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Researcher Explains How Romantic Relationships are based on Beauty, Income and Status

Update Date: Feb 09, 2013 04:56 PM EST

Beautiful, thin women are more likely to be committed in long-lasting relationships while handsome men are more likely to have multiple partners, according to research conducted on physical attractiveness and relationships between males and females.

Elizabeth McClintock, Sociologist from University of Notre Dame, has conducted many studies on human relationships and her work shows when people fall in romantic relationships and how factors like physical attractiveness, status and income shape their choices for romantic partners.

One of her studies published in the journal Biodemography and Social Biology called  "Handsome Wants as Handsome Does," shows that although good looks are an essential factor deciding income and status, they can also be important in forming sexual relationships and how these relationships are maintained (or broken) over time.

"Couple formation is often conceptualized as a competitive, two-sided matching process in which individuals implicitly trade their assets for those of a mate, trying to find the most desirable partner and most rewarding relationship that they can get given their own assets. This market metaphor has primarily been applied to marriage markets and focused on the exchange of income or status for other desired resources such as physical attractiveness, but it is easily extended to explain partner selection in the young adult premarital dating market as well," McClintock said in a press release.

The study showed that women who are very attractive tend to be in exclusive relationships than ones that based purely on sexual desires. For men, however, attractiveness leads to greater number of sexual partners. The study also found that thin women are likely to have fewer partners.

A recent study had found that even though beautiful people, especially women, are regarded as good and friendly, they might just be better at conforming to social rules than the average-looking women.

Trophy wife- a myth                                                                                                                                               

McClintock other yet-to-be published work called "Desirability, Matching, and the Illusion of Exchange in Partner Selection," dismisses the idea that attractive women prefer dating men who are rich.

Although there are a few examples, previous research on the subject shows that even the otherwise average-looking people choose partners based on looks, income and status, she said.

 According to McClintock, the research that supports the idea of exchange in relationships tends to ignore other factors like rich people are more likely to be regarded as well-groomed because they can afford good clothes. Also, these people are more likely to be well-educated.

"Indeed, I find little evidence of exchange, but I find very strong evidence of matching. With some exceptions, the vast majority of couples select partners who are similar to themselves in both status and in attractiveness," she concluded.

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