What’s love got to do with it? Factors influencing mate selection - Essay Prowess

What’s love got to do with it? Factors influencing mate selection


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What’s love got to do with it? : Factors influencing mate selection

1.0 Introduction

Throughout history, marriage has been a highly regarded union enshrined in all religious denominations, traditional cultures and values, historical beliefs as we as practices. In many societies marriage is deemed as being endorsed for those partners who have similar ideals in life. Many religious denominations consider marriage as a purposeful union so as to ensure that the human race continues in accordance to the will of God (Phelps, Rand & Ryan, 2006). Religion has that man and woman was created to take care of nature as it was created and as such was given dominion over everything on earth. In the contemporary society, more so the American society, mate selection is founded on aspects of romantic love which is a sentiment held true by both sexes. This essay however, seeks to look into factors that predetermine mate selection as provided for by research findings presented in numerous peer reviewed journals (Phelps, Rand & Ryan. 2006). These journals tend to query the credibility of romantic love as a basis for mate selection.

2.0 Historical Perspective

Mate selection has historically been based on romantic love and centered on opposite sex coupling. Dating or courtship was a highly formal affair and as such single ladies and in some instances young men were in most cases offered chaperones when going out alone. As much as some people tend to discount the significance of dating as an integral part of mate selection, it has changed quite a lot since the 1800’s (Phelps, Rand & Ryan. 2006). During this period, dating was widely known as courtship which by today’s contemporary understanding of dating may be considered as bland in some social circles. In the course of courtship, a young man carefully prepared his visits to a lady’s parental home, church social gathering or in community dances. As mentioned earlier, a lady’s parents were keen to supervise all of her visits with any potential suitor. The degree of control from a parental perspective was so high such that they had the prerogative to decide when courtship could graduate into marriage (Phelps, Rand & Ryan. 2006). This was done through the determination of how physical property such as land or otherwise could be handed over to the newlyweds or in some cases, when a young man would be granted permission to work for his newly found family.

In essence, courtship was the period through which a lady’s parents evaluated a young man’s ability to support their daughter after marriage. During this period, it was also determined whether or not a potential husband was within the expected social standing. In truth, during the 19th century, it was strongly believed that love blossomed after marriage as it was not tied at all to emotions such as passion or romance (Phelps, Rand & Ryan. 2006). Love was considered as a reflection of sincerity to one another, openness and a connection that lasted till the end of one’s mortal life. Courtship was deemed as a time when a man had to tame his wild desires and a time when a woman adapted herself for her role as a loving wife (Vitousek & Michael, 2013).

Marriage was considered as a vital way of life not only bringing order in life but also ensuring stability throughout their life together as man and wife. Kinship ties loosened considerably as young folk migrated to new settlements which soon translated to weaker parental control over courtship. Previously, as such, parents had no responsibility in choosing their sons or daughters spouses but indeed they influenced the choices they made (Phelps, Rand & Ryan, 2006). As the fire of industrialization spread across America, dating patterns began to change dramatically more so with the mass production motor vehicles which brought about a profound effect on male selection across all American states.

Dating at the beginning of the 20th century more so during the 1920’s adopted a rather dynamic pattern as a result of improving standards of life brought about by industrialization. As the white middle class society began becoming more affluent, leisure activities included dating which became the common mode of mate selection in America (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). The Youth also adopted a culture which was on average rather carefree. During the 1920’s, young adults had a degree of freedom from the parents which ensured that they had almost total control of the personal as well as social way of life. However, the Great Depression and the Second World War played a pivotal role in changing the American dating patterns. Dating thus became a competitive process, such that prospective mates were rated based on the degree of popularity among peers (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997).

As urban environments mushroomed all over America, dating became more unsupervised and young adults visited each other without the need for a chaperone. As such, courtship brought about a social-economic aspect as male partners had to have the ability to provide finances for picnics, dances or lunche (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997)s. This greatly changed dating as being not defined by compatibility or by romantic love but rather by how well a male partner could provide for a lady. This implied that women came to understand romance as being subjective to how well a man could afford to shower her with sweet delicacies like chocolate, fancy dinners, entertainment and luxuries. Automobiles also played a pivotal role in allowing foe private dating tendencies encouraging petting as well as intimacy (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997).

In the 1940’s through to the 1950’s the dating culture spread like a wild fire through America, more so becoming a means with which filtering mates became the norm. Among the youthful American population, an individual could continue to date a number of different persons before finally settling down with the partner considered as the most ideal mate given a person’s adopted way of life (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). As traditionally accepted gender roles became more stressed, double standards gradually became normal in the dating scene.

