A great NYT article 2 go with our recent

Avatar for biancamami
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
A great NYT article 2 go with our recent
24
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 12:50pm
'seeking a husband with the same level of education' debate below. I think this new report shows how its possible that MANY people seek mates in exactly the way that "peteynjoeysmom" described...and was heavily criticized for....food for thought:

"As a new report demonstrates with the no-nonsense zing of the phrase "I do," humans often seek in a spouse the sort of person they know best: themselves. Beautiful people want beautiful partners. The well-heeled covet Prada-clad companions. Those who are devoted to kith, kids and unabridged Passover seders expect no less from the person who adorably snores beside them each night.

And while the notion that like-seeks-like may not surprise anybody who has scanned the newspaper wedding announcements and wondered if a few of the couples weren't inadvertently committing incest, the new results contradict some important claims about male-female differences in mating strategies that lately have emanated from the niche of neo-Darwinism called evolutionary psychology.

According to one widely touted premise of the field, men are comparatively more concerned with the physical appearance of their partners, while women tend to fixate on the relative wealth and ambitiousness of their suitors. This disparity in mate-choice modules, the story goes, can result in a rich if homely financier in Scarsdale married to the gorgeous waitress from the Bronx: he has the material resources that she is evolutionarily predisposed to desire, while she gives evidence, through her cinched waist, symmetric cheekbones and fetching décolletage, of youthful fecundity and genetic quality.

Yet the new report, by Dr. Stephen T. Emlen, a professor in the department of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell, and his former student Dr. Peter M. Buston, now at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California at Santa Barbara, offers scant support for the chasmic divide between the romantic algorithms of men and women.

Instead, in analyzing the results of a questionnaire about who wants what in a long-term relationship, the researchers found that the men who were most likely to seek beauty in a woman were not the trust-fund sons, but those men who considered themselves quite handsome; while men who rated themselves as wealthy and ambitious were much likelier to focus on the wealth and status of a prospective mate than on her physical charms.

Similarly, women who viewed themselves as attractive ranked the toothsomeness of a potential husband above the particulars of his stock portfolio; while women from privileged backgrounds wanted a groom who knew the purpose and position of all four forks in a formal table setting.

The same "Why not make more of me?" principle held for each of the 10 traits that were listed on the survey, including devotedness, faithfulness, strength of family bonds, health, desire for children and qualities for raising children. The biggest predictor of whether a person rated the characteristic low or high on a partner-picking scale depended above all on where the respondent placed himself or herself on the same gradient from one to nine.

The findings, which are to be published this month in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were based on a survey of 978 residents of Ithaca, aged 18 to 24, most of them students, and all, for reasons of analytic simplicity, declared heterosexuals.

"People seem to be looking for soul mates on many levels, and that makes adaptive sense," said Dr. Emlen in a telephone interview. "Peter and I are evolutionary biologists, so we're both interested in why people would have rules that essentially say, seek someone who is like yourself on many of the things you value. Well, if you do, you'll end up with a compatible mate, and less conflict in the relationship, and a better chance of a long-term bond and successful child rearing."

In a species like Homo sapiens, where babies take a decade or longer to rear, the relative strength of a pair bond can spell the difference between dynasties that linger and a stint on Jerry Springer.

When asked why they hadn't included salient characteristics like intelligence, Dr. Emlen replied that they wanted to keep the survey streamlined and to focus on traits that others have seen as relevant to a person's putative "reproductive potential." In any event, he added, Ivy League students would sooner put themselves on the Lizzie Borden end of the family-ties scale than to self-assess their intelligence as, oh, a five or six.

Dr. Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Liverpool, calls it "a good study with good results," although he quarrels with some of their interpretations and says that the authors overlook the differences between what people may truly want in a mate — the ideal — and what they realize they will have to settle for.

Dr. David M. Buss, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas famed for his studies of human mate choices of more than 10,000 people in 37 cultures worldwide, said by e-mail of the new report, "The authors present many things that are new, and many things that are true; unfortunately, the things that are true are not new; and the things that are new are not true." As Dr. Buss sees it, the idea that "likes attract" is familiar fare, which he discusses at length in his 1994 book, "The Evolution of Desire."

Despite the general tendency for people to seek mates with whom they share many characteristics, Dr. Buss added, he and others have shown significant differences in the relative value that men and women place on a mate's appearance and financial resources. "The authors choose not to analyze their data for sex differences in mate preferences," he said, adding that if such differences had been explored, "you can bet that they would be found in their data, just as they have in dozens of studies conducted worldwide."

Dr. Emlen replied that, yes, Dr. Buss and others had talked about likes attracting likes, but they nonetheless had highlighted the sex differences in mate preference over the concordances, a perspective made clear by the titles of the second and third chapters in

Dr. Buss's book: "What Women Want" and "Men Want Something Else."

By contrast, Dr. Emlen said, the new paper emphasizes similarities: between one's self-perception and one's preferences in a long-term partner, and between men and women in their reliance on the mirror-image method of mate mapping. And this shift in emphasis, he said, "is very new."

As for analyzing their data with sex differences in mind, Dr. Buston said in a telephone interview that, yes, there were minor discrepancies based on sex, and, yes, pretty women were a bit more likely to be interested in a man's money than a handsome man was in a woman's money; and the well-to-do young men were slightly more concerned over a potential mate's appearance than the financially endowed women.

"But these effects were very weak compared to the likelihood of women who score themselves highly in physical appearance choosing males with the same," said Dr. Buston, "and for both men and women with lots of resources to choose mates with resources."

