Women go for ‘road-tested’ mates

From ABC Health and Wellbeing, 24 June 2014:

A little experience goes a long way towards making a man more desirable to the opposite sex, Australian researchers have found.

Women are more likely to rate a man desirable if he has had one or two partners than if he has had no relationship experience, according to a study published in the journal Human Nature.

“Our results suggest that women do not always make mate choices independent of one another [and] there appears to be a significant desirability advantage for men who have been previously selected as a romantic partner,” say the authors.

However men who have played the field a little too enthusiastically lose out in the desirability stakes, with the study showing those who had been with five partners in a four-year period were less desirable than those who had been with fewer.

Lead author Ryan Anderson, a PhD candidate at James Cook University, says ‘mate copying’ is a well-established practice in the rest of the animal kingdom, but there has been little research on what role it plays in human mate choice.

While men generally go for mates based on physical attributes that might indicate whether a woman is more genetically robust — such as symmetry, beauty, and good child-bearing hips — women’s definition of desirability is a little less obvious to the eye.

“A man seeking a mate can get a lot of the information he needs just by observing his potential mate, but females aren’t as visually orientated,” Anderson says.

“Females are not as superficial as males — they seek things more like parenting ability, is he going to make a good parent, is my mate going to be a good mate, is he going to be a good partner, is he going to commit to me — so these things can’t really be easily assessed in a visual observation.”

Instead, women look for a mate who has been road-tested by other women, as an indicator that he is more likely to have met these criteria. Read more.

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