During the 60’s through to the 70’s, dating was transformed into a rather casual affair leading to postponements in marriage as sexual intimacy turned to be a fundamental aspect of dating. As a result, cohabitation was casually accepted by most dating couples (Schoen & Cheng, 2006). At the beginning of the 1960’s, women were concerned with finding a male partner who was not only financially endowed but also one who could commit to a stable relationship and attractive. The seventies saw the budding of a counterculture revolution where women saw themselves as being equal to men in defiance of the pre-established traditional values (Schoen & Cheng, 2006). Women became more vocal and demanded to have an equal standing as men in mate selection thus a woman could approach a man and ask him to be a mate. During the seventies, sex became an integral part of dating. However, in the 80’s and 90’s, sexual intimacy declined as the consequences of unprotected sexual intercourse got to be more pronounced with such diseases as AIDS (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). The rate of marital separations and divorce increased dramatically too making sexual intimacy during dating a trivial issue among some young adults. Caution and pessimism replaced the earlier carefree of dating given the risks that arose in the 80’s and 90’s.

3.0 Mate Availability in nonmetropolitan southern states in America from 1960 to 1990

Over the last five decades the African American family structure has undergone through dramatic change. These changes have been rather negative as they reflect a declines in the occurrence of marriages among the black population for both women and men, fewer husband and wife unions, a decreasing percentage of children being raised in husband and wife families, and more so a profound decrease in the percentage of African American marital births (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). These have played a great role in increasing the levels of poverty among the African American population thus tending to eat away at the gains realized in occupation and education. Such occurrences have been perceived characteristics of major urban centers (Cready et, al 1997). Prior to research studies conducted by Cready et, al (1997) only two comprehensive research studies have been carried out in nonmetropolitan areas such as in the southern state of Louisiana and other rural counties in the south.

The importance of understanding marriage patterns of blacks residing in nonmetropolitan regions is critical for a number of reasons. According to the American census report of 1992, over 15% of all African Americans lived in nonmetropolitan regions while in the southern states; nearly 30% of African American lived in nonmetropolitan areas (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). The United States Bureau of the census in 1991 reported that more than 40% of the African Americans living in nonmetropolitan areas were poor. This suggests that husband and wife families are on the decline in these regions bringing about a myriad of consequences from child poverty to increasing numbers of school dropouts (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997).

The research study conducted by Cready et al (1997) assessed the outcomes resulting from mate availability, welfare accessibility, women’s and men’s socioeconomic opportunities status, benefits from social welfare accessibility and the overall population size in black family structures in the nonmetropolitan regions in southern states from 1960 to 1990.

3.1 Determining factors of family structure

3.1.1 Mate availability

According to Cready et, al. (2007), mate availability critically affects how marriage is unionized and families formed. In instances where a particular gender is endowed with more potential mates than others, the less available gender regardless of whether its men or women enjoy an added advantage as additional alternative relationships are present for them (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). However, men control more economic resources as compared to women and thus tend to be less dependent on marriage for economic or financial support. In a curvilinear graph relationship model between mate availability and male gender marriage prevalence and for a positive linear graph relationship model correlating mate availability with female gender marriage prevalence the readings tend to vary. It is evident from both models that in the event there is a scarcity of potential mates, then both genders are unable to be in a marriage. But in the even that potential mates are in plenty, the female gender is more likely to marry (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). This is due to the underlying fact that women are in most cases dependent on marriage primarily for financial stability. The male gender on the other hand is less likely to enter into a marriage contract when the opposite gender is more available compared to the number of males. This is most likely the case because men can easily obtain the benefits realized in marriage such as sexual relations, companionship and children outside a marriage union. This is in most cases true with regard to African American males as there is a high percentage of mortality among men as well as very high incidences of incarceration thus a scarcity of African American men (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997).

3.1.2 Male and female socioeconomic standing and opportunities

It is justifiable to say that male economic position directly affects their power to woo potential mates. This is because a man in a lower economic position will deem it challenging to be a breadwinner for his spouse and young family (Buss, Shackelford, Kirkpatrick & Larsen, 2001). Thus, the economically sound a man is the more likelihood that female mates will accept their hand in marriage. On the contrary and in line with the earlier stated hypothesis on female gender’s economic independence the better female gender’s economic opportunities are both in an absolute and relative to a man’s, the less likely she is to marry (Tybur, Lieberman & Griskevicius, 2009).

As such, economic success and independence considerably minimizes a lady’s economic incentive to get married, remain in a marriage union or remarry. This implies that male economic opportunities ought to relate positively to marriage and more so in the African American family structure. On the other hand, increased economic opportunities for women relate negatively to the two variables that is marriage and consequently family structure (Elliot, et al, 2010).

3.1.3 Results

The trend realized by Cready et al, (1997), was seen to be consistent with the national trend depicting the African American family structure. Findings showed that marriage prevalence as well as that of husband and wife families has continued to be on the decline among the blacks living in the nonmetropolitan regions in the southern states. For instance, in 1960 the median for the percentage of children of African American descent living with both of their parents declined from 66 to 39 by the beginning of 1990 (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997).

Similarly the number of childbirths to African American with matrimonial homes in 1960 fell from 77% to 33% by 1990 (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). This resulted from a steady decline of men in the three decades. This is supported by the welfare benefits decline over the three decades. Yearly benefits accruing to the average family receiving AFDC grants are notably 50% of the median income earned by African American families as at 1960but this fell to 15% by 1990 (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). This is further expounded by the fact that black men have seemingly participated less in the nonmetropolitan labor force in southern states while women participation has increased marginally. However, Cready et. al (1997), reports that the mean socioeconomic status of African American women and me in employment has increased significantly from 1960 through to 1990. By 1990, the median for both genders at the county level was almost identical.