To give a sense of the strength of the likes-attract rule, the authors said that, while only 5 percent of the variation in women's mate-preference scores for wealth, status and family commitment (traits assumed to be indicators of a man's mate quality) could be explained by the women's perception of their physical appeal and sexual fidelity (the items correspondingly thought to signify a woman's reproductive value) more than 35 percent of the variation could be attributed to how the women rated themselves for wealth, status and family commitment.

How replicable the new results are, and whether they will hold up in studies of other cultures remains unknown. The authors of the paper are careful to stress in the title of the paper that they are talking about mate preferences "in Western society." Tastes and needs may be very different in polygamous cultures, said Dr. Buston, where the ideals of a well-harmonized "pair bond" don't quite apply.

"At the end of the day, humans are very complex creatures," Dr. Dunbar said. "Nonhuman primates are bad enough, but people are even worse."

As for affairs of the heart, who knows what lies on the other side of the Looking Glass?"

Ana

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Avatar for outside_the_box_mom
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 2:08pm
Ok, I'll bite. (Strapping on the milkbones.)

I didn't choose my husband because of his earning potential or his education or anything like that. My reasons are deeply private.

What bothered me about P&Js post was that she would turn down a man even if he met all of her qualifications simply for not having a "formal" education. (And as we all know, you don't *need* a degree to be "educated.") I would have choosen my husband even if he didn't have his education because he would still be the same person *inside.*

I would hate to think that my DH would have blown me off simply because I don't have an Ivy degree and that I'm not a hard-driving corporate executive the way he is. Should I divorce him because he doesn't run?

outside_the_box_mom

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 2:24pm
I think you should choose a mate based on whatever "deeply private" reasons are important to you.

Hey, my brother married a woman 14.5 years older with four children from two different men who had never even had enough money to have a checking account. Not only is she quite poor, she did not go to college and she's not a "babe." But my SIL and my brother are true soul mates - they are both total eco-nuts and throw backs to the 60s. Despite age, educational and life experience differences, they got together, and are good together, because they are very compatible on the inside.

For DH and I, neither of us would have gotten to the inside if the other hadn't met our *superficial* requirements. Not only am I a snob, I guess, I'm also superficial. I wanted to marry a handsome, well-formally-educated man. That's part of the package for me, and the life I wanted. Of course I have spiritual and personal reasons for bonding with my DH too, but these superficial compatibilities were important to both of us (but not to my bro or SIL).

See my point? Neither you or DH cared about formal education (and probably lots of other things important to me and DH), so you are compatible.

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Avatar for biancamami
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Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 2:31pm
"My reasons are deeply private"

I think everyone's are...and deeply personal. But those deeply private and personal reasons often fall into a very predictable pattern of how people choose mates. Maybe its not all conscious either...or maybe some people are more self aware of HOW they choose their mates.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other (to have a 'list' or not) but I think people are naturally attracted to like individuals whether they are aware of it or not. Voicing such a preference is seen as "snobby" or "elitist" and yet I bet that many of those same people are very much closed to certain kinds of men. I don't think all of us are 100% open when it comes to choosing life partners . Because to arrive at the point where you know how someone is "inside" you must cross a certain line of intimacy and if we are honest with ourselves...can any man cross that threshold? Could a man from a different religion? A man of a different race? An immigrant who speaks poor English but is otherwise kind and intelligent? A man with a disability? A man with poor hygiene? etc. etc.

Of course, there are people who have a higher level of openness than others when choosing mates. Does that make them better people? I'm not so sure. I know I'm not patting myself on the back for marrying someone of a different race...and I don't condemn my friends who say they would NEVER ever be attracted to a man outside their racial group. The act of choosing a mate is too "deeply private" like you said to judge how another person goes about it and condeming it as "snobbery"

Ana
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 7:33am
I think you just have to be able to come to terms with the idea that you were probably blown off by men looking for a highly educated and driven woman. And your husband probably was blown off by women looking for a more physically fit man. Among other things. Really, the "probably" in those sentences is just gratuitous. No probably about it.

In fact, would he have chosen you if you had no education? Wasn't he a womanizer? Those sorts usually can find no shortage of attractive, failry young and nubile, though uneducated, women, with few self sufficiency prospects, willing to do just about anything for a high earning corpoarate exec, even one in poor physical condition.

Avatar for outside_the_box_mom
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 7:44am
Dear, dear, dear. So nasty today, and so early in the morning, too.

Remember when you said you were the hockey "all-star"? Of course, that made me snort coffee right through my nose. No, the only word for you is "goon." I'm sorry, but you add nothing to on-ice time except a few cheap shots. And as we all know, goons eventually wash out.

outside_the_box_mom

Avatar for taylormomma
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Registered: 03-23-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 7:49am
Sounds like someone needs a hug!
Avatar for 1969jets
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 8:00am
Did Ivillage ever add that vomit icon?

Jenna

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 8:07am
That was an all-time low, as well as rude and disgusting. You truly should be ashamed of yourself for spewing such utter filth. I think you should consider taking a break from this board. This type of crap adds nothing to the "DEBATE" at hand.

YUCK. I'm with Jenna. Where is that VOMIT icon when you need it?????

Eileen

Avatar for laurenmom2boys
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 8:25am
LOL! Looks like you need to add someone to your "ignore posts" list. Unless of course you want to keep reading her posts for the entertainment value.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 10:16am
I'm right though, aren't I. Its you thats insecure, not anyone else that snobby. If you weren't trying to toute moral superiority over someone else, by shrouding your criteria in a thin veil of "deeply personal resaons" and then using bad logic to try and show how you or your husband would never use one particular criteria...even though, by all that can be known here, he probably did exactly that...I mean. Would he have married you if you didn't have your education?

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