[Paleopsych] BH: Men Avoid Marrying Strong Women
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Fri Jan 28 16:30:55 UTC 2005
Betterhumans > Study: Men Avoid Marrying Strong Women
Finding supports anecdotal evidence and reinforces evolutionary theory of
human mate selection
12/10/2004 3:20 PM
Men don't want to marry powerful women, shows a new study that
supports anecdotal evidence and reinforces evolutionary theories of
human mate selection.
The study highlights the importance of relational dominance in mate
selection and discusses the evolutionary utility of male concerns
about mating with dominant females.
"These findings provide empirical support for the widespread belief
that powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market
because men may prefer to marry less accomplished women," says social
psychologist and study lead author Stephanie Brown of the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
With the help of a grant from the US National Institute of Mental
Health, Brown and coauthor Brian Lewis from the University of
California, Los Angeles tested 120 male and 208 female undergraduates
by asking them to rate their attraction and desire to affiliate with a
man and a woman they were said to know from work.
"Imagine that you have just taken a job and that Jennifer (or John) is
your immediate supervisor (or your peer, or your assistant)," study
participants were told as they were shown a photo of a male or a
After seeing the photo and hearing the description of the person's
role at work in relation to their own, participants were asked to use
a nine-point scale (in which one is not at all, and nine is very much)
to rate the extent to which they would enjoy going to a party with
Jennifer or John, exercising with the person, dating the person and
marrying the person.
Brown and Lewis found that males, but not females, were most strongly
attracted to subordinate partners for high-investment activities such
as marriage and dating.
"Our results demonstrate that male preference for subordinate women
increases as the investment in the relationship increases," says
Brown. "This pattern is consistent with the possibility that there
were reproductive advantages for males who preferred to form long-term
relationships with relatively subordinate partners.
"Given that female infidelity is a severe reproductive threat to males
only when investment is high, a preference for subordinate partners
may provide adaptive benefits to males in the context of only
long-term, investing relationships--not one-night stands."
According to Brown, the findings are consistent with earlier research
showing that expressions of vulnerability enhance female
attractiveness. "Our results also provide further explanation for why
males might attend to dominance-linked characteristics of women such
as relative age or income, and why adult males typically prefer
partners who are younger and make less money."
The research is reported in the journal Evolution and Human
Behavior (read abstract).
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