Evolutionary psychology accounts for one possible explanation of what men look for in women. The theory claims that men are not as reliant on their mate as women are on men therefore men are not as strongly oriented as women to spending their entire lives with only one mate, thus the woman’s desire to have one mate to help raise her children pressures males to be monogamous. However if men do not want monogamy, it may result in them settling for a lower quality of woman since the high quality women choose their mate based on his commitment to monogamy.
But, mutual selection occurs in marriages, so the man can choose his mate, just as the woman chooses him, and often his criterion is based on very different qualities than the woman’s. Evolutionary psychology offers one view about male psychology. Not all psychologists agree that this theory offers a complete explanation of “what men want,” but some find the logic attractive. This essay will be based on an evolutionary account of what men like about women and why. However in order to gain a broader understanding different standpoints will be considered when evolutionary psychology fails to give a conclusive account.
The main factors that will firstly be discussed are honest signals, which are those that men observe as giving them better reproductive potential such as physical attractiveness, youthful characteristics such as neotenous faces and small feet, feature symmetry, body shape and breasts. Finally other psychological factors such as personality and intelligence will be discussed. The saying claims that ‘beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder’, however there have been certain standards of female physical attractiveness that have become widely accepted.
These standards are indicators of health and according to evolutionary theory give men clues about the reproductive capability of the woman. Without these standards of beauty, a man would have a difficult time discriminating a healthy woman who would produce healthy children from a woman of lesser health. Features of physical appearance such as full lips, clear smooth skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair and good muscle tone were all indications to our evolutionary ancestors of a healthy woman.
Evidence of physical attractiveness as an important attribute to today’s men comes from the content analysis of lonely-hearts advertisements. Heterosexual men’s advertisements for women have been shown in 43% of adverts to place strong emphasis on physical attractiveness with cues such as ‘attractive’, ‘cute’, ‘fit’ and ‘slender’ being used. However less emphasis has been placed on other trait categories such as status/wealth, which in comparison has been shown to be of importance to women (Buss and Barnes 1986, Buss 1987).
However Dardes and Koski (1988) claim that results are derived from biased atypical sample as it may be the case that only certain personality types are prepared to advertise who may not have had initial luck in relationships, thus placing adverts with biased choice preferences towards traits which were lacking in previous relations such as physical attractiveness. However results cannot be discarded as cross-cultural studies have also shown this consistency of males mate choice preference being strongly driven by physical attractiveness.
These studies were carried out by Buss and his colleagues to determine whether human mate choice showed a consistent pattern over the world. In terms of male mate choice Buss et al (1989) found that after interviewing over ten thousand people in thirty seven different cultures, male mate choice was driven by ‘physically attractive, young and sexually loyal wives who will remain faithful to them until death’. This analysis is therefore gives a reliable results as it represents a broad population. According to evolutionary psychology, ancestral men evolved ways to sense how well woman might reproduce offspring (Buss, 1994).