Science has proven that women care more about money when dating than men

Science has proven that women care more about money when dating than men

Navigating the world of romance can be really tricky for both genders, but a lot of men (myself included) are completely clueless. What makes us attractive truly is a mystery to most men, and it varies so much that it's difficult to determine exactly what traits are considered desirable and what are obnoxious. In this regard, male seduction is just like the mating techniques of the bowerbird. The bowerbird is a small species of fowl which hails from New Guinea and Australia, and males attract females in a novel way.

The male bowerbird spends its days meticulously constructing gorgeous nests out of twigs, leaves, flowers and shrubs to advertise themselves as potential candidates for reproduction. If a female bowerbird is particularly impressed with the edifice, then she might choose to mate with the male - if not, the disappointed animal will destroy their nest in frustration and start again from scratch. A lot of men act exactly like bowerbirds: we show off, constructing egocentric personas to win approval from others.

We display our worth to potential partners through our work, and our earnings. "Look how good an artist I am," you might say, "look how much work I've put in." Or you might suggest: "look at the business I manage, I've built it from scratch." But the most obvious way men are like the bowerbird is the way in which we flaunt wealth and boast materialism. Cash, and plenty of it, is the way that we show partners that we are hard workers that can provide security for them. Sure, it might sound a bit shallow to some. But here's the thing: science has proven that being rich gives men a huge natural advantage in the dating scene. That's bad news for blokes out there who are as broke as me.

A study entitled "Different impacts of resources on opposite sex ratings of physical attractiveness by males and females", which was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour in December 2017, claims to have proven that, on average, women care far more about a potential partner's income than men do. To determine this, researchers asked participants to view a number of images of men and women, in juxtaposition with their annual salaries, to discover how economics influenced of economic attractiveness. They asked a number of American, Chinese and European people to rate how attractive they found the people represented in the pictures.

The researchers learned that the attractiveness-rating heterosexual women were around 1000 times more sensitive to the earnings of their male counterparts when giving them a sexiness-score. Apparently, other physical factors such as weight (measured via the body mass index) nor height or even age influenced the attractiveness of men for women when finances were taken into consideration. When a control group of women viewed the images of the same men, but this time without any reference to their income, then all men rated lower on average.

A large stack of banknotes. Credit: Pixabay

As the paper's abstract notes: "Parental investment hypotheses regarding mate selection suggest that human males should seek partners featured by youth and high fertility. However, females should be more sensitive to resources that can be invested on themselves and their offspring. Previous studies indicate that economic status is indeed important in male attractiveness. However, no previous study has quantified and compared the impact of equivalent resources on male and female attractiveness ... This difference explains many features of human mating behavior and may pose a barrier for male engagement in low-consumption lifestyles."

John Speakman, the study's co-author, stated: "A man can move himself two points higher on the attractiveness scale we used if his salary increases by a factor of ten. For a female to achieve the same two-point effect her salary would need to increase by 10,000 times ... This potentially explains a previous study that showed men give more money to charity when women are watching them than when other males are watching."

These findings seem to corroborate with those published in Feminist Media Studies in August 2017. A study by Coventry and Aberystwyth universities analysed images posted on Tube Crush, a website where people can post unsolicited images of attractive men they have spotted on the London Underground. Although many of the comments on the photos focused on the (predominantly) muscular physique of the men, the researchers noticed that a large proportion focused on attributes which indicated wealth, such as expensive clothes, watches, haircuts and gadgets.

A woman hold two £20 notes. Credit: Pixabay

Commenting on her findings, lead author Adrienne Evans, of Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures, stated: "Although it appears as though we have moved forward, our desires are still mostly about money and strength ... From smart-suited city workers to toned gym-goers flashing their flesh, the men featured in the photographs on Tube Crush show that as a culture we still celebrate masculinity in the form of money and muscle.”

However, just in case any potential misogynists out there start getting excited; it should be pointed out that these scientific experiments do not prove that all women are shallow gold-diggers. On the contrary, it simply shows that in general, on average, with many exceptions, men and women are both shallow and express this in different ways. By comparison, men seem to have an overwhelming preoccupation with the physical appearance of women, and take almost no interest in their career or earnings when selecting a mate. The lesson to take away from all this is that men would date a pauper as readily as a banker, assuming they were good-looking enough, and that there are a fair few men out there who are going to have to ask for a raise if they harbour any hopes of entering the gene pool.