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Posted January 5, Reviewed by Ekua Hagan. Consider the characteristics that are often considered desirable in a mate—a sense of humorintelligencekindness, understanding, a family orientation, good looks. Which would you rank as most important in a romantic partner? Which is least important to you? Research consistently shows that we rank most or all of these traits as more important than good looks Apostolou, ; Apostolou, ; Buss et al. However, consciously ranking traits as more or less important may not reflect the way we make our real-life dating and mating decisions.
Louise told me that looks were not that important to her, but that a good sense of humor was a must. Physical attractiveness may serve as a gatekeeper directing us toward partners who are healthy, age appropriate, and able to reproduce Weeden and Sabini, And when we make real-life dating and mating decisions, research indicates, physical appearance dominates: We choose to pursue relationships with those who are attractive to us see Luo and Zhang, ; Kurzban and Weeden, ; Thao et al.
Men both gay and straight seem to consciously recognize the importance of physical attractiveness more than women both straight and lesbian; see Lippa, However, experimental research, as well as evidence from online dating and speed dating, shows that physical attractiveness is equally important to men and women. Further, attractiveness tends to be a more important factor in our dating decisions than traits like personalityeducationand intelligence Eastwick et al. Physical attractiveness may be so important to us because we associate other positive qualities with a pleasing appearance.
For example, attractive individuals are expected to be happier and to have more rewarding life experiences than unattractive individuals Dion et al. This tendency to associate attractiveness with positive qualities occurs crossculturally Shaffer et al. In Dion et al. To interest us, then, potential mates do not need to be exceptionally attractive, only moderately so. The distinction between necessities and luxuries Li et al. According to Li et al.
But how attractive is "moderately" attractive? More attractive people tend to perceive fewer others as physically attractive while less attractive individuals may consider a broader range of others appealing Montoya, But no matter our personal level of attractiveness, or our partner's, as we get to know, like, and respect each other more, our attraction naturally grows and deepens Kniffin and Wilson, The longer we know each other, the less important physical attractiveness becomes to beginning and maintaining a long-term relationship Hunt et al.
Copyright Madeleine A. Apostolou, M. Parent—offspring conflict over mating: Domains of agreement and disagreement. Evolutionary Psychology, 13 3 Parent-offspring conflict over mating: Testing the tradeoffs hypothesis. Evolutionary Psychology, 9,— Buss, D. A half century of mate preferences: The cultural evolution of values. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63 2— Dion, K.
What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24 3— Eastwick, P. Implicit and explicit preferences for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner: A double dissociation in predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5— Sex differences in mate preferences revisited: Do people know what they initially desire in a romantic partner?
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94 2— Matching for attractiveness in romantic partners and same-sex friends: A meta-analysis and theoretical critique. Psychological Bulletin, 2— Mis matching in physical attractiveness and women's resistance to mate guarding.
Personality and Individual Differences, 87, Griffin, A. Stereotype directionality and attractiveness stereotyping: Is beauty good or is ugly bad? Social Cognition, 24 2— Kurzban, R. HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26 3— Li, N. Mate preferences in the US and Singapore: A cross-cultural test of the mate preference priority model.
Personality and Individual Differences, 50 2 Lippa, R. The preferred traits of mates in a cross-national study of heterosexual and homosexual men and women: An examination of biological and cultural influences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36 2— Luo, S. What le to romantic attraction: Similarity, reciprocity, security, or beauty? Evidence from a speed-dating study. Journal of Personality, 77 4— Montoya, R. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34 10— Perilloux, C. Meet the parents: Parent-offspring convergence and divergence in mate preferences.
Shaffer, D. Physical attractiveness stereotyping in cross-cultural perspective: Similarities and differences between Americans and Taiwanese. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 31 5— Sprecher, S. The importance to males and females of physical attractiveness, earning potential, and expressiveness in initial attraction. Sex Roles, 21 9—10— Thao, H. Effects of attractiveness and social status on dating desire in heterosexual adolescents: An experimental study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39 5— Weeden, J. Physical attractiveness and health in Western societies: A review.
Psychological Bulletin, 5— Zebrowitz, L. First impressions from faces among U. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43 1— Madeleine A. Worry is driven by mood, not logic. Anxiety holds your deepest yearnings. And you can subdue it for good.
Three experts turn everything you know about anxiety inside out. Dating and Mating. References Apostolou, M. About the Author. Read Next. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist.Do u think looks are important
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Are Looks Important in a Marriage Decision?