Making tradeoffs between personality and physical appearance when choosing short-term and long-term partners

When forced to make tradeoffs between physical attractiveness and personality, prior research suggests men and women will make these choices based on whether they are interested in a potential partner for a short-term or long-term relationship. In the current study, men and women were randomly assigned to either a short-term or long-term relationship condition and asked to make mating choices between pairs of potential hypothetical partners, given varying “mate budgets” to design ideal mates, and asked to rate themselves given the same traits. As predicted, men were more likely than women to choose physical attractiveness within either mating condition, while women were more likely than men to choose warmth, trustworthiness and intelligence. Warmth and trustworthiness were more preferred by both men and women for long-term relationships, while physical attractiveness was preferred by both sexes in the short-term. Status and resource were among the least desired traits of both men and women. Participant self-ratings were also found to reflect ratings of potential partners for either condition. In addition, when assessed for sociosexual orientation, men with more unrestricted sociosexual scores were found to prefer physical attractiveness across all methods, while women with unrestricted scores spent less on warmth and trustworthiness on the budget tasks and preferred physical attractiveness over warmth and trustworthiness in the vignette task.