Amy Noone

Human Mating Strategies:
Education Levels and Long-term Relationships


 
 
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Abstract
This experiment was designed to test the hypothesis women in their final year of college will be less likely to choose a long-term mate who is financially secure versus their freshman counterparts who will emphasize financial security.  It also tested the hypothesis males in both their first and final year would select a long-term mate who they found physically attractive.  These hypotheses were tested by having male and female subjects in both the freshman and senior classes view two pictures.  The subjects were asked to rate how willing they would be to engage in a long-term relationship with the person based solely on appearance and job description.  Hypothesis one was not supported by the data. Hypothesis two, however, did show there was a relationship between long-term mate selection and physical attractiveness for males.  This data helps to show that there are specific traits that men and women search for in long-term mates.  Education levels, however, have little to no effect on the long-term mate selection process.

Method

Participants
The participants were twenty six(twelve females, fourteen males)freshman college students who received extra credit toward their general psychology course for participating in the study, and thirty(fifteen male, sixteen female)senior college students whose participation in the study was completely voluntary.  All fifty seven participants attend a private, catholic college in the northern part of New England.  The mean age of the participants was twenty years old(M=19.66).

Materials
 Pictures of both males and females from a college yearbook were used.  In addition, a survey was administered that asked students to rate the pictures on a scale of one to five for physical attractiveness.  The person in the picture was selected as attractive only if 77% of the people rating the picture scored it as either a four or five with the lower extreme of one eliminated.  On the other hand, the unattractive photographs were selected only if 65% of the people rating the picture scored it as either a one or two with the highest extreme of five eliminated.  Once the pictures were rated according to attractiveness, captions were placed below each picture with a brief job description of the person shown.

Procedure
Once the pictures had been scored for attractiveness by the experimental psychology class using the criteria mentioned above, the second half of the research began.  Each picture was paired up with a short biography of the personís job and some future goals.  Freshman and seniors were given a copy of the pictures and biographies, as well as, instructions on what they were to do with the pictures.  The participants were asked to look at the pictures and read the captions underneath.  Based solely on the picture and the caption, each participant was asked to rate their willingness to engage in a long-term relationship with the person.  The ratings were based on a five point scale, one being no interest at all, and five being very interested.  All the captions were made up and had no direct correlation with the photographs that they were paired with.
At the start of the research each participant did in fact fill out an informed consent sheet explaining what they would have to do to be involved with this particular experiment.  Upon completion of the project a debriefing form was given out to each participant explaining the purpose of the study they had taken part in.  The subjects were informed they could drop out at any point during the experiment for any reason at all.

Results
    The twenty eight female participants involved in the study were asked to rank their willingness to engage in a long-term relationship with both of the males presented in the pictures.  Picture one contained an unattractive male with good financial prospects.  Picture two contained an attractive male with poor financial prospects. Education level had no direct affect on a femaleís choice to choose a financially secure long-term mate.  This relationship was analyzed using a 2(picture 1&2)X2(seniors&freshmen) analysis of variance(ANOVA), which indicated that there was no significant differences among the two grade levels, F(1,55)=.432, p>.05.

    The twenty nine male subjects involved in the study were also asked to rank their willingness to engage in a long-term relationship with both of the females presented in the pictures.  Picture one contained a physically attractive female with poor financial prospects.  Picture two contained an unattractive female with good financial prospects.  It was assumed that regardless of the personís year of graduation, males would consistently choose a long-term mate that was physically attractive.  The results from this study did in fact support that hypothesis.  This relationship was also analyzed using a 2(picture1&2)X2(seniors&freshmen) analysis of variance(ANOVA), which indicated that there were significant differences between the first picture(attractive female) and the second picture(unattractive female), F(1,57)=.052, p<.05.

    Although this study was not looking at overall gender differences the results showed that there was a relationship between males and females in regards to the first picture.  Picture one for both the males and females consisted of the person who was more physically attractive with poor financial prospects.  This relationship was analyzed using a 2(males&females)X2(freshman&seniors) analysis of variance(ANOVA), the results indicate that differences in gender are approaching significance, F(1,56)=3.502, p>.05.

E-mail all questions to anoone@anselm.edu

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