Does a woman’s attractiveness level change what she prioritizes in a man?


When looking for a long-term partner, it seems like women with very attractive bodies prefer men with money while women with less attractive bodies prefer good-looking men:

Mate preferences are condition dependent (i.e., females in better biological condition might be more demanding with respect to fitness-relevant male traits). Such traits usually indicate male biological quality or ability to secure resources that could be invested in offspring. Here we study female preferences for male resources, commitment, attractiveness, good sense of humor, and sensuality (when seeking both long-term and short-term partners) in relation to women’s morphological traits such as height, weight, waist and hip girth, body mass index (BMI), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). We show that preferences for resources and attractiveness do indeed depend on women’s phenotype. Women with relatively lower WHR and BMI more strongly prefer resources in a potential long-term partner than those with higher WHR and BMI. However, when controlling for age, place of residence, and whether they have had children, it is WHR (but not BMI) that influences female preference for resources and attractiveness. Women with higher WHR (those who, according to many studies, are considered as less attractive) are more prone to prefer physical attractiveness in a potential long-term partner. Furthermore, despite commitment having received the highest score in a long-term context, the preference for this trait in a potential partner was not related to women’s body morphology. We suggest evolutionary and proximate explanations for such condition-dependent preferences.

Source: “Women’s body morphology and preferences for sexual partners’ characteristics” from “Evolution and Human Behavior”, Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 19-25 (January 2008)

On the other hand here’s coverage of another study (“Attractive Women Want it All: Good Genes, Economic Investment, Parenting Proclivities and Emotional Commitment”) that says attractive women want everything:

Buss and Todd Shackelford, psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University, found women ideally want partners who have all the characteristics they desire, but they will calibrate their standards based on their own desirability.

“When reviewing the qualities they desire in romantic partners, women gauge what they can get based on what they got,” Buss said. “And women who are considered physically attractive maintain high standards for prospective partners across a variety of characteristics.”

…Although women’s selectivity across categories reflected how attractive they appeared to other people, the researchers found the characteristics men desired in a partner did not vary based on their own physical attractiveness.


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