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    (Original post by peacenik)
    I wanted to do something very similar but found a few peoblems. Firstly our teacher told us the board (AQA) are clamping down on things on under 16's for ethical reasons. Also apparently there is very little research into it which you need for the intro and discussion.

    Now I'm doing one into whether men and women look for different characteristics in prospective partners. Finding it quite hard simply because I've never done psychology coursework before, wish we could do a practice or have access to quite a few past ones....though then there is the issue of plagerism. peacenik x
    Hi, hope this helps. It is the intro to my a2 coursework which looked at hidden evolutionary signals contained within Lonely Hearts Ads. This way it rules out alot of the ethical issues. We were looking to see if, as hypothesised, "Men will seek attractiveness in a potential mate and Women will seek Resources". If you find this of interest pm me and i will show you the rest (Its got a recommended A grade from my tutor but waiting to see moderators mark!) Anyway hope it helps!
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    (Original post by peacenik)
    I wanted to do something very similar but found a few peoblems. Firstly our teacher told us the board (AQA) are clamping down on things on under 16's for ethical reasons. Also apparently there is very little research into it which you need for the intro and discussion.

    Now I'm doing one into whether men and women look for different characteristics in prospective partners. Finding it quite hard simply because I've never done psychology coursework before, wish we could do a practice or have access to quite a few past ones....though then there is the issue of plagerism. peacenik x
    Hi, hope this helps. It is the intro to my a2 coursework which looked at hidden evolutionary signals contained within Lonely Hearts Ads. This way it rules out alot of the ethical issues. We were looking to see if, as hypothesised, "Men will seek attractiveness in a potential mate and Women will seek Resources". If you find this of interest pm me and i will show you the rest (Its got a recommended A grade from my tutor but waiting to see moderators mark!) Anyway hope it helps! I'll post it straight up after this message as its too long to include!
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    Page 2 of the Report
    INTRODUCTION
    “Enter the world of lonely hearts and take a trip back through your evolutionary past where the veneer of civilization is stripped away and men and women become slaves to their most basic instincts” (Dunbar 1995)
    Evolutionary psychology indicates that the characteristics, which people seek in mates, depend on their sex and whether they are interested in short-term or long-term mating.
    Darwin's (1871) theory of sexual selection was developed further by Trivers (1972) who argued that because of parental investment, the sex that invests greater resources in offspring will evolve to be the choosier sex in selecting a mate. In contrast, the sex that invests fewer resources in offspring will evolve to be more competitive with its own sex for access to the high-investing sex. Normally females are the limiting sex and invest more in their offspring than males. Because males tend to be in excess, they tend to develop ornaments for attracting females or engaging other males in contests.
    (“In some species the roles of the sexes may be reversed”, Goodenough et al 2001)
    Buss (1999) provides a clear description of why evolutionary psychologists have applied Trivers' theory of parental investment to human mating: "The differences between men and women in terms of the fitness costs of making a poor mate choice are profound. An ancestral man who made a poor choice when selecting a mate could have walked away without incurring much loss. An ancestral woman who made a poor choice when choosing a mate might risk becoming pregnant and perhaps having to raise the child alone, without help."
    Further research suggests that men have two possibilities, a choice between impregnating as many women as possible or putting all that extra energy into helping to raise his limited number of offspring with one woman. His decision maybe dependant upon genetical factors, - “A man has two possibilities for multiplying copies of his genes: He can either aim for quantity or quality of offspring. With quantity, a man can impregnate as many women as possible without staying around to help raise any of the children. With quality, a man can stay with one female partner and have fewer children, but he will be present during their upbringing” (VanLeuwen, 2001). Evolutionary theory tells us that resources should be important to women. It suggests that good fathers need to have the means to feed offspring as well as the willingness to stick around. In our evolutionary past, before resources meant a Rolex watch and a sports car, a well-heeled man was one with high status in a hunting tribe. High status males were often good hunters and likely to provide a steady supply of food.
    Research conducted by Professor Doug Kenrick at the University of Arizona seems to support this sexual dynamic. Kenrick has found that both sexes regard social skills as important, particularly a sense of humour. However, a good sense of humour has a different meaning for women than it does for men. However, why should such an intangible quality like social skills score highly with heterosexual women? Dunbar puts this down to the Scheherazade effect, a phrase coined by cognitive psychologist Geoffrey Miller. The Scheherazade effect refers to the possible tactics used by ancestral women to appeal to a mans conversational skills in order to keep them around.


