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Kindness, Intelligence Important in Mate Selection Kindness, Intelligence Important in Mate Selection
Wed May 29, 5:35 PM ET

By Charnicia E. Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The idea that men are interested in a woman's beauty while women are interested in the size of a man's wallet is overly simplistic, according to new study findings.

The truth is, though attractiveness and income may indeed be factors of interest, qualities such as kindness and creativity are also very important, researchers report.

Norman P. Li, a PhD candidate at Arizona State University, and his colleagues studied two groups of undergraduate men and women who were given a budget of "mate" dollars and told to spend the appropriate amount on the qualities most important to them.

When under budget constraints, women placed the most importance--meaning they spent the highest proportion of their mate dollars--on intelligence or kindness and yearly income/social level, whereas men placed the most importance on physical attractiveness and intelligence, the investigators report in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (news - web sites).

"Everyone really wants a well-rounded mate, but physical attractiveness matters first and social status matters first to men and women, respectively," Li explained.

Yet, when given additional income to spend on luxuries, men and women did not allocate more dollars towards physical attractiveness and social status, respectively, but rather added qualities such as creativity and special nonwork talents.

"At a low budget you really can't have it all," Li said, so "you tend to spend money on necessities; when you start getting more money, you spend towards luxuries."

Lastly, the investigators conducted a third study in which they asked 58 undergraduates to participate in a computer activity to choose the qualities most essential to them in a mate.

Similar to the previous two study findings, women chose social level first, with kindness as a close second. For men, physical attractiveness and kindness topped the list.

Overall, for both men and women, a person's physical attractiveness, social level and kindness were key to their being accepted or rejected as a potential mate. Men also considered a woman's liveliness as a crucial factor, the report indicates.

"If you want to find a mate, you don't have to be the most physically attractive or the richest," Li said.

SOURCE: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2002;82:947-955.

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