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Experimental Psychology: Better chances for women who are looking for men who cook and clean

The discussion is open, how two theories - evolutionary psychology and social structural theory - apply to mate preferences: The main focus in evolutionary psychology is reproduction of future generations. Social structural theory maintains that sex differences result from changes in society and social roles occupied by men and women; social structural theory also draws upon cultural explanations.

Adrian Hoffmann and Jochen Musch (University Düsseldorf) investigated sex differences in mate preferences and report (in Abstracts of the 55th Conference of Experimental Psychologists):
 
"Consistent with an evolutionary approach to explaining mate preferences in long-term relationships, it has been argued that there is a male preference for beauty, and a female preference for resources. The competing sociocultural approach considers mate preferences to be the product of social conditions, and therefore predicts an assimilation of male and female mate preferences as a result of the convergence of gender roles in modern societies.
 
In a large-scale assessment of 1613 participants, direct questioning resulted in prevalence estimates that were consistent with the evolutionary approach: Male participants indicated less interest in a potential relationship with a physically unattractive female, whereas female participants indicated less interest in a potential relationship with a male lacking financial resources.
 
These sex differences in preference for beauty versus resources disappeared, however, when an indirect questioning technique based on the Crosswise-Model was employed. This surprising finding suggests that direct responses regarding mate preferences may be systematically distorted by social desirability bias, and that true preferences may be less asymmetrical than predicted by evolutionary theory."
 
Laura Helmuth criticizes (in Slate): "Too often evolutionary psychology is a force for social conservativism. Researchers identify a pattern of behavior, usually some stereotypical sex difference (in part because it´s easy to measure whether men and women score differently on a standardized test), construct a scenario in which that behavior would have been adaptive in the past, and say the behavior is therefore evolutionarily selected and encoded in our genes ..."




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