In summary, Cready et al. (1997) found out that among the black population in nonmetropolitan southern states, sex ratios increases translated to a higher prevalence by women for marriage, more husband and wife families, more husband and wife families living with their children as well as a higher number of marital births (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997). The study also conclusively summed up that male partner socioeconomic status and increased economic potential related positively to the above mentioned outcomes though women status and socioeconomic propensity to improve had negative effects on the African American family structure (Cready, Fossett & Kiecolt, 1997).

4.0 Mate selection scale and romance

The Attitudes about Romance and Male Selection Scale (ARMSS) which has 32 items was comprehensively developed as a measure for constraining beliefs with regard to male selection. As has been discussed all through this essay, the process of mate selection is a critical and at time difficult undertaking for most single adults. It is therefore true to say that very few other such choices may be as significant all through the lives of young couples, and their union in marriage. But as Cobb et al (2012) quotes Lederer and Jackson, there is the propensity for young adults to in most cases exhibit recklessness at the pinnacle of courtship. This is because they in most cases tend to ignore or assume inherent challenges that tend to plague marriage unions in the course of a couples lifetime. There are also some overrated beliefs and attitudes propagated in the contemporary American society which further contribute to feelings of frustration as well as dissatisfaction in the process that is mate selection (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). Among such beliefs are the many constraining beliefs with regard to mate selection.

Constraining beliefs include personal beliefs which tend to limit choice an adult makes on when and who to marry, minimal or otherwise exaggerated efforts to find an appropriate mate and inhibiting thoughts of consideration as to whether one has adequate interpersonal weaknesses or strengths such as premarital factors which define success in marriage (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). As much as many scholars have criticized the idea of romantic love as the sole justification of marriage, many young couples believe that their marriage will surpass all challenges based on their love for one another. Some young adults also believe in finding the right soul mate which might inhibit passive waiting which might lead an individual to miss out on marriage with a compatible mate (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). It is also important to note that some young adult tend to set their targets for potential mates so high that they are unattainable or in some instances so low that they only tend to attract poor prospective marriage partners.

There is little information in the available literature material as to the degree with which single adults tend to ratify such limiting beliefs or the degree with which some limiting beliefs as chosen over others. Beliefs tend to influence much in the way people express their feelings and the means with which they are guided to express personal responses (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). Such feelings and responses tend influence greatly the level of satisfaction couples realize in their lives or meaningful relationships.

It is therefore quite important to understand the prevalence with which constraining beliefs affect male selection (Zietsch, et al, 2011). These would provide a solid basis for understanding which constraining beliefs tend to become problematic among young adults looking for mates. This can go a long way in enabling marriage counselors, educators and therapists in helping young adults to better arrange for marriage (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). Regrettably, existing scales experience limitations such that there is no sure scale providing the measure for such constraining beliefs, more so beliefs associated with romance and or marriage.

4.1 Constraining beliefs affecting male selection

One major aspect regularly overlooked in the available empirical subject on this literature regarding mate selection relates to the influencing roles of particular beliefs associated with the mate selection process (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). There has been a scarcity of research carried out with regard to constraining beliefs prevalence in premarital relationships and more so in ways with which marriage counselors and therapists can offer interventions to young couples who hold on to such beliefs. According to Cobb et al (2003), Larson provided nine mate selection constraining beliefs which are held true by some young adults.

4.1.1 The one and only

There are some individuals who believe that there is only one perfect individual in the world suited to be their marriage partner. Young adults literally waste their youth looking for a soul mate or in other terms their second half so as to make their lives complete (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). This is a constraining belief as it requires young person to realize when the one and only mate is within grasp. This tends to be constraining since the young people tend to look or wait for an enchanted moment to happen leaving a good marriage prospect overlooked.

4.1.2 Perfect partner

This belief makes young people to think that they should not marry until they find their ideal partner.  Since there is no such thing as a perfect person, many young people holding on to this constraining belief thus losing out on an opportunity for a great marriage partner when the opportunity actually presents itself (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

4.1.3 Perfect self

There are some young people who hold on to the belief that until they have some certain degree of confidence then they cannot enter into a union in marriage (Perilloux, Fleischman & Buss, 2011). This particular belief is as constraining as the one above as no one can wholly be perfect in their own eye. It is worthy to note that a degree of personal confidence is important in making a marriage decision though some persons may feel a degree a level of anxiety in making a marriage decision (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

4.1.4 Perfect relationship

This constraining belief makes couples to feel that they have to prove that their relationship can work out before they actually make the decision to enter into a marriage union. However, it is prudent to take note of key premarital indicators which are critical to a successful marriage such as appropriate communication and problem solving abilities as well as the peer association with regard to values and beliefs (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). It is important for young adults seeking to enter into a relationship to seek partners who foster these important qualities and skills. Since there is no guarantee of marriage success, it is important for young adults to understand that there is no way that one can prove that marriage will work before entering into a union in marriage (Rodríguez, et al, 2011).

