Choosing a Mate in Romania: A Cognitive Evolutionary Psychological Investigation of Personal Advertisements Market

Article excerpt

Abstract

Evolutionary psychologists generally combine sexual selection theory and empirical research to identify mating strategies in humans. The theory behind the current literature on human mating is the theory of parental investment (Trivers, 1972), which states that during mate search, given the asymmetry in parental investment of the two sexes, females should focus on attributes reflecting resources, whereas males should focus on indicators of health and fertility. Our study is an investigation of mating strategies reflected by the Romanian market of personal advertisements. We performed the content analysis of 400 personal advertisements placed online by heterosexual Romanian advertisers. Our findings are in agreement with Trivers's predictions and with other similar studies. Thus, Romanian men offered resources and were more interested in younger partners and in attributes signaling health and fertility. Romanian women were significantly more interested than men in older partners and in attributes reflecting wealth of the sought partners. Romanian women appear to be well attuned to their market value, whereas men overestimate themselves. Our study is, to our knowledge, the first one to investigate the Romanian advertisements market from an evolutionary psychological perspective, with a potential impact on the cognitive-behavioral therapy of couples and families.

Key words: parental investment theory, market value, mating strategies, mating preferences.

INTRODUCTION

Sexual reproduction is generally known as the process by which two individuals donate genetic material for the creation of their descendants that differ genetically from both parents. As discussed by Alcock (2001), the inter-individual variation resulting from sexual reproduction is considered to be the basic material for evolution via natural selection, as certain individuals are able to adapt better to their socio-ecological environment than others. Such a variation in adaptability is translated into variation in individual fitness (i.e., individual reproductive success and offspring abilities to survive and reproduce). Given that offspring are the primary vectors of parental fitness, the strongest interests of the parent's fitness should be to produce offspring that would well adapt to the prevailing environmental conditions. In this light, individuals should carefully chose their mates in order to fulfill the above mentioned fitness interests. Indeed, individuals of all sexually reproducing species, including humans, select mates that advertise their fitness qualities either directly, by possessing certain morphological, behavioral and psychological traits, or indirectly via the possession of superior resources (i.e., space, food, money etc.).

In nearly every human cultures, the long-term bonds (that are usually formalized as marriages) develop as a result of mate-choice decisions made either by the male and the female partners or by their relatives thereof (Buston & Emlen, 2003). Assuming that there is variation in terms of reproductive success between different marriages, then natural selection should favor those decision rules that govern the formation of the most reproductively successful couples (Buston & Emlen, 2003).

Over the last decades, human mating, particularly human mate choice, has been widely studied by evolutionary psychologists and psychologists. However, there is no common agreement among researchers regarding the fundamental mating strategies of humans (Schmitt, 2005). In evolutionary psychology and human ethology, the most common hypotheses of human mate strategies evolution are: the monogamy hypothesis, which states that human species is designed for long-life monogamy (Hazan & Zeifman, 1999), the polygynous relationship hypothesis (Symons, 1979), which posits that men are designed to mate with more than one partner at a time, the pluralistic mating repertoire hypothesis (Belsky, Steinberg, & Draper, 1991), and the hypothesis that, in humans, the two sexes have invented specific strategies of their own (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). …