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Women prefer muscular men for flings, humour for marriage: Study

IANS | October 15, 2023 04:17 PM

NEW YORK: Women prefer physical strength -- upper-body strength, specifically -- in short-term contexts, according to a study.

The findings, published in Personal Relationships, showed that affiliative, or benevolent, humour is a more attractive trait for success at long-term relationships

"Our data indicate that strength and humour are independent in their influence on women's preferences, though we continue to show that women prioritise men's strength in short-term relationships and affiliative humour in long-term contexts," said Mitch Brown, psychology instructor in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas in the US.

“These data provide evidence for how women navigate mating markets through various fitness cues.”

The research focuses on the use of evolutionary perspectives in understanding motives that shape social perceptions and interpersonal preferences. It shows how people prioritise physical features and behaviours in determining preferences for short-term and long-term mates.

For the study, sampled the preferences of 394 women, identifying as either heterosexual or bisexual, at a large public university.

With a mean age of 19 years, 251 participants identified as single and 143 as partnered.

Historically, reproductive success has been dependent on the identification of a mate with physical and psychological traits that satisfy relevant reproductive goals.

The ideal has been to select a mate who is both physically attractive and possesses positive behavioural attributes. However, the improbability of finding this mate has necessitated prioritisation of one set of traits over another.

The researchers sought to determine how women evaluate the desirability of strong men employing affiliative and aggressive humour across short-term and long-term contexts.

Affiliative humour was defined as benevolent, a type of humour that attempts to connect or associate rather than offend or alienate. This latter type of humour, aggressive, was emphatically undesirable for women in long-term contexts.

The researchers found no interactive effects between physical strength and humour. In other words, strength and humour operated independently in their influence on women's preferences.

Overall, Brown said, their results indicated that women’s choices in a male partner are varied and “frequently involve evaluating the costs and benefits of various constellations of traits.”

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