Human Mating Preferences

Human Mating Preferences


The process of mate selection is a crucial component of human society, as it serves as the foundation for reproduction, marriage, and the establishment of families. When men embark upon the journey of choosing a spouse, they often take into consideration specific criteria to determine the quality of a potential mate. This article aims to explore the factors that men consider when selecting a partner, with a particular emphasis on physical attractiveness and moral qualities.

The Significance of Physical Attractiveness and Reproductive Value

Physical attractiveness holds considerable importance for men when choosing a long-term partner or considering potential mates for short-term encounters. In terms of reproductive value, men tend to focus on external physical cues that offer insights into a woman's capacity to bear offspring.

Facial attractiveness is influenced by various factors, including facial adiposity, plump lips, a small chin, thin jaws, and high cheekbones. Research has shown that women possessing these facial features are generally perceived to have higher reproductive value. Additionally, body attractiveness is often associated with a slender waist, a low waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), firm breasts, and a healthy body mass index (BMI). Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial not only for attractiveness but also for avoiding potential health complications.

It is important to note that attractiveness can vary during different phases of a woman's menstrual cycle, impacting how she is perceived by others. These fluctuations are believed to be related to changes in hormonal levels. Furthermore, men tend to prioritize facial attractiveness when considering long-term partners, while body shape becomes more important in short-term encounters.

The Role of Moral Qualities and Co-nurturing Offspring

While physical attractiveness holds significance, men also value moral qualities in a potential partner. A woman's ability to manage a family and raise children is assessed based on her moral qualities and personality traits. Traits such as sexual loyalty, controllability, kindness, reliability, and congeniality are highly valued as they contribute to a warm and nurturing family environment.

Moral qualities play a significant role in establishing trust, maintaining relationship stability, and ensuring successful offspring nurturing. Men seek partners who exhibit these qualities, as they provide reassurance of a harmonious and supportive family life.

The Impact of Mating Value on Women's Behavior

Women, cognizant of the importance of mating value, adapt their behavior to align with men's preferences. They engage in various strategies to enhance their attractiveness and showcase their moral qualities.

Women often use makeup and invest in beauty products to enhance their physical attractiveness. This is particularly prominent during times of high competition for partners, as they endeavor to stand out from the crowd. Additionally, women engage in prosocial behaviors to demonstrate kindness and morality. These acts of kindness not only contribute to their perceived moral qualities but also increase their mating value.

The Negative Effects of Solely Focusing on Physical Attractiveness

In a previous article, we discussed the adverse effects of exclusively prioritizing physical attractiveness in women. In this subsequent segment, we will delve deeper into the stereotypes and devaluation that can arise from this narrow perspective. Moreover, we will explore the relationship between humanness, mating opportunities, and cultural backgrounds. By comprehending these dynamics, we can gain valuable insights into the intricate interplay of perceptions and opportunities for women across diverse cultural contexts.

The Devaluation of Women as Individuals

When women are solely judged based on their physical attractiveness and traditional roles as "good wives and mothers," it can lead to negative stereotypes and the devaluation of their humanity. These stereotypes contribute to increased aggression, a propensity for rape, and deception towards women. Furthermore, stereotypes associated with facial attractiveness can also foster perceptions that women experience less pain, which can further facilitate aggression. Understanding the impact of these stereotypes on women's mating opportunities is of paramount importance.

The Relationship to Aggression, Rape, and Deception

Research has confirmed that women's human uniqueness plays a significant role in their mating opportunities. Interestingly, this effect is observed in both male and female participants. Human uniqueness is acquired through cultivation and strongly influenced by cultural backgrounds. On the other hand, human nature represents an individual's inner desires, which occur irrespective of culture or background. Speculation regarding the relationship between humanness and mating opportunities is substantiated by experimental work, indicating that only women's human uniqueness affects their prospects for successful mating.

