Money, Power, And Prestige: The Truth About Socioeconomic Status In Relation To Mate Selection Or Why Women Like Rich Dudes And Men Like Hot Chicks.
Women typically marry up in socioeconomic status (SES), sometimes marry men with equal SES and rarely marry men of lower SES. SES consists of three components: earning power/financial resources, occupational prestige, and education. In a study by Townsend conducted in 1989, no woman preferred a spouse to have lower SES or income than she did, whereas some women preferred men with equal SES. The research found that women overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of supporting their husbands (not surprisingly).
As a woman increases in SES (think Oprah), she tends to look for men who have even higher SES (Stedman?). If she is exceedingly high in SES, she will settle for a man with the same SES. However, even a woman high in SES will rarely settle for a man lower in SES. Therefore, as a man increases his SES he increases his overall chances of achieving mates, since the pool of women willing to accept him increases. Celebrities typically tend to marry each other because they have similar SES.
It has been repeatedly shown that men seek women for their outward appearances. Men look for women who appear youthful and fertile and tend to ignore other factors. Women also seek beauty in men, but they typically find these cues sexier because they lead to greater earning power. Height is one such factor, and studies show that men who are taller, tend to earn more.
A woman’s SES is determined by her individual achievements as well as her social class, that is, where and how she was brought up. Women with post-secondary education, high paying jobs, and those raised in wealthy families will expect more in terms of resources and SES from men.
As Townsend’s study relates, impressing girls was easiest with a medical degree since it is the best way to confer high SES. It contains all three of the components (earning power, occupational prestige, and education). Science also supports the notion that good looking women marry men high in SES, despite other factors such as age, appearance, and sometimes even personality. Many attractive girls line up to be Hugh Hefner’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th girlfriend, rather than being the first girlfriend of a poor man. I suppose the logic here is that the math works out better. Zero money undivided is still no money; whereas millions, divided by six, is plenty.
Men targeting exceedingly attractive women therefore, will be required to impress them with fantastic figures. The exception of course is youth, when girls will ignore current financial standings in favor of cues that eventually lead to earnings. Society tells us repeatedly to ignore superficial factors such as looks and monetary earnings, yet despite this pressure, men continue unabated in their quest for curves and youth. No amount of societal pressure can overcome eons of evolution. To women, men with greater earning power leads to greater resources, which in turn to a better and easier life, including less physical labor, and a greater chance of raising a family successfully.
If we deny any of these as factors, it is only due to the blinding effects society has placed upon us. No doubt, other factors are at play too, but let us not confuse them. It is true women will seek men who are funny, with great personalities, those who are social, and so forth. However, these are a measure of his ability to invest in her tying them back into the all important SES. She can’t possibly secure his funds if she can’t secure his attention. His ability to invest in her with his time and money is conveyed by him with these other positive attributes. Thus, we shouldn’t confuse these factors with the issue, but rather we should stack them on to SES to compound the factors of attraction. While not everyone is out to anchor a wealthy man or an attractive woman, we do try to reach to maximize our potential given our inherent flaws. The adage that we, in time, eventually “settle,” isn’t just a foundationless saying, but is rather a function of an unfortunate reality. Not every man will attain a ‘ten,’ and not every woman will land a high executive or an M.D. with a fat pocket book and chiseled features.
For more information on dating and attraction, especially body language, check out my E-book – The Body Language Project: Dating, Attraction and Sexual Body Language found at www.BodyLanguageProject.com
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Townsend J.M. 1989. Sex differences in sexuality among medical students: effects of increasing socioeconomic status. Archives of Sexual Behavior 16: 427-446.
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