For Richer or For Poorer: How Financial Resources Affect Women’s Mate-Value




Fisher, Alexandra

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Research on mate preferences suggests that men value physical attractiveness and youthfulness most in potential partners, whereas women value status and resources most in a potential partner (Buss, 1989). These differences in mate preferences have implications for the value men and women place on these characteristics (e.g. attractiveness and resources) in potential mates. A man’s attractiveness and financial resources both contribute positively to his mate-value, (Sprecher, 1989; Townsend & Levy, 1990). A woman’s attractiveness also contributes to her mate-value (Sprecher, 1989; Townsend & Levy, 1990), but the value of her resources is less clear. I expected that men’s evaluation of a woman’s financial resources would be dependent on her level of attractiveness. I hypothesized that a woman’s financial resources would add to her mate-value when she was highly attractive, but detract from her mate-value when she was typically attractive. In Study 1, a woman of varying attractiveness (typical vs. high) approached men on campus and delivered a speech that conveyed her future income (low vs. high). Men’s reported desire to join her focus group was used as measure of their impressions of her mate-value. Study 2 directly assesses participant’s romantic interest in targets of varying income (low vs. high) and attractiveness (typical vs. high) using a controlled laboratory method where both men and women evaluated a profile of a potential romantic partner. The results of both studies supported my hypotheses. This research provides insight into the complicated nature of a woman’s financial resources as part of her overall mate-value.



mate preferences, gender roles, person perception, attraction, impression formation, stereotypes, financial resources, income, physical attractiveness, romantic relationships, mate selection