In the first study, Eastwick joined his co-author Eli J. Finkel, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, to conduct 30-minute online surveys of 163 undergraduate students regarding their pre-dating preferences for an "ideal" romantic partner. With an average age of almost 20, the participants and their responses split by gender -- men placed an emphasis on looks, women on money.
Approximately a week to two weeks later, all took part in a speed-dating event in which multiple four-minute "dates" occurred over the course of two hours.
Over the following month, as speed-date meetings turned into subsequent dating, students continued to register their views on both ideal romance and the actual characteristics of their speed-date matches. And the researchers found that although men and women may say they're from different worlds when it comes to attributes in a potential mate, they're equally inspired by physical attractiveness.
That's not to say a prospect's earning power was deemed irrelevant. In fact, after appearance, both men and women showed equal interest in good earning potential and ambition, the study found.
Trying to explain the findings, Eastwick and Finkel suggested that it could be that men and women don't really know what they want in a partner. Or, perhaps both sexes tend to engage in faulty role-play, taking cues from popular culture and gender myths when drafting their own idealized views of a mate.
The question of what men and women really want in a partner was explored further in the second study, in which Lee joined colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to analyze data collected by the online dating site "HOTorNOT.com." The Web site allows members to post photos and profiles, rank each others' attractiveness, and indicate dating interests.
The study authors found that more attractive people tended to be p
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