    Page 3 of the report (Introduction cont…)

    "When women look for a sense of humour in a man, they're saying: 'show me what you've got'. But when a man looks for a sense of humour in a woman they're saying 'she laughs at my jokes, she must think I'm a great guy'."(Dunbar 1995)

    Attractiveness is a rough indicator of age, and in women age is a good indicator of fertility. After her late 20s, a woman's fertility steadily declines, and so does her value on the dating market. Men, according to the biological assumption, always prefer younger women, because they are likely to bear them more children. A recent study seems to contradict this theory. Dr George Fieldman, of the Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College showed images of women to about 200 men with an average age of 30. A picture of a 36-year old woman, who a separate group of men had found attractive, was shown to the men along with eight other photos of women aged 20 to 45 who had been rated as less attractive. Asked to choose one woman as a long-term partner, all three groups chose the beautiful woman regardless of what age they thought she was. "They are saying: 'I'd rather risk a relationship with an older woman who is not going to give me as many children but is very beautiful, than a woman who is younger and more fertile but whose children will be plainer," says Fieldman. The theory is based on the notion that a beautiful woman is more likely to bear beautiful offspring and that those offspring will be more successful than plainer offspring. "Female beauty has evolved through sexual selection. If you're beautiful then it's likely that you're also symmetrical," he adds. Symmetry is a difficult characteristic for genes to code for, leading many scientists to conclude that it is an indicator of good genes. Fieldman's research suggests that beauty is important to men on a deeper level than just a simple indicator of youth. However, Kenrick thinks that in this instance, men are being confused by the benefits of modern healthcare and beauty products. "My suspicion is that we respond to visual cues of attractiveness, not what you see on someone's birth certificate. Liz Hurley, for example, looks attractive because she's got all those cues [despite her age]," he explains. "In evolutionary history, by the time a woman got to be 45, she'd have had five children and various parasites. She wouldn't have looked like one of those Hollywood actresses," Kenrick adds. Studies have shown that men seem to prefer women with smooth skin and glossy hair features that seem to be associated with higher levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen. In our evolutionary past, these would also have been strong indicators of youth.
    Eagly & Wood (1999) suggested, “Women will seek a mate who has resources to support their parental efforts, whereas men will seek a mate for reasons different from wanting to be a parent. This establishes a difference in views toward mating for each gender because each will have their own expectations. Men are considered to be less concerned about the social status of their chosen mate, to which Eagly & Wood add, “Men who marry younger women have nothing to gain but a wife who will tend to meet his needs. When a woman marries a man, she will gain social identity, power, economic support, and emotional support”.




    Page 4 of the report (Introduction cont…)
    Howard, Blumstein & Schwartz (1987), found that men would also seek a mate who has the qualities of being nurturing, a good cooker and the ability to perform domestic tasks.

    According to findings giving evolutionary explanations we are attracted to features that are linked to successful procreation and the safe rearing of children, and that such features are universally perceived as physically attractive. If, however, we were all attracted only to those most physically attractive, it would be very difficult to find a mate.

