The real difference between how men and women choose their partners


May 2, 2014 |

A hamburger that’s 90 per cent fat-free sounds a lot better than one with 10 per cent fat. And even when the choices are the same, humans are hard-wired to prefer the more positive option.

This is because of what’s known as the “framing effect,” a principle that new research from Concordia has proved applies to mate selection, too.

The study — co-authored by Concordia marketing professor Gad Saad and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Tripat Gill, and published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior — shows that when we choose a partner, the framing effect is even stronger in women than it is for men.

“When it comes to mate selection, women are more attuned to negatively framed information due to an evolutionary phenomenon called ‘parental investment theory,’” says Saad, who has done extensive research on the evolutionary and biological roots of consumer behavior.

“Choosing someone who might be a poor provider or an unloving father would have serious consequences for a woman and for her offspring. So we hypothesized that women would naturally be more leery of negatively framed information when evaluating a prospective mate.”

To prove this, Saad and Gill called on hundreds of young men and women to take part in their study.

Participants were given positively and negatively framed descriptions of potential partners. For example:

men women

“Seven out of 10 people who know this person think that this person is kind.”
[positive frame]
versus
“Three out of 10 people who know this person think that this person is not kind.”
[negative frame]

The researchers tested the framing effect using six key attributes, two of which are more important to men and women respectively, and two that are considered as necessities by both sexes:

  • Attractive body (more important to men)
  • Attractive face (more important to men)
  • Earning potential (more important to women)
  • Ambition (more important to women)
  • Kindness (equally important to both)
  • Intelligence (equally important to both)

Participants evaluated both high-quality (e.g. seven out of 10 people think this person is kind) and low-quality (e.g. three out of 10 people think this person is kind) prospective mates for these attributes, in the context of a short-term fling or a long-term relationship.

More often than not, women said they were far less likely to date the potential mates described in the negatively framed descriptions — even though in each instance, they were being presented with exactly the same information as in the positively framed descriptions.

Women also proved more susceptible to framing effects in attributes like ambition and earning potential, while men responded more strongly to framing when physical attractiveness was described.

This research highlights how an evolutionary lens could help explain the biologicial origins of seemingly “irrational” decision-making biases like the framing effect.

97 Responses to The real difference between how men and women choose their partners

  1. u14085110 May 8, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    it is really devastating to know that when women choose life partners ,they choose according to the life investment theory. they no longer choose partners because of love. this also contributes to them being abused because they end up being with the wrong kind of men.

  2. u14141371 May 8, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    what this blog is saying is true men do take life partners because of good physique but they also consider things like do the women have good standards, what their values are, and whether they will be able to live with them or not, so being good looking and being intelligent only does not guarantee a long lasting relationship, if you are not able to connect with each other. For instance ,we do have beautiful and intelligent women who are single parents today because they had to go through divorce. I believe that a life partner is someone who you can relate to and will be able to spend the rest of your life with.

  3. Kagiso May 8, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    The misconception when it comes to love is that most people think that it is correlated to a person`s physical appearance and whether our social circle accepts a particular person.With guys the first thing which plays a significant role when choosing a partner is the person`s physical appearance,for example her body built,her smile,her eyes or even her skin complexion;while on the other hand with girls if her friends don`t approve of the guy they may consider exploring other options even if they love that person.
    According to my perspective love is a spontaneous feeling which enables you accept a person`s flaws with the understanding that nobody is perfect,so in essence love has no eyes,it knows no wealth,no beauty and knows no end.

  4. Martin(14103312) May 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Society has lead people into thinking men are simple creatures, but if you’re willing to look deeper, you’ll realize that this is not the case. “It takes less than 2 seconds for a man to decide whether or not a woman could be a possible partner”. Evolution has lead man to preferring women with better features(beautiful, curvy, etc) because these were signs of good health and strong genetic material, just as women preferred well built men as it was a sign of good genes and hunting(providing) capabilities, and we’re still using the very same tools (framing effect). Yes, looks do matter, they allow people to give each other the chance to get well acquainted. However, if there’s not chemistry(brought on by other factors “attributes”), the relationship won’t last.

  5. Nosizwe 14133858 May 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    I strongly agree with this article.From the males perspective when choosing a partner they don’t choose for the long term its all about what attracts them what they see on the outside in that particular time they don’t think for the future its all about the present moment. Whereas for females they think beyond the present moment .One may think that females operate by using a checklist before they go about choosing a partner because they know that it will have a huge impact on the offsprings.