4.1.5 Try harder

This constraining belief makes young adults to feel that they can experience happiness with whoever they choose to marry provided that they can work hard enough to make marriage successful. There are some scholars according to Cobb et al (2003), who have suggested that in the instance that there are two sensible and mature individuals who have the will to work together towards making marriage work then this belief ceases to be constraining. In reality however, no every potential mate is incline to having such tendencies making a considerable degree of selectiveness is necessary before selecting a mate for marriage (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

4.1.6 Love is enough

There are some individuals who hold this constraining belief as true. They tend to believe that when they fall in love with a person then there is no other sufficient reason for one not marry the one they fall in love with. In the Western world, romantic love is highly valued as an important precondition for marriage. In truth there are very few people who would select a marriage partner without being in love with them (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). Young adults looking for a potential marriage partner should however be careful not to overlook other interpersonal and personal qualities just because they have fallen in love.

4.1.7 Cohabitation

There are some individuals who think that they have to cohabit with their potential future spouse so as to improve the chances for a happy marriage. According to the available literature material on this subject suggest that some folks who cohabit prior to marriage actually tend to be dissatisfied with one another after marriage (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). This is however dependent on the personal characteristics of a partner. Research findings present that there is a higher probability that cohabiters will experience more challenges in marriage than non-cohabiters. As such, it has been found out that non-cohabiters have a more positive attitude towards marriage while cohabiters have a tendency to value marriage lightly and more so lean towards divorce (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

4.1.8 Opposites attract

People with this belief feel that they can only enter into a marriage union with only that person with personal characteristics that are opposite to their own. As much as this is a popular belief, the available literature suggests that similarities in values, attitudes and belief are the most robust pre-indicators for a happy marriage (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

4.1.9 Choosing is easy

There are a number of people who tend to believe that getting the right marriage partner happens through some coincidence or that getting a marriage partner is easy. Such individuals do not believe that they have to work through to getting the right marriage partner rather they tend to wait for love at first sight and rarely put much thought before marriage (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

4.2 Behavior and belief

Not much is known concerning the prevalence of constraining beliefs with regard to mate selection especially among youthful adults and the influences that such beliefs bear on premarital relationships as well as marital relationships (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). However, there is a lot of literature material concerning romantic beliefs with regard to love as well as relationships. Romantic beliefs cannot be considered as constraining though they tend to overlap with four of the nine constraining beliefs discussed above, that is 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.1.4 and 4.1.6. Idealism is known to play a great role in bringing about distortions in how people perceive themselves and their relationships. Olson (1996) believes that such idealisms play a significant part in distorting their perceptions as is interpreted in the PREPARE scale (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). The PREPARE scale also measures such expectations such as commitment love and marital conflicts. An example of such expectations includes “time will heal all wounds” that can occur in a marital relationship (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

Previous research on romanticism paid much attention to gender influences as well as gender orientation with regard to romantic beliefs. One such regular finding is men are much more likely to value these beliefs than women (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003). Men are therefore more likely to be influenced by constraining beliefs when considering mate selection compared to women.

Recently more focus has been placed on connections between relationship quality and romantic beliefs. There is increasing evidence that people who tend to idealize one another while in a relationship are much more likely to experience high levels of satisfaction  in their relationship (Cobb, Larson & Watson, 2003).

5.0 Evolution of mate choice for human beings

Sexual behaviors among human beings and sexual differences have been over the years studied from diverse vantage points. However, in the recent past the evolution theory has been extensively been applied in studying human sexual differences and behaviors. In 1858, Darwin and Wallace individually discovered that natural selection results in evolutionary alterations or adaptions in all living species resulting in the development of a new species (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Darwin also postulated that sexual selection creates a situation whereby same sex species tend to compete with one another for a potential mate this is also referred to as intersexual competition. On the other hand, intersexual choice also postulated by Darwin refers to the discriminative tendencies of species on what partner to pick up as a mate (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). One very common dynamic while mating involves competition among males for their potential mates while females exhibit a tendency to choose who to mate with. A century later, Trivers and William were able to determine that every sexual difference which influences competition or choosiness does not exclusively influence the degree of parenting investment that each opposite sex member brings to an offspring (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This implies that the gender that offers more of her or his resources into parenting effectively becomes the more significant reproductive resource for the other. Typically, the male gender has been found out to be the lesser investing sex while females have been found to the higher investing gender (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This implies that the female gender being the better investing gender is in greater demand than the male gender.

5.1 Sex difference and the rate of reproduction

The rudimentary issue with regard to reproduction is biological, thus there is a limit to the number of offspring females and males can sire in their lifetime. The topmost boundary can only be determined by how quickly a gender can reproduce (Perilloux, Fleischman & Buss, 2011). For females this is dependent on the gestation period as well as the postpartum suckling duration. For males this is primarily determined by the number of feminine mates ready to take up reproduction (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). For any mating season, it is common to find that females will bear at least one offspring while the male that fends of competitors may have success to many females and thus bear more offspring. This is mostly the case with mammalian species.

