Commitment is the most desirable characteristic women look for in a potential long-term mate. Appearance, or looks, come in fourth when considering characteristics of long-term mates although it is the most preferred characteristic in short-term mates, according to a study conducted by David Geary, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and pending publication in the journal Human Nature.
These results seem to defy conventional wisdom which holds that women are primarily concerned with status and financial resources when looking for a long-term mate. Somewhat more surprising, the results stem from data collected from 460 women whose average income was less than $10,000 per year. The purpose of the study was to explore what role a woman’s socioeconomic status, education and other similar factors, play in choosing potential mates. Participants distributed 100 points across six traits, including looks, money, status, commitment, intelligence and kindness. The traits were evaluated separately for long-term and short-term potential mates.
“For the women in the study, a long-term mate’s status was not as important as is found in more affluent samples, perhaps because few potential mates with status are available, and a significant subset of the women assessed in the study appeared to view short-term mating relationships as a means to secure money and not ‘good genes’,” Geary said in a prepared statement announcing the results.
The most preferred characteristics of long-term mates are:
The women in the study group who focused on a short-term mate’s money were less well-educated, more likely to require government assistance and had more children.