Looks and status are still essential: Testing the mate preference priority model with the profile-based experimental paradigm

Jose C. Yong*, Yi Wen Tan, Norman P. Li, Andrea L. Meltzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective
Although the mate preference priority model (MPPM) has advanced our understanding of mate preferences, tests of the MPPM have relied on methods using text labels and thus lack ecological validity. We address this gap by testing the MPPM using J. M. Townsend's profile-based experimental paradigm, which utilizes profiles comprising photos of pre-rated models to manipulate physical attractiveness as well as costumes and descriptions to manipulate social status.

Method
Using Singaporean samples, we conducted two studies (Study 1 n = 431, Study 2 n = 964) where participants judged the short-term and long-term mating desirability of opposite-sex profiles varying systematically on physical attractiveness and social status. We also tested whether treating these attributes as ordinal or continuous variables would be more valid.

Results
Results showed broad support for evolutionary predictions of mate preferences and priorities while revealing an increased premium placed on social status in our sample. We also found that continuous operationalizations produced less inflated results.

Conclusions
The current research provides the first non-label, profile-based test of the MPPM, a well-powered replication of the profile-based paradigm, and an opportunity to observe the robustness and variations of mate preferences in a non-Western culture.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Personality
Early online date23 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2022

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