Evolutionary theories of partner selection suggest that whereas men look for partners with signs of youth and fertility, women seek out partners who will be good providers (i.e., males with status, power, and/or wealth).1 So, what’s a guy to do if he finds himself lacking when it comes to these highly sought-after characteristics? Employ deception!
In an attempt to protect the not-so-innocent I will leave out names, but writing this post reminded of a “friend” who used to pick up women by giving them his phone number on the back of an ATM receipt. More to the point, he didn’t use his own ATM slips, but those of his significantly older and much wealthier uncle. I can’t say that I’m proud of the company that I’ve kept, but I will say that as a relationships researcher, I was astounded by this man’s astute knowledge of evolutionary psychology and how to utilize deceptive strategies to optimize his desirability to members of the opposite sex.2 True, his behavior was shameful, and I am not suggesting that any male readers borrow this approach, but I began thinking that from a strictly evolutionary psychology standpoint, he may be an evil genius!
In an earlier post, we learned that flaunting luxury items maximizes a male’s success at securing short-term partners.3 This leads me to believe that there are many other crafty (but impoverished) Casanovas in pursuit of “hook-ups” and as a result, a vast array of other deceptive strategies being employed to manipulate the dating arena. For instance, studies have shown that the perceived attractiveness of males can be influenced by the insinuation of ownership of high-status items. In one study, men were rated as more attractive when standing in front of an expensive car (believed to be theirs) as compared to when standing in front of a less expensive car.4 Just as an aside, if you find the thought of choosing a mate based on material possessions distasteful, you’re probably more interested in a long-term partner. Take comfort in the knowledge that the falsified airs of those seeking short-term gratification will have little impact on your partner selection preferences. However, if you’re smitten by the fancy car and stylish clothes, you might want to verify that they actually belong to your new crush!
1Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1-49.
2Tooke, W., & Camire, L. (1991). Patterns of deception in intersexual and intrasexual mating strategies. Ethology and Sociobiology, 12, 345-364.
3Sundie, J. M., Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Vohs, K. D., & Beal, D. J. (2011). Peacocks, Porsches, and Thorstein Veblen: Conspicuous consumption as a sexual signaling system. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 664-680.
4Shuler, G. A., & McCord, D. M. (2010). Determinants of male attractiveness: “Hotness” ratings as a function of perceived resources. American Journal of Psychological Research, 6, 10-23.
Dr. Sadie Leder - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Leder's research focuses on how people balance their desires for closeness and protection against rejection, specifically during partner selection, goal negotiation within established romantic relationships, and the experience of romantic love, hurt feelings, and relationship rekindling.