Gender differences in mate preference among law students: Divergence and convergence of criteria

John Marshall Townsend, Laurence W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We examined six hypotheses derived from evolutionary theory regarding sex differences in mate-selection criteria. The subjects were 160 law students who viewed color photographs of live models that were paired with different status cues such as costume variation and descriptions of income and occupation. A multivariate analysis of variance and regression analyses revealed highly significant sex differences in the following responses: Reported willingness to engage in unqualified sexual relations; reported willingness to have sexual relations with stimulus persons as compared with the willingness to engage in higher investment relationships such as dating and marriage; the effects of stimulus persons' status and physical attractiveness in determining thresholds of initial acceptability; and tradeoffs, that is the ability of high physical attractiveness to compensate for low status, and of high status to compensate for low physical attractiveness. Law students also responded to nine statements concerning prospective spouses' relative income, occupational prestige, and physical attractiveness. These responses exhibited sex differences consistent with those found in the experimental manipulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-528
Number of pages22
JournalThe Journal of psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Education
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)

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