5.2 Operational sex ratio

The OSR is a ratio for the number of active males to the number of active females in a particular population and relates closely with the reproduction rate. When the ratio is 1:1, then there are as many females as there are males (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). However, when the reproduction rate is taken into consideration the OSR appears skewed in the favor of males. This is because males have a high reproduction capacity as compared to women.  This implies that males have to compete for the available females thus the commonly witnessed rivalry over available mates of the opposite gender. However, for species with females having a high rate of reproduction such as it is with birds then it is the females that compete while the males choose which female to mate with (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). In some cases when the rate of reproduction is high then females tend to spend more time in rearing their young other than competing against one another for a mate.

5.3 Mate choice

There is a fundamental correlate in parental investment such that choosiness is critical in mate selection. Since females tend to invest much more in parenting than males then it is prudent to note that female choice occurs much more regularly than male choice. This is the case with some species such as in insects, birds, reptiles, fish and mammals (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

As is with many mammalian species, women spend much time and effort in parental investments and thus can become very choosy when embarking in male selection. Men on the other hand, tend to compete fiercely in mate selection which in some cases includes having multiple mates but they also invest a lot in parenting (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). For most mammals sexual relations are short lived, yet for men, paternal investments extend to the whole length of the marital relationship. It is important to note that among human beings, female to female completion, male to male competition, male choice and female choice exists (Robinson, et al, 2012). Evolution scholars have it that preferential mate selection, associated social cognitions, male and female behavioral tendencies are envisaged to have progressively evolved to emphasize on as well as exploit both the reproductive latency and reproductive investment of the opposite gender’s abilities (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

5.3 Women and mate selection

Evolutionary logic shows that women tend to be inclined to choose a mate has the most appropriate genes and one who is willing to have a long term relationship (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Reproductive potential is also critical for women’s mate selection process as well as a man’s ability to have the ability to offer paternal investments. Reproduction potential for men is greatly determined by the aptitude to become an appropriate father as well as the ability to critically invest in their children’s material and social resources (Elliot, et al, 2010). This is commonly gauged by a man’s resources with respect to cultural success such as social standing and control over available material resources.

5.4 The culturally successful man

Culturally successful men are considered more appropriate mates by women seeking to enter into marriage contract. This is because women are of the view that successful men in the cultural context have the resources needed to support a woman and her offspring. This implies that culturally endowed men have a higher reproduction potential compared to other men. According to the available data on marriage preferences, such men use their position to realize their own reproductive needs (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

For all the cultures that have been looked into by sociologists, the children sired by culturally successful father have a higher mortality rate compared to children from less culturally endowed men. Even for cultures with a low mortality rate the children of culturally successful men are better place to enjoy the benefits of psychological as well as physical heal and longevity (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This is believed to have been the basis for women’s evolutionary tendency to prefer socially dominant and culturally endowed men as their marriage partners.

In most cultures, women select their mate depending on influences as well as competing interests from their kin. For instance, among the Kipsigis in Kenya, the marriage partner for a young woman is chosen for her by her kin nevertheless the decision arrived at by her parents is heavily influenced by their daughters own preferences (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Among the Kipsigis, men hold on to land and women are attracted by those men with large tracts of land as this ensures food security, low child mortality and a respectable social status (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

In some instances, a woman’s preferred marriage partner and her eventual marriage partner differ since there is completion from other women as well as a man’s preferences. Such preferences ideally magnify the mate selection process as dictated by evolved psychological and social mechanisms which tend to dictate reproductive behaviors. Worldwide research on women mate selection tendencies supports the fact that they prefer mates who are culturally endowed or have the capacity to acquire wealth and social status (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

In a survey conducted involving over 100,000 people across 37 different cultures the world over showed that women prefer men with good financial prospects (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Some women indicated that industrious and ambitious men are preferred implying that this is pegged on men’s reproductive potential. However, with respect to age, some women indicated that they are more concerned with the level of education such that they prefer men who have a higher education than them. Others indicated that they prefer men who have better financial prospects than they do. This is especially the case for women aged from 20 to 60 years of age (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This implies a cost benefit exchange between a partner’s cultural status as well as other significant traits such as physical attractiveness. All in all a man’s cultural success is regarded by most women as a significant necessity in mate selection while other traits such as a mere luxury. In a study conducted in Hungary, consisting of women and men aged over thirty five provided results showing that women prefer to get married to older as well as more educated men (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Such marriage unions showed less divorce incidences and marital satisfaction. This further supported the fact that women feel that a man who is financially or culturally endowed provides her with psychological, social and reproductive satisfaction (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

5.5 Behavioral and Personal attributes

Women’s inclination towards opting for a mate with good cultural attributes is not always the most appropriate reproductive strategy as such men are known to have some characteristic attitudes such as self-serving and arrogant. As such these men are known be keen to pursue their own preferences as compared to other men and may have multiple mates in the course of their lifetime (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This implies that men’s behavioral and personal traits are considerations that women should also consider while in the process of mate selection. However, the bottom-line still stands that culturally endowed men are the most preferred mates for women looking for potential marriage partners.

