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When It Comes to a Mate, Beauty Can't Be Beat
Date:2/14/2008

New research finds that both men and women place a premium on looks

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- With Valentine's Day as a backdrop, researchers are taking a cold look at the hot topic of romantic attraction and turning some long-held assumptions on their pretty heads.

Debunked myth number one: Men alone place a premium on appearance, while women prioritize mates by the size of their wallets.

Reality check: It turns out that regardless of what people may claim they want, in the real world of face-to-face dating, physical attractiveness is the number one draw for both sexes, ahead of either money-making potential or ambition.

"When you ask them to describe their ideal preferences, women consistently say they care more about earning prospects, and men consistently say they care more about physical attractiveness," said study co-author Paul W. Eastwick, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology at Northwestern University. "But when you see what men and women are truly attracted to, you don't find these sex differences emerging."

Debunked myth number two: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Reality check: People stick to a universal standard of beauty when assessing the physical attributes of others, no matter how attractive the judging parties are themselves.

"Although more attractive people are more selective in terms of the attractiveness of their potential mate -- in terms of who they choose to date -- all people, regardless of their own looks, perceive the attractiveness of others in similar ways," said the lead author of the second study, Leonard Lee, an assistant professor in the marketing division of the Columbia University Business School.

Eastwick's work is published in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, while Lee's finding were expected to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Scie
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