1. What characteristics do females and males desire in a mate?
2. Are there sex differences in the experience of love?
By the end of today’s class, you should be able to:
1. review theories of sex differences in mate preferences
and the research findings that support them.
2. identify sex similarities in mate preferences.
3. distinguish between Sternberg’s love types and Lee’s love styles.
4. discuss sex differences and similarities in the experience of
Sternberg’s components of love.
1 What characteristics do females and males desire in a mate?
• Explanations for sex differences in importance of resource potential
and physical attractiveness:
1. Evolutionary explanation: Emphasizes sex differences in minimal
2. Social role explanation: Emphasizes division of labour between
males and females in traditional societies.
3. Social construction explanation: Emphasizes social norms regarding
sex differences rooted in norms we acquire in social learning. Cultural
differences is mate preferences are greater than sex differences
• Although sex differences consistently emerge in the importance of
resource potential and physical attractiveness, these characteristics are
relatively unimportant to both sexes:
2 Hatfield and Sprecher, 1995 (also see Toro-Morn & Sprecher, 2003)
Assessed mate preferences in Japan, Russia, and the US.
In all cultures, found that both sexes valued “internal” attributes (e.g.,
kind) more than “external” attributes (e.g., physically attractive).
Hatfield: resource potential is considered external
resource potential (ambitious, money status and position) are higher f
Physical attractiveness is higher for males
Females are choosier/pickier than males (they have a greater empha
sis on the attributes)
Males and Females follow the same pattern with kindness and sense
of humor and expressive and openness as the top three attributes and t
hen following the same pattern for the rank order for the rest of the attrib
The sexes have a great degree of commonality with what they seek f
or in a mate • Moreover, research suggests that both sexes are
attracted to individuals who possess attributes similar
to their own.
Thus, research supports the “similarity-attraction” hypothesis (vs. the
“potential-attraction” or the “opposite-attraction” hypotheses) for both
Similarity hypothesis: Research shows that males and females are attra
cted to people who are similar to their own, they dont try to have someo
ne who fills deficits in their own personalities
Sex differences in the experience of love
Under the age of 30 females have greater emphasis on getting married
Over age of 30 males have greater emphasis on getting married
4 Are there sex differences in the experience of love?
• Several theories of love have been proposed by
psychologists. Among these theories are:
1. Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love
Maintains that there are three components associated