A man’s dating behavior may be directly affected by how rich he feels compared to everyone else, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
The findings show that men who felt like they had more money than other men in a group became less satisfied with their partner’s attractiveness and were more interested in short-term relationships.
“We wanted a better understanding of the psychological importance of money in the development of romantic relationships because very little is known about this subject. That way people would have a better perspective of the relationships they are in,” said Dr. Darius Chan from the Department of Psychology at the University of Hong Kong.
The researchers conducted two experiments involving groups of Chinese college students who were already involved in heterosexual long-term relationships. In order to examine their mating behaviors, each couple was made to think they were either wealthy or poor.
In the first study they found the wealthy men were less satisfied with their current partner’s physical attractiveness and were more interested in short-term relationships compared to men who had been made to feel that they had less money. However, women who felt wealthy did not make higher demands regarding their partner’s physical appearance.
Furthermore, all of the wealthy participants in the second study found it easier to interact with an attractive member of the opposite sex compared to poorer participants. And more men than women from both wealthy and poor conditions selected a closer seat to the more attractive people.
“We remarked that wealthy men attach more importance to a mate’s physical attractiveness, setting higher standards and preferring to engage in short-term mating than those who have less money. However, for committed women, money may lead to less variation in their mating strategies because losing a long-term relationship generally has a higher reproductive cost,” said Chan.
From an evolutionary standpoint, these types of mating strategies may have helped our ancestors maximize their reproductive success.
However, by observing how people reacted when they thought themselves to be wealthy or poor supports the evolutionary psychology hypothesis that individuals adopt conditional mating strategies in response to environmental conditions such as money possession.
And while the findings were tied to a specific culture, these psychological mechanisms still play important roles in human mating around the world.
“Whereas it remains as an empirical question to be answered, we expect that our findings are likely to be found in other cultures as well, because the basic mechanisms of mate selection have been found to be rather similar across culture,” Chan said.
Source: Frontiers in Psychology