The real difference between how men and women choose their partners

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:

“Seven out of 10 people who know this person think that this person is kind.”
[positive frame]
“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.

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

98 thoughts on “The real difference between how men and women choose their partners”

  1. It’s so interesting seeing that both men and women have different qualities they looking for in they partners,but i don’t fully agree with the point than women look for wealth in men because women have a loving heart,and i 100% agree with the fact that men go for looks in women,and that is due to men having loving eyes not hearts.

  2. Many human behavioral traits can be attributed to the evolutionary development of human psychology. Human physiology and evolutionary physiology have worked to identify physical adaptations of the body in the same manner emotional and cognitive adaptations can represent human psychological nature. This implies that they are lingering primal characteristics that form part of our thinking processes. In light of this, I agree that it can be argued that how we select a partner is predetermined by how our species interacted with each other to preserve favorable traits through their offspring.

  3. not 100% true about the ladies, for example some families choose for the girl who to date…like finances,race,material etc. as for guys 100% correct as they will even go for older women ,as long as these women are possessing the qualities messioned(pretty face & body, intelligence ,kindness etc).not 100% true about the ladies, for example some families choose for the girl who to date…like finances,race,material etc. as for guys 100% correct as they will even go for older women ,as long as these women are possessing the qualities messioned(pretty face & body, intelligence ,kindness etc).

  4. As I was reading this blog I get the impression that society are choosing partners according to what each of them can offer one another. whether its the outer looks for men, or financial security for woman. in both cases, today’s society are confused what the word partner means. love should always be the most important factor.The rest can follow. without love in a romantic relationship it is nothing more the a business deal between two people.

    Ashley Sizer u14010039

  5. This is a very interesting topic that open our eyes as youth choose the right partners.This is a guide that in a way help us to be more wise when coming to choose partners. choosing the right partner is beneficial , it will keep the relationship on going and it will be a solid relationship . You wouldn’t enjoy a relationship that you always argue, fight with you partner because of certain things that you both don’t agree with, but you shouldn’t chose a partner just because he has money or she is good looking you should also consider his/her lifestyle.

  6. This is rather alarming and needs to be changed. We have evolved as human beings, we should not be falling prey to such. These are merely advertisement methods and we should work on seeing things as they are and not how they are portrayed. I consider this a flaw, one cannot choose a partner only because one chooses to focus on either the positive or negative aspects of the person. We are sensible human beings, we need to learn to be analytical and choose a partner based on all information at hand like why these 3 individuals don’t consider this person to be kind instead of forming an uninformed conclusion. As humans we should not fall victim to advertisement methods on how we choose our partners. what happened to getting to know a person, actually giving a person the benefit of doubt? Let us not be statistic crazed individuals, we all know the saying ‘not everyone will like you’. So let us all rather not focus on what other people think of someone, let us rather get hands on experience and make our own hypothesis on how the person actually is, because let us be honest psychopaths always lure their victims with a smile or a popstical. So rather be wary and never let your guard down and trust your gut rather than trusting other peoples’ opinions.

  7. This study is true because women tend to look at the negatives factors from men and looking at whether that particular person will be to take care of them in the future unlike men who just look at things pleasing to the eye now like facial appearance and body structure, and not looking into the future to see if the relationship will be a success. Women tend to look for a partner who is responsible and whom they know that their future is secured and wont have to worry about anything.

  8. The fact that women tend to look at factors that will help ease their future is one of the main reasons why they tend to look at the negative attributes inorder to weigh options as to how their tomorrow will turn out if they are with that particular partner while on the other hand men tend to look at the present. They look for things like facial beauty and physical appearance and not thinking that some of these might change.

