What's the Latest Development?
Sociologists at Notre Dame have gone beyond the Valentine's Day clichés, from "opposites attract" to "love at first sight," to discover how people really choose partners and what role physical beauty plays in the process. Their research rejects the notion of the trophy wife, i.e. the woman who trades her looks for status. Instead, the new study concludes that good looks are traded for control over the degree of commitment and progression of sexual activity. Among their findings are that "very physically attractive women are more likely to form exclusive relationships than to form purely sexual relationships."
What's the Big Idea?
Physical attractiveness also works to determine the number of sexual partners one has over a lifetime. "For women, the number of sexual partners decreases with increasing physical attractiveness, whereas for men, the number of sexual partners increases with increasing physical attractiveness." What previous research has ignored, say Notre Dame sociologists, is that people with high status are often considered more physically attractive (because they can afford beauty-care products, nice clothes, etc.) and that similarity (in education, race, religion and physical attractiveness) remains the strongest force in partner selection.
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