Mate selection criteria. A pilot study

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134 Scopus citations


Open-ended questions were used to investigate mate selection criteria among male and female medical students (n = 40). Striking sex differences emerged in this sample's preferences concerning spouses' relative earning power and occupational status, partners' physical attractiveness, and the marital division of labor. The results supported the hypotheses: Increasing socioeconomic status (SES) of women does not eliminate and may not even reduce traditional sex differences in mate selection criteria and marital goals. Increasing the SES of women tends to increase their socioeconomic standards for mates, thereby reducing their pool of acceptable partners; increasing men's SES tends to enlarge their pool of available acceptable partners. Based on these interviews and pertinent literature, closed-ended questions were developed and administered to female (n = 212) and male (n = 170) undergraduates. Highly significant sex differences emerged in this sample; these sex differences mirrored those found among the medical students. The methodological implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-253
Number of pages13
JournalEthology and Sociobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989


  • Division of labor
  • Hypergyny
  • Mate selection
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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