Mate Selection Theories
How do people choose their partners?
Mate Selection Theories
Social Homogamy
 Ideal Mate Theory
 Developmental Perspective
 Evolutionary Psychology
 Social Exchange Theory
 Filter Theory

Social Homogamy




People are attracted to those from similar backgrounds.
Areas of similarity: Age, race, ethnic background,
socioeconomic status, political views, religion, similar
appearance status, proximity (live nearby).
Similarities ensure that couples will manage their shared
resources more efficiently and with less conflict.
Best explains arranged marriages

Parents seek out a partner who is similar to their son/daughter
Ideal Mate Theory


Attraction is based on an individual’s
unconscious image of the ideal partner. This is
based on their perceptions of the meaning of
certain physical characteristics and social status.
People assess their resources (attractiveness,
wealth, personality, and social status) and look
for a mate who will be attracted to these
resources and/or traits.
…Ideal Mate (continued)


Most will find a mate in society because
individuals are attracted to different people. We
don’t all find the same things attractive.
Supports the idea of “love at first sight,” since
everyone has an unconscious ideal with which
they compare a person to find him/her
attractive. This helps them make the immediate
comparison or judgement of a person as
loveable or unloveable.
Developmental Perspective



Individuals are unable to relate to someone else
without first understanding who they are and
what their roles in life are.
They must understand what they have to offer
another person and what they want or need in
return.
If they don’t have a sense of who they are (their
identity) prior to forming romantic
relationships, the relationship defines their
identity.
Evolutionary Psychology


In prehistoric times, mate selection was based on
reproduction and the ability to procreate future
generations.
Women preferred men who would be good fathers and
providers for their children.
 Sought
out men who were healthy, intelligent, welleducated, hard-working, and ambitious.

Men preferred women who could bear healthy babies,
feed their kids, and were intelligent and well-tempered
to raise them.
 Sought
out women who were attractive, young, healthy,
had wider hips than their waist (a sign of fertility).
Social Exchange Theory




Individuals will analyze their assets and deficits
(flaws).
They will look for a partner who balances their
assets and deficits.
They will seek to get ahead or to move up
through successful mate selection.
Best explains marriages of older, wealthier
men/women with young, attractive
men/women.
Murstein’s Filter Theory


Explained the relationship
among dating, social homogamy,
and social exchange as a multistep process.
He uses the analogy of ‘sifting’ to
suggest that individuals pass
their dates through a series of
‘filters’ to screen out
unacceptable marriage partners.
Field of Eligibles
Who is available?
Propinquity
Who is realistically attainable? Who do I know?
Attraction
Looks at appearance and personality preferences.
Homogamy
Look for similarities in values, age, race, religion, etc.
Compatibility
Do their attitudes, values, needs, temperament,
roles, and habits mesh well with mine?
Trial
Cohabiting? Engagement?
Decision
Have I made a good choice?
Marriage
Intimacy

Emotional side of a relationship
 Closeness
 Sharing
 Support
 Communication

Increases steadily throughout a
relationship – eventually levels out
Passion




Motivational part of a relationship
Leads to physiological arousal
An intense desire
Develops quickly
Commitment

Cognitive side of a relationship
 Short-term
decision to love
 Long-term decision to maintain that love

Grows and develops
 Non-existent when a relationship fizzles
out
 The
AREA and SHAPE
of the triangle
indicates the amount
and form of love
Friendship
Companionate
Romantic
Consummate
Empty
Fatuous
Infatuated
Non-Love
Non-Love
•
•
Absence of all three components
Describes the majority of our
personal relationships
Friendship
•
Refers to the feelings experienced in
true friendships
Infatuated Love
•
•
The “love at first sight” feeling
High degree of physiological
arousal
Empty Love
•
•
When a relationship has become dull
Typical of arranged marriages – at the
start
Romantic Love
•
•
Physical attraction paired with an
intimate relationship
Typical of affairs since there’s no
commitment
Fatuous Love
•
•
•
Hollywood Love
Relationship progresses quickly
Very little long-term success
Companionate Love
•
•
Describes a long-term friendship/
union that lacks any physical
attraction
Seen in lengthy marriages
Consummate Love
•
•
•
The goal of many couples
Difficult, but not impossible, to attain
Challenging to maintain it
Another perspective on Love
Styles of Loving
Companionate
 Romantic
 Altruistic
 Egotistic
 Manic
 Pragmatic

Companionate




Rooted in long-term friendship and
loyalty
Evolves gradually towards love
Stable, non-demanding, committed,
and trusting
Opposite of manic love
Romantic



An intense desire to care for their
partner
Strong, physical connection
Desire to be inseparable

Egotistic



Self-serving love
More interested in the “game” of love
May engage in several relationships
simultaneously
Goal is to get partner hooked without
investing your own emotions into the
relationship
Altruistic



Places partner’s needs above their
own
May pass up better relationships
rather than abandon a bad one
Opposite of egotistic love

Manic


An irrational, crazy passion
Possessive and clingy
Intense to the point of being all
consuming
Pragmatic



A rational, practical, logical choice in
partner
Lacks emotional intensity
Involves a careful evaluation of their
qualities with your own
Do’s and Don’ts of the Assignment






Do not title your assignment, “Want Ad Assignment.” Be creative with a
catchy title or question to peak the interest of your readers.
There should be more than one paragraph for each of your advertisement
and your analysis. One huge paragraph is difficult to read. Consider what you
are including in each paragraph.
Do not list your qualities with commas. Elaborate on each of your qualities
with an example or a “for instance.”
Be creative with your font. Times new roman isn’t very interesting.
You may use more than one theory, but be specific in your analysis with how
each theory applies. Also, you must discuss two theories if two are evident in
your advertisement.
Do NOT put your name or any identifying information on the front of your ad.
Do NOT use your real cell number or email address. Put your name on the
back only.
Analysis Layout




Introduction – include theory of mate selection,
form of love, and style of loving
Theory of Mate Selection – include a brief
description of the theory (in your own words), and
several quotations from your advertisement to
support your theory
Form of Love (Sternberg) – brief description of the
form (in your own words), and support from your
advertisement
Style of Loving (Lee) – brief description of the style
of love (in your own words), and support from your
advertisement
Supporting Your Analysis
Example:
In my relationship advertisement, I indicate that, “I am
honest to the point where sometimes I come across
blunt and rude. This trait needs to be appreciated by
someone who won’t be overly sensitive and who
might retort with similar bluntness.” This specifically
relates to Social Homogamy, a theory of mate
selection, in which people look for others who display
similar personality traits. Furthermore, I go on to say
that…
SUCCESS CRITERIA
PLEASE ATTACH THIS ASSIGNMENT SHEET TO YOUR
FINISHED PRODUCT WHEN SUBMITTING FOR MARKING
/1
/5
/5
/5
/1
/20
/5
Your gender and gender you are seeking
Qualities/personality traits you possess
Qualities you seek in a partner
Creativity and presentation
Type of relationship you seek
Analysis – Theory of Mate Selection
Spelling/grammar conventions
/10 Analysis – Form of Love (Sternberg)
/10 Analysis – Style of Loving (Lee)