Assessments of Mate Value
Mate Trait Integration to Mate Value
Previous research has established that certain traits are seen as desirable in a potential partner, such as kindness, intelligence, similarity, and health. Additionally, there are sex differences, such that women tend to place more emphasis on status and earning capacity while men place more emphasis on physical attractiveness. However, overall mate value, the holistic evaluation of a person as a potential mate, predicts many relationship outcomes. However little research examines how individual traits are integrated into overall mate value.
My research compares different proposed trait integration possibilities from both a decision-making standpoint as well as an evolutionary standpoint. My research shows that compared to other methods, a weighted additive strategy which sums the multiplied cue values and cue importance best fits peoples choices of who is more attractive and is highly accurate at predicting. This is in comparison to other proposed mechanisms, including equal weights, Euclidean distance models, threshold models, and correlational models.
Brandner, Brase, & Huxman, 2020
Brandner, J. L., Brase, G. L., & Huxman, S. A. J. (2020). “Weighting” to find the right person: Compensatory trait integrating versus alternative models to assess mate value. Evolution and Human Behavior, 41, 284-292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.05.001
Abstract: An overall evaluation of potential relationship partners (mate value) is fundamental to numerous key lifetime decisions, but how people integrate the diverse component traits of mate value remains poorly understood. Three within-subjects studies (N = 190) contrast multiple models of mate value trait integration, including both compensatory and non-compensatory decision-making strategies. A weighted additive model outperformed equal weight and take-the-best strategies (Study 1), as well as an aspiration model, threshold model, Euclidean distance from ideal / realistic ideal models, and correlation to ideal / realistic ideal models (Studies 2 and 3). These results contrast with suggestions that mate value decisions should be non-compensatory or follow a Euclidean distance model. Correlational models are particularly poor fits to how people make mate choice decisions. The methodology developed here allows more sensitive assessments to reveal in finer detail the mental algorithms that guide this process. Further extensions can incorporate additional aspects of real-world assessments and mating decisions.
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