Holding physical attractiveness and age constant, women tend to be keener on selecting their marriage partners compared to men (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Women are known to look into aspects such as emotional stability as well as a man’s family’s orientation when looking for suitable mate for marriage. Women have showed that they do look into issues such as understanding, kindness and intelligence in a man such that they would rather have such a man rather than be with a man who does not have such qualities but has the propensity to become culturally successful (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Women also favor men with whom they feel physically secure and are able to offer physical protection from other men when the need arises. Women also prefer to have marriage relationships with mates who they consider as being emotionally satisfying and intimate though this is not deemed a necessity but rather a luxury (McGee & Shevlin, 2009). In the progressive Western society, women in the upper and middle classes prefer such qualities in a man where intimacy and emotional satisfaction is deemed a necessity compared to women from non-western societies who are more concerned with their children’s welfare (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

5.6 Gene selection and physical attractiveness

In classical romance books, male heroes are more often than not wealthy, socially dominant and good looking. From a biological perspective this is a common occurrence as men with the appropriate features such as height, build, intelligence and health are more likely to bear offspring with similar physical characteristics (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). According to the available literature material, men with less symmetrical facial characteristics appear to be less attractive as well as being physically inactive and have tendencies to suffer from psychological and physical illnesses (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

There is evidence supporting the fact that women mate selection is influenced by factors such as a man’s immune system and gene pool. Immune-system genetics are actually signaled through chemicals known as pheromones which women are sensitive too and actually respond to the stimulus produced from these scents (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This is especially the case when a woman is in the fourteenth day of her menstrual cycle. This is a period in which a woman is very fertile for reproduction. It is important to note that superior quality men tend to exhibit correlated physical and pheromone related traits which ideally distinguish them from other men (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This effectively influences female choice in mate selection. .

There are studies that have shown that women tend to prefer men with different physical features depending on the state of their menstrual cycle such that a woman may prefer a man with prominent physical features during ovulation while in other times they are most likely to prefer men with feminine features (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). Research also indicates that pretty women would rather have a physically attractive man for life time marriage partner since they have the ability to distract these attractive men from social mating to parenthood.

In short, women’s tendencies to attract men are rather quite complex as this tends to vary with their menstrual cycle (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004). This implies that women tend to prefer men attractive genetic traits and physical traits which show a man’s ability to fend off people threatening her.

5.7 Men and their mating choices

As men are known to have marginally low levels of investment in a marriage relationship, they should also bear low standards for what can be termed as a short term relationship (Overbeek, Nelemans, Karremans & Engels, 2013). Men are however known to indulge in short term relations simply to realize their own ends. The truth of the matter is that these men from culturally successful backgrounds enter into short term relationships with women who are in fact looking for a long term relationship (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

5.7.1 Sexual fantasies and attitudes

There are wide variations with regard to sex more so attitudes reflecting masturbation and casual sex. Masturbation ideally indicates a degree of disparity in sexual appetite and sex partners. In a survey conducted, 80% of men are quite free with the prospect of casual sex than the average female. Nearly 86% of men are known to engage in masturbation more regularly than the average female (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).  Women on the other hand expressed more double standards and tend to suffer emotional stress as well as guilt in the instance they engage in casual sex compared to men. It is well known that men tend to have such a tendency towards casual sex by taking any chance when an opportunity presents itself (Cole, 2012). In the case where four men are asked to engage in casual sex, it is said that four out of five will readily engage in casual sex. On the other hand if asked to do the same no woman can freely agree. Men are also more likely to engage in sexual fantasies at least3 time more frequency as compared to women. As such the demand for prostitution is solely propagated by men’s need for casual sex. In the US, a prostitute can have casual sex with more than 700 men in a single year (Geary, Vigil & Byrd-Craven, 2004).

5.0 Mate selection in the 21st Century

In the 21st Century the meaning of dating expanded though it is important to note that researches arguable confounded the broadening of its definition. For instance it was construed to mean that couples were officially dating after their very first date, after entering into a short term relationship, when friendship developed into a more passionate relationship, when a couple was deemed to be in a long-term relationship or in the case where they regarded each other as boyfriend and girlfriend.

It is not only the meaning of dating that expanded but aspects such as cohabitation expanded such that it was not confined married couples only. In this age, cohabitation is simply a stage in the relationship of two mature persons who can consider themselves as dating, have invested in each other or committed to the relationship. As such sexual intimacy is a part of dating whether casual or not.

It is important to point out that sexual intimacy in this day and age is not limited to dating partners only; there are terms like having a hook up or benefits for being a friend. However as much as sex has be regarded as casual, there is a tendency for some sections of the society standing by premarital abstinence in favor of a more stable marital relationship. This in essence can be termed as a retro revolution getting back to the premarital discipline that was prevalent in the 1800’s as the fear of disease, unwanted pregnancies, ideologies or traditional values as to the true definition of love.