  9. People choose life long partners based on different factors, but i believe that even though we need all those factors or qualities in a partner we should also prepare ourselves for that person. why do we have to look for attributes that fit perfectly with our lives and forget about love. anyone can play the part of being a partner to someone,its not about finding a person with qualities we seek for because the worst part about upholding a standard no one can meet cos none of us are perfect is that you miss good godly people around you. so stop going around looking for people based on what you want and you might just find yourself someone amongst the people in your life that might make a good partner

  10. I aggree wit the article, men and women choose their partners according to different factors. Women are attracted to men who are independent and financially stable as they want to be assured that they will be well taken care of. Wherelse men are attracted to women according to their facial appearance and bodies. Over the years it has been learned that both species want partners who are kind, understanding and understanding. It was great reading the article because it relates to what is happening in our daily lives.

  11. Over time it has been observed that men are interested in the here and now and will be inclined to physical attractiveness while women will look and the person underneath the skin and we looking for a mate will look at the long term with that person. This is why we usually find that women find themselves asking to many questions before they decide to get into a relationship with a man, you find them already imagining what the children will look like, how they will live or what kind of parent the man will be and it is only the first date. This is the theory behind women struggling to find the “perfect” man where it would make sense to look at the chemistry between them. Men, on the other hand find difficulty in finding someone to settle down with because physically attractive women are not usually looking to settle down.

  12. The topic is quiet convincing because most people nowadays depend on material things and things they can see and touch while choosing a partner is a way too far from those factors. Choosing a partner can be very difficult as personality and maturity is the two factors which can put a strong bond between partners as those characteristics stated above may vanish due to various factors .e.g. involving in a car accident can change both appearance or financial state. Not all that glitters is gold but hopefully we know that “time tells” in a long run when one’s been through thick and thin then now we will truly see the original personality. Life is not predictable that is why it is advisable that we look more to life values than characteristics mentioned above because you never know what tomorrow brings

  13. u14034451

    It is not really surprising that there are certain standards that must be met when it comes to choosing partners in this 21st century. In the past, we used to talk about unconditional love but because of the intense changes in the world we are living in its all about having an “attractive body, attractive face, earning potential, ambition, kindness and intelligence.” If partners are to be chosen in such a way, then we need to question if true love still exists?

  14. I think love is important but meaning nothing if there is no life in relationship. That is the reason women looks for men with full wallets.
    Relationships of today are based on physical appearances, wealth and intelligence.
    Some people may be against religion and this may causes potential disorder to the relationship if partners have opposing views.

  15. This is a topic that has been discussed over and over again by people all over the world. One would think that the idea behind this matter has been worn out, but people seem to respond towards the topic quite positively.

    The thesis has been tested time and time again and thus there is real truth to it all, but why is it that some people (more specifically couples) tend to differ from this so called “framework” approach? What is the reason that some people choose partners that seem to be most unlikely according to the social norm; and can these reasons also be scientifically tested?

    This researcher has been done before, more than once, so why not take it further and unravel and the true mysteries of partner selection?

  16. After reading this article I can honestly say that I agree in terms of the research that was done when conducting the survey. I believe that the six listed qualities are, in this era, seen to be the most sought out for when it comes to choosing partners with good attributes. But something that I also believe may have an effect in the later stages of the relationship is their religious beliefs. Having a partner who shares the same beliefs is beneficial as one can see the type of family upbringing that is in store. Some people may be against religion and this may causes potential disorder to the relationship if partners have opposing views.

  17. I do agree with the article, based on the fact that the six listed attributes are the major requirements that men and women do take into consideration when looking for a mate. Even if they might look as an assumption, in fact they are basically the core features that men and women do follow. though to some people they might not be convinced enough by this attributes that the researchers have found playing a role in finding a mate, we can conclude by looking at our modern lifestyle, most people do follow these attributes

  18. Yes, relationships of today are based on physical appearances, wealth and intelligence. Who would really go for someone who is less attractive, who does not own anything or not even successful in life. It is always advisable to go for a best partner than going for someone you would actually regret being with.

  19. it is normal that a man can look the attractiveness of a woman in order to see if she can be a good partner or not, for a man it is not important to consider a pocket of that woman because we know that most of the time they are the ones responsible for taking care of the family, they are the breadwinners.for a woman it is much more important to see if a man can be able to do what he is responsible for like being a breadwinner. i think love is important but it means nothing if there is no life, that is the reason women looks for men with full wallets.

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