What quality is most important for us to see in a partner
Man and woman
What do we primarily pay attention to when looking for a potential partner? On his appearance? Intellectual abilities? Soul qualities? British scientists decided to find out and carried out the largest research in history of this kind. It was attended by almost 2500 subjects from the United States, Britain, Australia, Norway, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Participants were given a certain “budget” to evaluate potential partners and were asked to “collect” the ideal candidate by buying certain characteristics, including:
- physical attractiveness
- good financial prospects,
- sense of humor,
- desire to become a parent.
After observing how the participants spent the “budget”, the scientists found out what qualities the subjects considered necessary and which luxury – (they usually spent extra “money” on “luxury” if they received it).
The fact that people so value partners in kindness is logical: in the past, this quality was extremely important from a reproductive point of view
In general, all participants, regardless of gender and country of origin, considered kindness to be the main necessary quality of a potential partner: in the context of a limited budget, they were ready to spend almost a quarter on this characteristic.
And this is a new turn in this kind of research. Prior to this, psychologists have already studied preferences regarding the personality of a potential partner, his or her ability to earn money, physical attractiveness, body structure, and even sexual history, but have never made a distinction between necessary characteristics and “luxury.”
“The way we prioritize when choosing a potential partner remains poorly understood,” says Andrew Thomas, chief researcher at Swansea University. Based on the research algorithm, Thomas and his team expect to identify patterns of how people prioritize this issue.
Is evolution to blame?
In an attempt to explain the results, scientists turned to evolutionary psychology. The fact that people so value kindness in potential partners is logical: in the past, this quality was extremely important from a reproductive point of view. As previous studies have shown, we believe that a kind and empathic partner is able to maintain long-term relationships, be a good parent and share resources.
From the point of view of evolutionary psychology, it is also quite understandable why men are in second place with the external attractiveness of a partner – they are ready to spend up to 23% of their “budget” on this quality. Studies show that for men, the attractive face of a woman is unknowingly associated with her reproductive ability.
In addition, some believe that children of attractive partners, growing up, themselves become potentially desirable. So it is not surprising that women attribute beauty to the category of necessary qualities.
What do women want
Another criterion for which women are willing to spend a significant part of the “budget” is financial prospects: they attribute this feature to the category of necessary, while men consider it to be “luxury”.
In the book “Why We Love”, the anthropologist Helen Fisher gives this explanation (rooted in evolutionary psychology): during a long and difficult period of bearing and giving birth to a woman, a woman needs a reliable earner, and men who have achieved financial stability have more chances to become so. In addition, Fisher recalls that when people mastered the upright skill (about 3.5 million years ago), mothers stopped carrying children on their backs and took them in their arms. Hands were now busy, collecting food did not work, and needed a partner breadwinner.
In addition to inter-gender, the study revealed a number of cultural differences. Unlike women from the East, Western women value the potential desire of a partner to have children more.
Thomas explains that in connection with the widespread use of contraception in Western countries, creating a family there is a conscious choice, as opposed to how it happens in the East. It is clear that those who want to have children are looking for partners with similar desires.
Be that as it may, these differences are rather insignificant: we all, men and women all over the world, want the plus or minus of the same thing – a good partner who can take care of us.
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