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October 19, 2017  
FIBROIDS1 NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Women Hardwired to Judge Potential Mates

    Women Hardwired to Judge Potential Mates by Men’s Faces

    July 06, 2006

    By: Jean Johnson for Fibroids1

    If “just one look is all it took,” Motown had it right. Just one look does seem to be all it takes when it comes to women sizing men up by the look on their faces. Whether for future partners in child rearing or simply a fling, recent research confirms what old wives have told us for ages: In that first glance there is much telling.
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    Picking a Partner Beyond Face Value:

    The following information is adapted from a Rutgers University posting of 10 tips from the National Marriage Project.

    1. Marrying as a teenager is the highest known risk factor for divorce.

    2. The most likely way to find a future marriage partner is through an introduction by family, friends, or acquaintances.

    3. The more similar people are in their values, backgrounds and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage.

    4. Women have a significantly better chance of marrying if they do not become single parents before marrying.

    5. Both women and men who are college educated are more likely to marry, and less likely to divorce, than people with lower levels of education.

    6. Living together before marriage has not proved useful as a "trial marriage." People who have multiple cohabiting relationships before marriage are more likely to experience marital conflict, marital unhappiness and eventual divorce than people who do not cohabit before marriage.

    7. Marriage helps people to generate income and wealth. Compared to those who merely live together, people who marry become economically better off.

    8. People who are married are more likely to have emotionally and physically satisfying sex lives than single people or those who just live together.

    9. People who grow up in a family broken by divorce are slightly less likely to marry, and much more likely to divorce when they do marry. According to one study the divorce risk nearly triples if one marries someone who also comes from a broken home.

    10. For large segments of the population, the risk of divorce is far below 50 percent: the risk is far below 50 percent for educated people going into their first marriage, and lower still for people who wait to marry at least until their mid-twenties, haven't lived with many different partners prior to marriage, or are strongly religious and marry someone of the same faith.

    Research orchestrated by a team of professors and graduate students at the University of Chicago and the University of California at Santa Barbara has people sitting up and paying attention. While they are not sure exactly what there is about men’s faces that tip women off, they did write that “women’s ability to estimate men’s interest in infants from face photographs is perhaps the most novel finding to emerge from the study.”

    More, team member James Roney, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara and lead author, said in a University of Chicago press release, “The research suggests that men’s interest in children may be a relatively underappreciated influence on men’s long-term mate attractiveness.”

    “Reading Men’s Faces: Women’s Mate Attractiveness Judgments Track Men’s Testosterone and Interest in Infants,” was published in the May 2006 issue of the British scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

    The organization of the study showed considerable creativity and cleverness. The research team showed 39 men at the University of Chicago – ages 18 to 33 – a pair of pictures, one of an adult and the other of a baby to determine which men were more interested in fatherhood. Then they collected saliva samples from the participants to measure each man’s testosterone level as a measure of their masculinity. Finally, they photographed each of the males, asking them to maintain a neutral expression.

    Researchers then framed the photos uniformly and showed them to 29 women ages 18 to 20 at the University of California at Santa Barbara. They asked the women to rate the men on four attributes: Likes children, masculine, physically attractive and kind. The women were also asked to rate the men in terms of attractiveness for marriage and parenting or based on desirability for a short-term romance.

    Researcher and associate professor in comparative human development at the University of Chicago, Dario Maestripieri, Ph.D., told the BBC that “Our results show that women are surprisingly accurate in judging a man’s masculinity and his interest in infants by looking at his face. Our results also show that women value masculinity as a desirable trait for short-term relationships and interest in infants as a desirable trait for more stable long-term relationships.”

    That said, Maestripieri cautioned against assuming that it’s women’s intuition at work. “I don’t think that evolution has given women a second sense in this area, but has made them very good at using every piece of information at their disposal when making decisions about mating and relationships.”

    How the women were able to draw their conclusions is not clear according to the research team. Speaking to the Associated Press, Maestripieri thought “a more rounded face, a gentle face” might be a tip off on good daddy prospects, while Roney guessed it might be more in the area of the general expressions on the men’s faces.

    The research also suggested that a prominent jaw and heavy beard might convey high testosterone levels and thus masculine prowess sought for in a sexual fling. Whatever the case, though, the message is that women are apparently hardwired to identify potential mates by just one look.

    Barbara Robertson of Alta Loma, Calif. married her husband 13 years ago and now has two children. We asked her how she got together with her husband and if any of the findings presented in this study correlated with her experience.

    “I didn’t really think of it like what they are saying at the time,” said Robertson. “But I suppose there was something in the way he looked. He does have a gentle look on his face even today, and I suppose that somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that he’d make a good father to our children.

    “And he has. Since I teach school and take a night class now and then, we really have worked together raising the kids. He’s sweet to them and involved and cares. Whether I could tell all that by looking at his face when I met him, I can’t say. But that’s how it’s turned out.”

    Robertson stops talking for a moment to say goodbye to her husband and children on their way out to the park. “Another thing I’d add is that my husband is not overbearing like I imagine men that tested high for testosterone might be. He treats me and other women as nicely as he does the children. We have an equal partnership in our marriage, and we both share in the decision-making. So it’s not like there’s a man around here lording it over everyone. That more than anything is what I am so grateful for because my mother had to put up with a lot from my father who wasn’t that great with us kids either.”

    Last updated: 06-Jul-06


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