Examined mate preferences in two national U.S. studies (

There were large gender differences in preferences for attractiveness and resources.

Older men and women had weaker preferences for desirable partner traits.

Wealthier men, but not women, had stronger preferences for good-looking partners.

People with more appearance satisfaction preferred slender and good-looking partners.

According to a mating market approach, people with desirable traits have a stronger bargaining hand and can be more selective when choosing partners. We examined how heterosexual mate preferences varied by gender, age, personal income, education, and appearance satisfaction (Study 1N=22,815;Study 2N=4790). Men and women differed in the percentage indicating it was desirable or essential that their potential partner was good-looking (92% vs. 84%;d=.39), had a slender body (80% vs. 58%;d=.53), had a steady income (74% vs. 97%;d=1.17), and made/will make a lot of money (47% vs. 69%;d=−.49). There were also gender differences in whether it was very important or a must have their partner made at least as much money as they do (24% vs. 46%;d=.60) and had a successful career (33% vs. 61%;d=.57), but not in whether their partner was physically attractive to them (40% vs. 42%;d=.03). Wealthier men and people with better appearance satisfaction had stronger preferences for good looking and slender partners. Preferences varied within and between genders, and were linked to bargaining hand in the mating market.

Shared first authorship. Both authors contributed equally to the preparation of this manuscript and authorship was determined alphabetically.

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