  6. 14005302 May 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    This is a blog that would be enjoyed and found interesting by most people.
    After reading this blog it was interesting to see what both men and women searches for in a partner, or “mate”, as they say in the blog.

    One of the thing that really captured my attention was that the blog mentions how both men and women searches for appearances when it comes to finding a partner. But there is a difference: women are more likely to find fault with their own appearance and thus result to the appearance they are searching for.

    Although both seems to be search for intelligence and kindness in a partner, women also intend to be searching for potential in men. There is nothing wrong for women to be looking for potential, by the thing is about women that they have the idea of a list that just never stops. Where as men knows what they want and if they find it, they don’t bother looking further

    I really enjoyed this blog but would have wanted more information regarding this topic.

  7. Nicole Do Espirito Santo 14005388 May 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    In a sense this is very true. Love in practice is not the sincere unconditional love that it should be. People in general just have needs to satisfy. Finding a mate has kind of become like a buying a product in a shop. No one wants to hear what the product can’t do, but rather only what it can do.

  8. cebo sibiya(14230403) May 5, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    i could not agree more with the blog and in a true kind of way we all have that ideal thing in our minds of what the perfect mate or partner should like that, relationships these days are not like before where it was love besides if the other was poor or not, beautiful or not but in the end it was all for love. sadly these days we all want independent, intelligent and more importantly bread-winning spouses. truly speaking i wish things could like the olden days we were in it for love, but, sadly and unfortunately choosing a spouse these days is a money making scheme.

  9. Nkululeko (14141036) May 5, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    Basically men and women choose their partners based on appearance even though they won’t admit it. Most relationships start because a men sees a beautiful women and ask her out and the women will able the guy to be her partner just because of how attractive the guy is and this is the main reason why most relationship don’t last, people tend to choose partners based on appearance instead of attitude and how they feel towards them.

  10. Junaid (u14093040) May 5, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    I can only say that l do not fully agree with this article because a natural heart filled with love exist. There is more to relationships that just looks, money or intelligence. Speaking as a man, ofcourse looks matter but it’s not the only thing we see in women. I’m not sure how women see us but i’m hoping that is not the case because not all of us are rich.

  11. kabelo 14042917 May 5, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    I also agree with this blog because relationships this days are very surprising and different compared to the relationships in the past.These days when men choose the right women for themselves or partners ,the following things are considered;beauty,charming and a sexy women.As a man I would also do the same thing,and that is looking for charming woman who is hardworking and earns a lot of money.

  12. M.D.M Takalo (u14385369) May 5, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    I think all in all, the best relationships are the ones that are based on a person’s personalities,all in all the fact of a person’s capabilities or more so,are not more important because I’ve realized that there could be of the people of the same capabilities and if there are more people of the same capabilities it is clear you’ll never know who love o want. Just a friendly advice,intelligence, attractiveness,and “money” should come last if you are really looking forward to a man/woman you want to stay with for the rest of your life.

  13. Nyasha May 5, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    I strongly agree with the researchers. Most of men look for those attributes when they are looking for a partner. Those six attributes from the article contribute to the way you choose your partner.

  14. Nyasha May 5, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    I agree with the writer. Each and everyone has different way of choosing a partner.Most of the people look at those six attributes when they are looking for the partner.

  15. 14107822 May 5, 2014 at 2:05 am #

    This is so true! But there are nothing new about the information given in this blog. I am sure even the Neanderthal looked for a mate in the same way. The woman with the most beautiful legs appearing underneath her hide skirt , would draw the most attention . Equally the man with the most comfortable cave and most hunting trophies will win the hearts ! Even in arranged marriages , parents would use the same framing to choose a partner for their children . maybe it would be more interesting to learn more about the way people of the same gender choose a partner . What kind of framing do they use ? What are most important to them in a relationship ?
    So many views in life has changed . What does the modern woman in life seek ? Surely she can provide for herself ?The modern man might just use the framing , set for men , to choose his partner . A lady with ambition and a fat banking account .

  16. 14107822 May 5, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    ss

  17. SA NKOSI 14101875 May 5, 2014 at 12:55 am #

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    Oh! This is an amazing blog I really do agree with it because it’s telling us about the fact that is happening this days. The relationships that we have this days are not made by true love because both women and man they do not listen to their heart when they fall into relationships. Women will look what you are and what you have and men will look how attractive you are.
    This days if you are a woman and not attractive enough chances of getting partner are limited because TRUE LOVE this days does not exist and to men chances of getting a partner will be limited if you don’t have money and not intelligent enough.

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