Effects of attractiveness and social status on dating desire in heterosexual adolescents: An experimental study

  • Ha T
  • Overbeek G
  • Engels R
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Abstract

The present study examined to what extent adolescent dating desire is based on attractiveness and social status of a potential short-term partner. Further, we tested whether self-perceived mate value moderated the relationship between dating desire and attractiveness of a potential partner. Data were used from a sample of 1,913 adolescents aged 13-18. Participants rated the importance of various characteristics of a potential partner and also participated in an experimental vignette study in which dating desire was measured with either low or high attractive potential partners having either a high or low social status. The results showed that boys rated attractiveness as more important than girls, while social status was rated as relatively unimportant by both sexes. In addition, in the experimental vignette study, it was found that attractiveness was the primary factor for boys' dating desire. Only when a potential partner was attractive, social status became important for boys' dating desire. For girls, on the other hand, it appeared that both attractiveness and social status of a potential partner were important for their dating desire. Finally, boys and girls who perceived themselves as having a high mate value showed more dating desire toward an attractive potential partner compared to adolescents who perceived themselves as having a low mate value. The present results extend previous research by showing that attractiveness of a potential partner is important to both adolescent boys and girls, but social status does not strongly affect dating desire during this particular age period.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Attractiveness
  • Dating desire
  • Sexual strategies theory
  • Status

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Authors

  • Thao HaArizona State University

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  • Geertjan Overbeek

  • Rutger C M E Engels

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