6.0 Socio economic standing and physical stature

According to Rosenfeld (2005), the status-caste exchange model does not necessarily make the prediction in the predominant multiracial marriages. The model suggests that it is common to find that one partner’s socioeconomic status is in most cases exchanged for racial caste status of the other partner. On examining black-white intermarriages, Rosenfeld (2005) observed at least three contradictory findings. Firstly, he observed that the socioeconomic inequalities among these two races tended to prove ambiguous the genuine status homogamy believed to typify interracial marriages. Secondly, the differences in gender among young partners have been continuously misconstrued to portray race specific exchange patterns. Lastly, empirical research findings purported to support the status-caste exchange model are not as conclusive as earlier believed (Rosenfeld, 2005).

In 1970, William Goode suggested that courtship processes were basically market oriented exchange systems. However, recent research finding as provided for by Becker (1991), theories of market exchange as well as utility-maximization models have increasingly shed more light on novel notions as to the economics of family units. As such, the so called marriage market assumptions have not been critically analyzed in the past.

One exchange theory suggested that male suitors with prestigious status and incomes ought to wed a female partner with surreal physical beauty. This theory was supposed to support the notion that such a marriage represented the exchange of the husband’s economic might for the wife’s beauty and youth (Batson, Qian & Litcher, 2006). Another exchange theory suggested that a man with superior skills in a particular labor market was envisaged to bond in marriage with a lady who exhibited wonderful domestic skills. The latter exchange theory fails to hold true in the contemporary society as more women are opting for better education for labor force oriented skills in significantly large numbers. The traditional nuclear family has thus lost its previous dominance in the contemporary American nuclear family life (Maffioli, Paterno & Gabrielli, 2013).

The third kind of exchange theory suggested that a white person with a marginally lower socioeconomic standing was more likely to marry a black person with a higher socioeconomic status. This translates that the white person will effectively be exchanging his or her racial caste status for the socioeconomic standing of the black person. According to Rosenfeld (2005), recent literature tends to support this theory with regard to interracial unions though he seeks to apply empirical research to suggest otherwise. He suggests that it is simply the educational hegemony that seeks to dominate marriage partners in mixed race marriages as opposed to status-caste exchange.

According to an article published in the American Journal of Sociology (Rosenfeld, 2005), the sociologists Kingsley Davis and Robert Merton first introduced the status-caste model in 1941 (Rosenfeld, 2005). Based on the Caste system upheld in India by members of Hindu faith, the two sociologists presented their theoretical arguments that it was similarly observable in marital mate selection in America. They argued that the white people were considered as the superior caste group while the black people were considered as the lower caste Americans (Li, et al, 2013). Merton provided that black people with considerably low socioeconomic standards had a very small chance of marrying into a union with white people with considerably high economic standing. However, Merton observed that there was a relatively high probability that black people with a high socioeconomic standing could be joined in marriage with white folk with a low socioeconomic standing. Merton observed that a union in marriage between economically endowed black people and low status white folk represented some form of informal exchange (Rosenfeld, 2005). The implication was that a black spouse with a high socioeconomic standing would comprehensively compensate his or her white spouse for having a sacrificed his or her social standing for conjoining a white person with black kinship sociologist (Rosenfeld, 2005).

Ethnographic research studies with regard to mixed race marriages in the US have sought to emphasize homogamy as well as solidarity between mixed race spouses as a key factor in male selection. As such, these studies have been overtly critical of the theory on status caste exchange as proposed by Merton and Davis (Rosenfeld, 2005).  Such criticism is supported by empirical evidence that status homogamy as witnessed between mixed race couples challenges the status-caste exchange model. This is because when both partners bear the same degree of education as well as social status the exchange proposed in 1941 cannot be feasible.

It is important to note that a lot of writers from diverse backgrounds have contributed much thought to the status exchange theory such that it provides the mirage that their findings are quite credible. In the United States, Black-White marriages represent a very small fraction (< 1%) of the married couple’s total population in the US. The fact that the marriage unions between black and white race Americans is so small, secondary forces affecting the status exchange theory get to be very challenging to separate from background noise. Racial endogamies as well as educational homogamy are fundamental forces in the marriage market. It is thus credible to regard the status exchange model as a potential secondary force which thus has to be subjected to further scrutiny to ascertain whether it is a nonzero factor in mate selection.

The available literature material has strongly validated the status-caste exchange theory and by extension has not whole heartedly denied the significance of status homogamy. There is an underlying fact that status and educational homogamy are such strong forces in determining mate selection that both cannot be practically proven otherwise. Rosenfeld (2005) argues in his journal article titled Exchange Theory in Male Selection supports the notion that status homogamy is a pivotal force in the so called marriage market. He however points out that the status-caste exchange model has a very low probability as a being a factor in male selection (Schwarz & Hassebrauck, 2012).

Rosenfeld (2005) provides that both Merton and Davis established the definition of hypergamy as female partners marrying up in the American caste system with hypogamy defining male partners marrying up. Thus black-white interracial marriages can either be a hypogamy or a hypergamy dependent on if the husband or wife is of the lower American caste. For gender-specific lingo, Rosenfeld (2005) applied the term status-caste exchange to refer to all interracial marriages between blacks and whites where the black race is assumed to bear the higher social status. It is important to note that in the Indian caste system, hypergamy is higher than hypogamy. In the American caste system, hypogamy is most common with black male being married to white women.

