How do we choose our partner? What kind of people attract us? We are always curious about how do we choose Mr. or Miss right for ourselves. Let’s analyze the mate selection process from physiological, psychological and hormonal perspectives.
We choose our partner based on physical appearance, psychological personality, and hormonal personality.
Facial symmetry is an important factor for initial attraction. We somehow find those faces more attractive which are more symmetrical. One explanation of this could be that evolutionarily symmetrical faces represents health whereas; asymmetrical faces signals past illness or injury. After facial symmetry other facial features differ for males and females. Females with thin eye brows, wide-set eyes, fuller lips, narrow jaw and round chin are considered more attractive whereas, males with broad forehead, thick eye brows, chiseled jaw and prominent cheek bones are considered more attractive. Men with low waist-to-chest ratio, thin waist, flat belly and broad chest and shoulders are considered more attractive. Whereas; women with small waist to hip ratio are considered more attractive.
Psychological personality (Similarity or Complementarity)
“Opposites attract” has been a popular phrase but studies have consistently found support for the similarity-attraction hypothesis. People are attracted to those individuals who are similar in, socio-economic background, level of education, IQ, political and religious attitudes and personality such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience. In contrast, support for the complementarity hypothesis is much scarcer. Sometimes people are attracted to individuals who are different or opposite to them but often it does not develop into serious intimate relationships.
Studies have shown that both males and females prefer partners who are more similar to them in personality. Men tend to prefer partners who are less neurotic, more extraverted, more open, more agreeable, but less conscientious than they are themselves. Women‘s ideal partners are less neurotic, more extravert, more open, and more agreeable than they are themselves. This shows that individuals look for partners who are similar to them but at the same time have more positive traits than them. We look for partners who are slightly better than us.
Apart from personality characteristics, men value high intelligence and high attractiveness more in an ideal mate, whereas women value similarity of attitudes and sense of humor in an ideal mate more. Women also set high standards for mate and are more selective especially they look for a mate who is more extraverted, more agreeable, and less neurotic. These characteristics represents social dominance and nurturing which are important from an evolutionary point of view in upbringing and providing for the offspring.
According to anthropologist Professor Helen Fisher Four different hormones – dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, estrogen- corresponds to four types of hormonal personality termed as explorers, builders, directors, and negotiators. Let’s examine each personality type separately.
These people are driven by hormone dopamine, they are adventurous, novelty seekers, impulsive, energetic and enthusiastic. They are intellectually curious, mentally flexible, and creative. They lack introspection and tend to look out rather than in.
These people are driven by hormone serotonin, and are cautious, sociable and friendly. They follow rules and regulations and social norms. They respect authority and adhere to plans. These people are conscientious, like precision and have self-control.
These people are driven by hormone testosterone, and are self-confident and assertive. They have good visual-spatial perception and understanding of rule-based system like computers, mathematics, engineering and music. They have poor emotion recognition, empathy, and are less socially aware but are sensitive to rank.
These people are driven by hormones estrogen and oxytocin. They are agreeable, cooperative, empathetic, trust worthy, generous, intuitive and nurturing. These are prosocial people with the ability to read emotions and thoughts of other people.
Three compatibility themes emerged from these four personality types
Explorers are attracted to explorers
Builders are attracted to builders
Directors are attracted to negotiators
Explorer – Explorer compatibility
Explorers are adventurous, novelty seeking, impulsive and energetic which makes them a fun loving couple. They don’t like to follow schedules or rules and regulations therefore they will be less fussy about it. They are optimist and flexible which enables them to go through tough times with high spirits.
Builder – Builder compatibility
Builders are precise, calm, sociable and civic minded. Therefore they can develop social network and build community together. They are loyal, patient, devoted, persistent and traditional which can help them in achieving domestic stability by overlooking their differences.
Director – Negotiator compatibility
Negotiators are good at looking at the big picture whereas, directors are meticulous about details so they can make good decisions with the ability to look it from all angles and being decisive. Directors can utilize negotiators empathy and social skills whereas, negotiators can utilize director’s goal oriented focus. They have complimentary traits like directors are logical while negotiators are intuitive but if they put these complimentary traits to work together they can make a good team.
In short we choose our partners based on:
Physical attractiveness with respect to facial symmetry, facial features, hip to waist ratio and chest to waist ratio.
Psychological personality based on similarity rather than complementarity. We want partners who are slightly better than us in extraversion, agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness.
Hormonal personality based on hormonal profiles of curious/energetic dopamine driven explorers, cautious/social serotonin driven builders, analytical/tough minded testosterone driven directors and prosocial/empathetic oxytocin and estrogen driven negotiators.