Human Mate SelectionHow do two individuals become a couple?
Why Do People Need a Partner?• Desire for intimacy (emotional & sexual)• Establishing a family, procreation• Benefits mental & physical health• Social & financial stability• Cultural expectations (e.g. status)(Sassler, 2010)
Components of Mating Strategies• Biological: Physiological aspects including physical arousal,attraction, and neurological effects of attraction.• Learned: Molded through social learning, interaction of sexualscripts, and mental schemas.• Cognitive: Maintenance of the relationship, and selection ofmate based on all characteristics. Including control andresponse to internal/external stimuli.
Theories on Human Mating Behavior• Sexual Selection (Evolution, Darwin)• Motivation Systems: Sexual Arousal• Homogamy (“Like Marries Like”)• Complementary Needs theory (“Opposites Attract”)• Exchange Theory• Time & Place Theory (“Happy Collision”)• Filter theory -- We filter out people that don’t meet ourcriteria
Origins: Evolutionary PerspectiveHuman beings are a result of a long line of successful maters.As a result, what we now define as ‘mating strategies’ drive themotivations of humankind toward the perpetuation of thespecies.
Mating Strategy• Evolutionary view: defined as a Darwinist mechanism thatenables the human species to reproduce with the mostsurvivable chances.• Biological: Driven by a sexual drive, classified as a baseinstinct of all mammalian species; utilizing specificphysiological and neurological structures to aid the process.• Cognitive: The higher-level thought processes available tohumans which influence and devise specific mating strategiesrelative to environmental cues.
Sexual Selection Theory (Darwin)• Males compete among themselves, to ward off predators andto become more attractive to females• Females then select the more agreeable partner• Different cultures have different views on attractiveness(Husain & Firdous, 1994)
Gender Differences: GeneralizationsLong-Term Female Mating Strategies• Mate who has (or can obtain) resources toinvest in raising offspring.• Mate who is willing to use those resourcesto raise offspring.• Capacity to physically protect both thefemale and her offspring.• Has or can develop good parenting skills• Mate who is compatible socially andemotionally• Physically healthy (Buss, 1999)Long Term Male Mating Strategies• Greater sexual access• Increased chances of paternity andcontinuance of bloodline.• Higher emphasis on physical standards ofbeauty and physical attributes
Motivation Systems: Sexual ArousalToates incentive-motivation model•Model of sexual motivation, arousal and behavior:•Incentive cues in the environment stimulates the nervoussystem leading to sexual motivation•Sexual motivation and behavior is then moderated by internalcognition (schemas and scripts) and external stimulation.(Physiological and neurological)
Homogamy Theory• “Like marries like”• We are attracted to people with similar characteristics:ethnicity, religion, career, education, hobbies & interests,physical stature & appearance(Husain & Firdous, 1994)
Theory of Propinquity• Marry people we know, or who we can find in our directsurroundings (e.g: school, college, work, neighbourhood, etc.)
Complementary Needs Theory• “Opposites Attract”• We find people that compliment our needs. We may beattracted to a partner who has a certain trait that we arelacking.(Husain & Firdous, 1994)
Exchange Theory• We evaluate our worth and find someone of similar worth.• We find people with similarities to us (looks for looks, moneyfor money, etc.)• Or: People will exchange or barter to make up in areas (i.e.my looks for your money).
Time and Place Theory(“Happy Collision”)• Fate: we marry the person we are supposed to when the timeis right.• This theory suggests that we could have married many of thepeople that we dated but the timing wasn’t right.• This is against society’s expectations that there are times inour life when we should get married because that is the nextstep: after college, after establishing our career, whenreturning from military service, etc.
Filter Theory• We filter out people that don’t meet our criteria• The three types of filters are:– Biological– Social– Psychological
Biological Filters• Most people choose the opposite gender.• We choose someone close to our age (e.g. most 22 year oldmen are not looking for a 54 year old woman)• We can rule out our relatives• Physical features are usually similar to ours, i.e. body type,weight, height, etc.
Social Filters• We often marry within our same social class or income level.• There is an increased chance of marriage success when westay within our own class.• Race is the least-likely line to be crossed in mate selection.• Most people marry within their own religion.• We try to find someone of similar intelligence and education.
Psychological Filters• Based on conscious and unconscious needs of people.• These needs are based on childhood experiences.• People will often marry someone similar to their opposite sexparent.
Challenges in Mate Selection• Priorities have changed in modern society: Shifted to careerand independence rather than family (Sassler, 2010).• Long term vs. Short term mating• Different strategies Male vs. Female
Short-Term Mating Strategies• Across most cultures, males were more likely to engage inshort-term mating strategies when compared to their femalecounterparts.• Evolution: males gain more by having access to a wider rangeof partners, whereas females are bound to invest more timewhen pregnancy occurs.• In short-term mating, physical attractiveness becomes moreof a priority than financial status and personal warmth (Li &Kenrick, 2006)
Mate Selection Over Life CoursePartnering behaviors may change over the life span•Marital delay•Divorce rate•Economic situation•Availability of potential partners•Different marriage aspirations in various stages of life(Sassler, 2010)
References• Buss, M. D., & Schmitt, P. D. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective onhuman mating. Psychological Review, Vol. 100, No 2, 204-232.• Clark, R. D., III & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers.Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2, 39-55.• Husain, A. & Firdous (1994). Human mating behaviour. New Delhi, India: Nothern BookCentre.• Li, N. P. & Kenrick, D. T. (2006). Sex similarities and differences in preferences for short-termmates: What, whether, and why. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2006, Vol. 90,No. 3, 468–489.• Sassler, S. (2010). Partnering across the life course: Sex, relationships, and mate selection.Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 3, 557-575.