    Preferences by males and females are revealed when looking at Lonely Hearts Advertisements. As male lonely hearts age, they appear to seek women who are increasingly younger than they are. This reflects their increasing value on the dating market due to their increasing resources, or wealth. On average, female lonely hearts prefer a man five years older than them. Buss (1989) lends support from his study which surveyed over 10 000 people in 37 countries and found that men generally preferred women who were younger than they were and women preferred older men.
    Professor Robin Dunbar of Liverpool University spent much of the latter half of the 1990s studying the hidden evolutionary signals contained in Lonely Hearts advertisements. Using data from the wording of lonely-hearts advertisements, he reported that women offered cues of physical attractiveness and made higher specific demands for male financial and occupational status. Similarly, men tended to offer cues of wealth and status and make demands for female physical attractiveness.
    Dunbar stated that men and women had evolved these preferences over millions of years of evolution. These crucial qualities enhanced the fitness of children. “Attractiveness & youth are thought to be the most important characteristics which a male would seek as this would signify fertility (an extra reassurance that their offspring would possess good healthy genes).Pregnancy and breast-feeding place great stress on a mother, so females make the biggest investment in reproduction. This big parental investment also explains why women seek males who are willing to stick around and provide for children”. Thus the reason why women are choosier about their partners than men are, with the 20 years old age bracket women being the choosiest of all. Dunbar’s findings also lend support to the Evolutionary Theories of Attraction, as previously discussed along with numerous studies researching hidden evolutionary signals contained within Lonely Hearts Advertisements, “The frank vocabulary of Lonely Hearts Ads illuminates the rules of mating in the most unambiguous way. For this very - reason, lonely hearts may give us a unique insight into the reasons for our sexual preference preferences that have been moulded by millions of years of natural selection lending welcomed support to the Evolutionary Theories of Attraction” (Dunbar (1995). Dunbar also found that males valued commitment very highly as well as attractiveness when considering the required characteristics in a potential partner. The reason why males should value commitment so highly is less clear. Dunbar thinks he has the answer: “In males I think commitment is linked to paternity certainty,” he explains. “If a male is to spread his genes, he needs to know that the children being born are his and not those of a rival.”
    Like everyone else, lonely hearts raise or lower their standards according to their own circumstances. Young men have low expectations because they do not have much wealth to offer. Older women are similarly undemanding, because of their reduced attractiveness.
    The lonely hearts columns seem to amplify one important tactic of the mating game: lying. One of the most common complaints made by people responding to advertisements is that the advertiser was nothing like their description in the ad.
    Page 5 of the report (Introduction cont…)
    Various other studies such as, Cameron et al (1977) found men tended to stress status (e.g. university educated, professional male’) when advertising for a partner, whereas women tended to emphasize their physical appearance (e.g. blonde, slim and athletic).

    Harrison & Saaed (1977) found that requests for suitable partners also followed this predictable pattern, women frequently requesting partners who could offer financial security, sincerity & commitment. Men, on the other hand, tended to ask for attractive partners who were younger than they are. A study by Cameron et al (1977) also supported these findings.

    Cross-cultural research concerning male and female gender roles suggests that male & female preferences are similar all over the world & are therefore inherited rather than passed on by social convention.
    Singh ‘93– “The preferred waist to hip ratio, across cultures, is 0.7”.

    Duck (1999) in an overview of research in this area, found personal advertisers when setting
    up meetings with strangers, conformed to current cultural beliefs about suitable partners, i.e.: These features are related to age, physical attractiveness & wealth. They are predictable from the traditional cultural norms concerning male and female gender roles. Cross-cultural research suggests that male & female preferences are similar all over the world & are therefore inherited rather than passed on by social convention.
    “It is likely that both evolutionary pressure & social influences determine attraction & suitability in any cultural group".
    Formulation of aims
    This study is adapted from a study conducted by Robin Dunbar. Our investigation was conducted to assess whether the rules of the Evolutionary Theory of Attraction remained the same or if in our modern world we had evolved to have different preferences. Nowadays, women are encouraged, and appear to be evolving to want to, be able to financially and emotionally support themselves and to be treated and treat men as equals. With this in mind, would a male’s resourcefulness still be considered as vitally important when considering the importance of certain characteristics, which they would require, in a potential partner? Or maybe physical attractive qualities are considered as more of a priority? Perhaps the prioritizing given to the characteristics which are required in a potential mate have changed in our modern man as well as our modern woman, e.g. Men may consider ‘resourcefulness’ in a female mate to be of more importance than ‘attractiveness’. This could be the case in situations where the man adopts the role of the ‘homemaker’ and the woman adopts the role of the ‘bread winner’.
    Due to previous research, we do still expect women to advertise their attractiveness, signifying fertility and to seek status, signifying resources (i.e.; university student, businessman, and millionaire). We would also still expect men to advertise their status and to be more drawn to the Lonely Hearts Ads which state that the woman is attractive or uses vocabulary which can be put into the attractiveness category (i.e.; stunning, youthful, curvaceous).


    Page 6 of the report (Introduction cont…)

    Statement of alternative hypothesis (One tailed directional, as specific direction of results given, based on previous research)

    “More men than women will seek ‘attractiveness’ from Lonely Hearts Advertisements”

    Statement of Null Hypothesis

    Any significant difference between men and women seeking ‘attractiveness’ from Lonely Hearts Advertisements will be due to random factors or chance alone.


    The implications of setting a 0.05 level of significance to test the above hypotheses is that even in the event of the results being found to be statistically significant we have to accept that there is a 1: 20 probability that the results occurred by chance or random factor.
 
 
 
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