Washington, Feb 14 : Being attractive is just as good for your romantic prospects as being a good earner, says a new study.
The study of romantic attraction undertaken by two Northwestern University psychologists, found that men primarily are motivated by good looks and women by earning power.
In the study, the romantic lives of study participants were scrutinized for a month, including their prospects within and outside of a speed-dating event.
What people said and did in choosing romantic partners were two different matters.
"True to the stereotypes, the initial self-reports of male participants indicated that they cared more than women about a romantic partner's physical attractiveness, and the women in the study stated more than men that earning power was an aphrodisiac," said Paul Eastwick, lead author of the study and graduate student in psychology in the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.
But in reality men and women were equally inspired by physical attraction and equally inspired by earning power or ambition.
"In other words good looks was the primary stimulus of attraction for both men and women, and a person with good earning prospects or ambition tended to be liked as well. Most noteworthy, the earning-power effect as well as the good-looks effect didn't differ for men and women," said Eli Finkel, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern.
Participants' preferences based on their live romantic interactions contrasted with the ideal sex-differentiated preferences that they reported 10 days before the speed-dating event.
"We found that the romantic dynamics that occurred at the speed-dating event and during the following 30-day period had little to do with the sex-differentiated preferences stated on the questionnaires," said Finkel. The speed-dating methodology allowed the Northwestern researchers to move beyond the abstract world of romantic ideals to see how people actually rated a number of flesh-and-blood people regarding physical attractiveness, ambition and earning power.
"If you were to tell me that you prefer physically attractive romantic partners, I would expect to see that you indeed are more attracted to physically attractive partners. But our participants didn't pursue their ideal in this way. This leads us to question whether people know what they initially value in a romantic partner," said Eastwick.
The study "Sex Differences in Mate Preferences Revisited: Do People Know What They Initially Desire in a Romantic Partner"" is published in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.