Men only want one thing

But it’s not the one you’re thinking of (if you’re a man):

Personal ads are a potentially rich source of information on relationships, particularly mating strategies. Most research on personal ads has been limited to content analyses of naturally occurring ads. In this study, four “female seeking male” ads were placed on two large internet bulletin boards specializing in such ads.

The four ads, differing primarily in a few key words representing the manipulated independent variable, garnered over 500 e-mail responses in 6 weeks. Contrary to prior research and to our prediction, the most popular was one in which the woman described herself as “financially independent … successful [and] ambitious” producing over 50% more responses than the next popular ad, one in which the woman described herself as “lovely … very attractive and slim.” A content analysis of responses to the ads revealed that information provided varied as a function of the ad they were answering.

Strassburg and Holty discuss their findings in light of the evolutionary psychological prediction, stated by a good number of authors, that men should prefer the sexually attractive woman.

From Strassburg, Donald S. and Stephen Holty June, 2003 An experimental study of women’s internet personal ads. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32:253-260. via the Evolutionary Psychology list.

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6 Responses to Men only want one thing

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thus making the men who respond to personal ads even more pathetic losers than most people already presume them to be?


  2. qB says:

    As Pinker would probably say, QED. Quick, find something else.

  3. el Patron says:

    I like this because it does show a lot of unPinkerish complexities. The interview I did with Robin Dunbar was fun partly because he was teetering on the brink of saying all the obvious rude things about Pinker without ever quite falling over.

  4. Oliver says:

    One of the things that gets me about Pinker is stuff like this. “No one objects to keeping chimpanzees out of our schools, even though it is conceivable that if we tested every chimp on the planet we might find one that could learn to read and write. We apply a speciesist stereotype that chimps cannot profit from a human education, figuring that the odds of finding an exception do not outweigh the costs of examining every last one.” [BS — p163] Now this is simply not true. “we” make no such calculation. I doubt any single person ever has made that calculation. The idea that this calculation is the “reason” that there are no chimps in schools is just barmy. But so ingrained is the cost-benefit way of thinking to his mind that he hardly even trips up over its absurd application. These assertions about why the world is the way that it is crop up again and again, and detract from the more interesting and evidence based stuff about why we are what we are. Indeed they detract so much that i find the current book very difficult to read.

    Sorry. Off topic


  5. JackD says:

    Many of these bulletin boards, like many London phone boxes, have been taken over by the commercial sex industry. The term ‘financially independent’ is used by women to reassure potential repondents that they are not prostitutes. It is therefore not surprising that the financially independent phrase drew a better response than the one about looks. Perhaps the apparently naive perpetrators of this study should now investigate whether men who respond to personal ads should be regarded as more honourable than those who use public phoneboxes!

  6. rupert says:

    Rock and Roll got there first, of course, with this fine song from Cake:

    (partial quote)

    I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
    Who uses a machete, to cut her red tape

    With fingernails that shine like justice
    And a voice that is dark like tainted glass
    She is fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack

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