His main area of study has been human desires, what people want when they are looking for a husband or wife. To research this, he surveyed over ten thousand people in thirty-seven cultures on six continents. What his findings show is that men tend to choose mates more on physical attractiveness and youth. While women seek men with more financial power.
Now this may come as no surprise to us in America, because men here have always wanted women who were more physically attractive, and women have always wanted to marry a rich man, like a doctor or a lawyer. What Buss found out is that it is also similar in other cultures. How a man’s wealth is determined may vary, but the man’s desirability is the same.
From his studies and what he has gathered from past information, he has put together a good theory that explains why we have our preferences for a mate the way we do. It dates back to our ancestors, some of the first humans. The main goal for them was to survive. To do this men wanted to have as many children as they could. Women wanted men who could protect them. For them the man’s wealth was measured by his social status, strength, and ability to fight (to protect themselves). From generation to generation these traits were inherited, written deep down in our subconscious.
The characteristics men look for in women are: skin tone, symmetry in the face, clear skin (acne can be a pre-indicator of high testosterone levels, which could mean they may have ovarian dysfunction), and a low hip-to-waist ratio. This ratio is the 36-24-36 measurements. This certain hip to waist ratio is a strong indicator that the woman is more fertile, and thus able to have more children. The reason men want younger women as their choice for mates is that because they’re younger, once again they can produce more children. Of course now they’re not as interested in having a large family, but these standards, throughout history, have never changed. The most beautiful supermodels have these certain measurements. The models who are extremely skinny usually aren’t considered as sex symbols.
Women today still look for that doctor or lawyer, the kind of guy that will keep them supported financially. They do this because of those subconscious thoughts we inherited from our ancestors – to be able to protect their family. A man with lots of financial power will be able to support a family easily, making the woman’s job as a mother easier. People in positions of power, generally men, have people who will do anything to fulfill their desires, just because of their status. A good example is President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Now, not all women are looking to try to date Bill Gates, but you’ll find most women do want a guy who has done somewhat well in life.
All these things don’t mean that men are “sexist pigs,” and that women are “gold diggers,” it just explains why we do have these tendencies. It also helps to explain relationships as a whole.
Women are looking more into a long-term relationship. This would help in raising a successful family. It is also the reason most women will usually forgive a guy for cheating on them once, just as long as they’re not falling in love with another girl (or guy). Because if the man was falling in love with someone else, then her perfect family would be wrecked.
Men are usually thinking about a short-term relationship. The reason behind this is because back in the days of our ancestors, the male needed to produce many children to keep his family strong. The more women he had to mate with, the more children he could have. Most men aren’t thinking about having all those children anymore, but there have been some cases where rich businessmen had sex with many women because they wanted to have children. They needed to prove that they could support all of them.
Men tend to become more upset if they realize their mate has been sleeping with someone else, than if their mate is falling in love with someone else. The reasoning behind this is, if a woman will have sex with other guys, who’s to say that the man’s child is really his. Women obviously know they are the mother, but there can always be that small doubt for men.
Men have a whole agenda for getting women to have sex with them. Because of this, many women have been the victims of all sorts of types of abuse. But ultimately, how things work out are all really controlled by women’s sexual agenda. If they would only have sex with men who walked on their hands, it wouldn’t be long before all the men are walking around upside down.
Buss describes love as a way for men and women to bond so they can mate. He sees love as a commitment of remaining faithful, sticking up for each other, reproduction resources, physical and emotional protection, and the giving of gifts and economic resources.
In conclusion, Buss’s survey of different cultures and research in the field of sexual desires and human mating has led to the gathering of important information. Many other psychologists have used what he has learned and published to continue work in this field. His research has helped to give us a greater understanding about ourselves.
U.S. News and World Report (July 19, 1993): title-The Mating Game, written by William F. Allman.
Miami Herald (Jan. 27, 1998): title-Power and Sex, written by Curtis Morgan.
Toronto Star (April 30, 1994): title Crazy Little Thing Called Love, written by Debra Black.