Socio-Cultural Context in Female's Mate Preferences

Nowhere do people have the same level of attraction for all individuals of the other sex. Wherever certain prospective partners are favored while others are avoided, consider attempting to stay warm by a fire, find prey for your family, and gather nuts, berries, and herbs while avoiding threatening animals and aggressive people. Our existence would be in jeopardy, and our ability to reproduce threatened if we chose a partner who did not provide the resources promised, had affairs, was sluggish, lacked hunting abilities, or heaped physical abuse on us.

As opposed to this, a partner who was generous with their money, watched out for our kids and us, and put in much time, effort, and thought for our family would be a fantastic benefit. Several particular wants arose as a result of the significant survival and reproduction benefits that those of our ancestors who made intelligent partner selections enjoyed. Modern humans have acquired a particular set of partner preferences from those evolutionary lottery winners.

Mate Preferences in Females

Several non-human creatures have acquired partner preferences, according to scientists. A striking image is the weaverbird of an African community. When a female weaverbird approaches a male, the male exposes his newly constructed nest by hanging upside down from the ground and fiercely beating his wings. If the male has captured her attention, the female will approach the nest, enter it, and investigate the nesting materials for up to 10 minutes. The man is singing to her as he inspects her.

She may decide at any moment throughout this process that the nest does not suit her criteria, in which case she will check out another male's nest. When multiple females reject his nest, a male frequently destroys it and starts over with a new one. The female weaverbird solves the issue of guarding and feeding her offspring by favoring males who can construct superior nests. Her preferences have changed because they gave her a reproductive edge over other weaverbirds who paired with any available guy.

Like weaverbirds, women favor guys with various "nests" for them. One challenge women faced during evolution was finding a male who was prepared to commit to a long-term relationship. In our evolutionary past, a woman who chose to mate with a male who was impulsive, philandering, flighty, or unable to maintain partnerships found herself raising her children alone without the resources, help, or protection that a more trustworthy spouse may have provided. A woman who wished to have children with a trustworthy guy prepared to settle down for her would have chosen to mate with such a man.

Women have developed a predilection through thousands of generations for males who exhibit symptoms of being ready and able to commit, much as weaverbirds have developed a preference for partners with large enough nests. Similar to how dietary preferences helped with crucial survival issues, this preference addressed important reproductive issues.

Sociocultural Context and Mating Preference

The sociocultural theory of mating preference predicts that, in general, the greater the similarity of social roles between the sexes, the greater the preference and choice. The mating choices of males and females will be more similar. Choosing a partner is an essential link in the continuous development of human society and is a complex issue in decision-making. Partner selection is concerned not only with the preferences of individuals in choosing a mate but also with the methods used by individuals in choosing a mate.

Resources, as a virtual currency in mate selection, play a decisive role in mate choice decision-making and have attracted the attention of many researchers. Many other factors also influence preference for mate cues, such as culture, actual sex ratio, values, mate values, aesthetic standards, the purpose of choosing friends—life, and ability to obtain resources.

Researchers have proposed theoretical models of mate selection from many angles. In the early stages of this research, mate selection was often studied from the perspective of evolutionary psychology as a means of reproduction. However, mate selection is both a biological instinct and a result of socialization.

In recent years, researchers have proposed to treat mate selection as a type of decision-making in pursuit of an optimization goal. Research has shown that women show a much stricter preference than men for partners with good income potential or higher education.

Temporal Context

A mating connection can last a lifetime, although most matings are shorter. Buss and Schmitt (1993) asked undergraduate women to assess the attractiveness of sixty-seven traits in short-term and long-term partners. The scale went from (very unfavorable) to (extremely desirable). Women preferred the following attributes in long-term marital situations over short-term sexual contexts: "ambitious and career-oriented," "college graduate," "creative," "devoted to you," "loving of children," "kind," "understanding," "responsible," and "cooperative."

These data imply that the temporal context is crucial for women, producing alterations in their choices depending on whether a marriage spouse or a casual sex partner is sought.

In another research, evolutionary psychologist Joanna Scheib (1997) created stimuli that included images matched with textual descriptions of the personality traits assumed to represent the individuals in each shot. The textual descriptions stressed dependability, loyalty, kindness, maturity, patience, etc. One hundred sixty heterosexual women were shown pairs of these photographs with accompanying captions. Participants were given five pairs of the stimulus males and instructed to pick one.

When considering a possible marriage, women preferred males with positive characteristics such as dependability, kindness, and maturity over short-term sex partners. Context-sensitive preferences arose due to an experimental manipulation in which women were forced to trade off attractive appearances for the character. Women in long-term marriages tended to prioritize character above appearance.

Family Context: Women's Mate Value

Physical beauty and youth determine a woman's mate value or overall attraction to men. As a result, younger and more physically appealing women have more mating possibilities and can be more selective in their choices. Does a woman's mate's worth, however, impact her partner's preferences? To discover, evolutionary psychologist Anthony Little and his colleagues asked 71 women to rank their physical beauty and then showed them photographs of men's features that ranged along the masculinity-femininity spectrum

The attraction to masculine faces was highly related to women's self-rated attractiveness: The correlation between the two variables was +.32. Another study discovered that attractive feminine women preferred masculine men as long-term partners over less attractive masculine women. In a second study of 91 women, the same researchers discovered that women who consider themselves physically attractive had a stronger preference for symmetrical male features.

They found no association between women's self-rated beauty and a preference for symmetrical female faces in a critical control condition. This shows that the preference shift observed with male faces is not due to broad judgments of beauty; instead, it appears to be related to partner choice.

Recent studies of personalized advertising in Canada, the United States, and Poland revealed that women with more excellent mate value—younger and more physically attractive—specified a longer list of criteria in a possible partner than women with lower mate value. Brazil and Japan produced nearly similar findings. In questionnaire research, women who view themselves as having more excellent mate value tended to set higher minimum expectations for what they would expect from a long-term spouse on a wide range of qualities, including socioeconomic position, IQ, and family orientation. These research all point to the same basic conclusion: women with more excellent mate value prefer and seek males with higher mate value, as shown in masculinity, symmetry, and the sheer number of attributes that contribute to men's appeal.


The sociocultural theory of mating preference predicts that the greater the similarity of social roles between the sexes, the greater the preference and choice of males and females. Resources, culture, actual sex ratio, values, mate values, aesthetic standards, the purpose of choosing friends, and ability to obtain resources all influence mate choice decision-making. Buss and Schmitt (1993) found that women preferred the following attributes in long-term marital situations.

Physical beauty and youth determine a woman's mate value and attraction to men, but does a woman's worth impact her partner's preferences? Anthony Little and his colleagues found that attractive feminine women preferred masculine men as long-term partners over less attractive masculine women, while women who consider themselves physically attractive had a stronger preference for symmetrical male features.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2023


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