Study on Women's Perceived Mating Value

Research on women's perceived mating value reveals that both "beautiful" and "virtuous" women are rated higher in terms of mating opportunities compared to "sexually attractive" women. The perception that "beautiful" women have an advantage in attracting potential partners aligns with previous findings. Gender differences are observed, with female participants generally attributing higher mating opportunities, particularly to "virtuous" women. These differences may be attributed to in-group preference, where individuals tend to view members of their own group more favorably.

Common Negative Stereotyping and Prejudices

In the realm of mate selection, society must confront and challenge several negative stereotypes and prejudices that perpetuate biased views and hinder a holistic approach. Here are a few common stereotypes and prejudices that require particular attention:

1. Beauty as the Sole Criterion: One prevalent stereotype is the belief that physical attractiveness is the sole criterion for evaluating a potential partner. This reductionist perspective disregards the importance of moral qualities, diminishing the value of character, intellect, and emotional compatibility.

2. Superficial Beauty Standards: Society often promotes narrow and unrealistic beauty standards, which can lead to the marginalization and devaluation of individuals who do not conform to these standards. Challenging these standards is necessary to foster inclusivity and recognize the diverse forms of beauty that exist.

3. Gender Imbalances: Traditional gender roles and stereotypes can perpetuate biases in mate selection. Men are sometimes expected to prioritize physical attractiveness, while women face societal pressures to prioritize their appearance over other qualities. This perpetuates inequality and undermines the importance of character and moral virtues.

4. Cultural and Racial Biases: Society must confront biases that stem from cultural and racial prejudices in mate selection. Stereotypes based on ethnicity or cultural backgrounds can lead to unfair judgments and devaluation of potential partners. Recognizing and challenging these biases is essential for promoting inclusivity and equality.

5. Ageism and Age Stereotypes: Ageism, the discrimination or prejudice based on age, can influence mate selection. Stereotypes that associate older individuals with diminished desirability can hinder the recognition of their moral qualities and overall compatibility. Challenging ageist beliefs opens opportunities for meaningful connections across different age groups.
6. Socioeconomic Status: Society must challenge the prejudice that associates socioeconomic status with the worthiness of a potential partner. Judging individuals solely based on their financial standing perpetuates inequality and neglects the significance of personal qualities and compatibility in relationships.

6. Narrow Definitions of Masculinity and Femininity: Traditional gender norms often impose limited definitions of masculinity and femininity, dictating the expectations and preferences for partners. Challenging these stereotypes allows for a broader understanding and acceptance of diverse expressions of gender identity and roles in mate selection.

Associations with Human Uniqueness and Human Nature

Regarding humanness, both "beautiful" and "virtuous" women are deemed to possess higher levels of humanness compared to "sexually attractive" women.


In the process of mate selection, men consider a combination of physical attractiveness and moral qualities when evaluating potential partners. Physical attractiveness provides insights into a woman's reproductive value, while moral qualities contribute to the establishment of a nurturing family environment. It is important to note that women adapt their behavior to enhance their mating value, both through physical enhancements and prosocial behaviors.

Addressing negative stereotypes and prejudices requires collective effort and societal introspection. Promoting awareness, education, and inclusive dialogue can help challenge these biases and foster a more equitable and open-minded approach to mate selection. By valuing the diverse qualities that individuals possess, beyond physical appearance, we can create a more inclusive and fulfilling environment for all.

Understanding the intricate interplay between perceptions, opportunities, and cultural backgrounds provides valuable insights into the complexities of mate selection. By embracing a broader perspective, we can foster a society that values both physical attractiveness and moral qualities, creating a more equitable and fulfilling environment for all.

1. Can Sexual Appeal, Beauty, or Virtue Increase the Opportunity for a Woman to Be Selected as a Spouse? The Mediating Role of Human Uniqueness
2. Integrating sexual objectification with object versus person recognition: the sexualized-body-inversion hypothesis
3. Sexual strategies theory: an evolutionary perspective on human mating
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.