who hang out and “hook up” with members of the particular hierarchy.
a. Football groupies are not interested in punk bands, etc.
C. How Women Form Their Standards
1. In choosing men for serious relationships, women measure potential mates against her own achievements.
2. Women want to marry men in levels that are equal to or higher than their own.
3. For women, an essential component is dominance.
a. Dominance indicates that a man can protect and provide for a woman and her offspring.
b. If a woman can gain a dominant man’s investment, she will benefit herself and her future offspring.
A. Three Interesting Points
1. How women’s ratings of men’s attractiveness varies more than men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness.
2. How women rate men’s attractiveness based not only on physical attributes, but also status, clothes, education, etc. Costume experiment. Attractiveness is based on what men are able to offer.
3. Social scientists predicted that as women acquired more of their own status and wealth, female preferences for dominant males would become less prevalent; yet this is not happening. Why? Due to evolution, women are genetically programmed to desire dominant males.
B. Weak/Confusing Cases
1. Too narrow of a focus. Focused only on high status, upper class medical and law students. Missed the lower class perspective.
2. He never actually explained what romance was, despite the fact that the title of chapter seven is “Romance, Male Dominance, and the Quest for Investment.”
3. Preppy-Crunchy-Townie does not represent everybody. Too stereotypical.
C. Needed to Explain Further / We Had Questions About
1. More explanation on emotional investment and romance. He went into great detail about material investment and status, but did not touch upon enough the importance of emotional investment and romance.
2. The section “Do men test women?” was very brief and needed further explanation.
3. He covered the proximate perspective quite well, explaining everything about how women want men to be, but he did not go into enough detail regarding the evolutionary perspective. He needed to further explain why, from an evolutionary standpoint, are women the way they are in terms of their mate preferences.