Rosenfeld (2005) chief reason for focusing on black-white interracial marriages is similar to the reasons held true by both Merton and Davis. In the American society, black-white interracial marriages are the most significant considering that the black-white disunion is not only the most enduring but also the deepest. Rosenfeld (2005) presents two hypotheses to challenge the status-caste exchange model. The first hypothesis provides that according the status-caste exchange model, black marriage partners tend to bear a stronger socioeconomic standing or are higher achievers compared to their white spouses (Schwarz & Hassebrauck, 2012). The second hypothesis is based on the notion that status homogamy provides that spouses married into mixed marriage unions have generally similar degree of socioeconomic status and achievements. In the event the that first hypothesis can be held true then there is the possibility that as racial boundaries continue to diminish as is evident in the contemporary American society then status-caste exchange is bound to decline considerably (Zhang, & Kline, 2009).

6.1 Can status monogamy be mistaken for status-caste exchange?

It is a dominant feature in the United States that the white people have an above average socioeconomic standing compared to the black people. It is thus possible that the socioeconomic standing of mixed race marriages whose spouses appear to have a near identical status seems from the common perspective of the two races (Skopek, Schulz & Blossfeld, 2011). In essence, an identical objective degree of socioeconomic standing may be regarded as low status compared to those of other white people but considered as being of high status when observed form the black people’s perspective. In what can be referred to as symbolic interracial coupling, both partners seemingly share the same socioeconomic standing yet it is critical to understand that their status is marginally below the median set by the white society status but above that provided for by black race status (Wood & Brumbaugh, 2009).

In America’s past, interracial marriages were taboo thus the social status distance between the two races. This presented Rosenfeld (2005) with the observation that the aura of inequality among the two races, homogamy can be readily mistaken for status-caste exchange.

6.2 Theoretical foundations supporting education homogamy

6.2.1 Individual utility maximization

Rosenfeld (2005) argues that instead of status-caste exchange, educational homogamy explains in a clear manner the educational patterns of interracial marriages between black and white folks. According to the individual utility maximization or exchange notion it is evident that each and every person aims to make the most possible exchange or bargain by selecting a mate with the best possible socioeconomic standing or greatest chance of improved future cash flows (McCrae, Willemsen & Boomsma, 2012). As such the above statement implies that homogamy results from the desire of individuals to make the best of the mate selection as it is evident that the man with the highest social status will most evidently mate with a woman of an equally high status (Skopek, Schulz & Blossfeld, 2011). It thus worthy to point out that people at the bottom of the socioeconomic order intermarry with each other as their option are minimal.

6.2.2 Affinity

Education universally implies that there are kind of tastes and specific lifestyles as well as cultural preferences which serve to distinctly define social circles which an outsider cannot be privy to (Zhang, & Kline, 2009). Dwelling on the assumption that marriage is much more than some unit for the division of labor or for maximizing profits but is also a bond where partners share robust bonds of unity, compassion and empathy then it is only conveniently natural for persons to seek mates with whom they experience the strongest personal affinity (Qian, Glick & Batson, 2012). The affinity model implies that adults with postgraduate education will in most cases marry as they prefer to be in each other’s companionship. A good example that is clearly visible in campuses is that an a young prolific assistant professor will appear attractive to ladies attending his lectures though he may be perceived as being boring unmanly or even pretentious to a woman with a lower level of education (Zhang, & Kline, 2009).

6.2.3 Exposure and propinquity

Education can be expressed as a model of reality being exposed to young learners in classrooms as well as campuses. As such, it can be viewed that the education system propagates educational homogamy through the grouping of young people together effectively limiting parental supervision (Zhang, & Kline, 2009). According to social theorists, social and personal networks are constructed around social structures such as education which either serve to divide the society or stratify it. One can thus conclusively postulate that college, campus and to a lesser degree high school experiences tend to create educational homogamy (Furnham, 2009). This not only is evident among classes of similarly educated youth but is quite distinct with regard to particular university campuses as well as classrooms. This however, does not conclusively imply that all mate selection is influenced by educational homogamy.

Research findings published by Rosenfeld (2005) have established that interracial marriage partners have always held to status levels that are similar even prior to the 1950’s when racial boundaries in America were impervious to mixed race marriages. It is important to point out that contemporary literature based on empirical evidence endorsing the status-caste exchange model has solely relied on the demographic data provided with regard to young married couples (Lewis, 2012). As much as the entire demography of all married people reveals no evidence of status-caste exchange but the statistical data from younger married couples does indeed exhibit a small but then again distinctive advantage for educated black mates (Sassler, 2010). The educational advantage is in favors interracially married blacks rather than white folks. The perceived educational difference occurring among young married couples is construed to be evidence for the model that is status-exchange theory but it actually signifies that most of these married couples are still enrolling in the educational system.


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