Money Makes Men Think Their Partners Are Less Physically Attractive
Money does funny things to the mind. Merely thinking about it can alter perceptions of pain and feelings of social rejection. Thoughts of cash also boost feelings of self-sufficiency, resulting in an increased desire to be independent. Wealth even triggers a response akin to addiction.
As new research published to the journal Frontiers in Psychology shows, money also messes with our minds when it comes to mating. Turns out, if you give a man some money, he'll think his partner is less attractive.
Researchers based out of Beijing Normal University in China invited 182 heterosexual college students (121 women, 61 men) in committed relationships into the lab and primed them to feel either rich or poor using two different forms of a questionnaire about financial status. Afterwards, participants rated their satisfaction with their romantic partners across various attributes, including job prospects, family background, and physical attractiveness. The ratings were completed on a 1 to 9 scale (1 = does not match my ideal at all, 9 = completely matches my ideal). Subjects also answered demographic questions about gender, age, and monthly income.
When the researchers examined the subjects' answers, they found that men primed to feel wealthy were less satisfied with their partners' physical attractiveness than men primed to feel poor. The difference was highly significant, a full point on the 9-point scale. Women did not display any differences.
The study replicates a similar effect seen in a study conducted in 2012. Researchers in Singapore exposed men and women to stacks of paper, a sum of money equal to $84, or a sum of money equal to $2,100, then asked them about their requirements of a potential mate. Men who handled the largest sum of money desired mates who were far more attractive. Women's requirements were unchanged.
According to the researchers behind the current study, both results are in line with expectations of evolved human mating strategies.
"Whereas both men and women prefer an attractive mate, men are more likely to value a mate’s physical attractiveness, which signals a woman’s fertility and reproductive value, than women. On the other hand, women are more likely to attach importance to a mate’s resources than men."
The study was carried out on Chinese college students in dating relationships, so the results may not apply to denizens of the Western world or to married couples. Moreover, just 61 males took part, making sample size a potential issue.
Source: Li YM, Li J, Chan DK-S and Zhang B (2016) When Love Meets Money: Priming the Possession of Money Influences Mating Strategies. Front. Psychol. 7:387. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00387