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The Role of Physical Attractiveness in Mate Selection and Self-Esteem

Importance of Physical Attractiveness in Mate Selection

Physical appearance plays a role in the way others perceive us in mating selection, especially within materialist societies such as ours: There is great magnitude placed on outer beauty.  With physical appearance playing such a role in mating selection, it will enhance judgment towards the perceiver or the self-perceiver’s self-esteem to decide in what kind of relationship they want to engage in, which is either casual or long-term.

  Physical attractiveness is extremely valued in potential relationships and the selection of a partner is related to their own self-esteem (Jonason, 2009). Attractive people will seek each other as mates, leaving less attractive people to choose amongst themselves. 

            Females and males are similar in judgments when it comes to selecting a partner for a noncommittal, one night stand encounter, which is an attractive partner (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). The attractive sex will look for those of similar ratings in physical attraction due to high self-esteem levels. Attractive females, compared to unattractive females, would be pursued by a greater number of males and thus have greater opportunity for courtship with different males. Indeed, a meta-analysis of studies in attractiveness and behavior revealed that attractive females date more frequently, have more sexually permissive attitudes, engage in a greater variety of sexual activity, and have sexual intercourse at an earlier age than do unattractive females (Feingold, 1992). Attractive females are higher in demand; therefore they can be choosy and have a wider variety of selection, not like unattractive people. Some studies have also reported a positive relationship between physical attractiveness and number of sexual partners (Stelzer, Desmond, & Price, 1987).

Social theorists propose that the belief that attractive people are socially skilled and popular shapes the reactions and behaviors of other people towards them, inducing attractive people to internalize stereotypic qualities in their self-concept and behave accordingly (Darley & Fazio, 1980). Attractive people are able to chose according to their liking because according to the review of the literature on the stereotype reveals that attractive people are more popular with the opposite sex, less lonely, less socially anxious, and more-socially skilled than less-attractive people (for a meta-analytic review, see Langlois et al., 2000).

For committed long-term relationships, females tend to lower their demand for attractiveness due to high social status or good financial prospects (for a review see Buss, 1999). Men tend to establish standards that are similar to women for high investment relationships, such as marriage but set lower standards for relationships that require less investment, such as one-night stands (Zeigler-Hill, Virgil; Campe, John; Myers, Erin, 2009).

Gender Differences in Mate Selection Preferences

In a casual encounter males will emphasize a lesser amount of physical attractiveness. In committed relationships males tend to look for more than attractiveness as well, such as personality traits like, kindness, understanding and good parenting skills. However, unlike females they assign greater importance to attractiveness compared to other personal qualities: males treat female attractiveness as a necessity in romantic relationships, making it the largest importance rather than exciting personalities, liveliness and sense of humor (Singh, 2004).  For instance, across wide variety of cultures, males tend to emphasize physical attractiveness in their desires for potential mates more than females do (Buss et al., 1990).

            Physical attractiveness is important to both sexes; however there are differences when developing relations. Women value socioeconomic status more when choosing a partner because they put more emphasis on financial and emotional support than they do on physical importance. Women have more to lose because of potential perils, such as childbirth. Due to anatomical differences between the sexes and phenomena such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, females are required to invest considerably more in the parenting process than males (Clark, Dover, Geher, & Presson, 2005).

Men don’t have the bearing obligation but they do consider caring on the male gene. They choose to develop long term relations with an attractive female because of reproducing successfully the male’s gene. A males emphasis on attractiveness can be due to a desire for a mate who is likely to be fertile and therefore, capable of successfully reproducing (Clark, Dover, Geher, & Presson, 2005). Therefore, a male who is physically attracted to his partner will more than likely stay in a long-term relationship because he is confident in her fertility. Because attractiveness signals attributes that are crucial for reproductive success, attractive people are pursued by many as potential mates, inculcating and reinforcing their beliefs about their greater desirability compared to unattractive people (Singh, 2004).

             The main purpose of this study is to determine if physical attractiveness plays a role in which males and females wish to engage in casual sex or pursue a serious relationship and how self-esteem influences that decision. It is predicted that although physical attractiveness is more important to men than to women, it is not as important to men when it comes to casual sex. However, when pursuing a serious relationship males place more emphasis on physical attractiveness.

The participants who volunteered for this study were 50 male and 50 female undergraduate students (M age= 25), who currently attend Cypress College. Participants were asked to take a questionnaire to help research come to better findings.

A physical attractiveness questionnaire was distributed for the collection of this data (Diller & Marano, 1997). Most of the questions came from a previous physical attractiveness survey, however, some questions were altered and more questions added to ultimately help find a better results for the hypotheses. There were four parts to the distributed questionnaire. The first part asked strictly about demographics such as, gender, age, and relationship status. Part two allowed the students to rate their own physical attractiveness of different parts of their body and their overall feeling of their appearance.

The next section of the survey asked about the importance of physical attraction on a daily basis, and asked the students to rate their appearance to others. In addition, they were asked about their psychological views such as, rating the statement, ‘I constantly stress about my physical appearance,’ on an ordinal scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The last part of the physical attractiveness questionnaire asked the numerical value of casual sex and serious relationships each person has had. They were also asked to describe the importance of physical attractiveness in both type of relationships, rating them from very important to very unimportant.

The purpose of this lab is to become familiar with the process of the basic APA formatting of a research paper..

Reformat the paper, Lab 8 APA Paper to Format:

1) Put paper numbering and running heads in proper format

2) Put various levels of headings in proper format

3) Format the paper with correct margins and spacing

4) Put the various sections of the paper in correct order

5) Check references for proper APA format and make corrections

6) Indicate any errors in tables and/or figures and put the tables and/or figures in APA format

7) Check Title Page for formatting of title, author names and author notes

8) Check the Abstract for correct formatting and inclusion of key words

Please refer to the sample professional paper in the APA Manual as the definitive example of APA format.Submit the reformatted paper into Canvas as an attached PDF file.

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