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Meet the parents: Parent-offspring convergence and divergence in mate preferences.

While Louise certainly values all of the characteristics I listed above, not once did we say, “This guy seems like he has a great sense of humor,” or, “This man has very kind features.” We only stopped to further investigate the profiles of men who seemed physically attractive. However, consciously ranking traits as more or less important may not reflect the way we make our real-life dating and mating decisions. A few months ago I sat down with my friend Louise* while she scanned online dating profiles. Consider the characteristics that are often considered desirable in a mate—a sense of humor, intelligence, kindness, understanding, a family orientation, good looks. Mate preferences in the US and Singapore: A cross-cultural test of the mate preference priority model. Which would you rank as most important in a romantic partner? Research consistently shows that we rank most or all of these traits as more important than good looks (Apostolou, 2011; Apostolou, 2015; Buss et al., 2001; Perilloux et al., 2011). Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 291-294.

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Men (both gay and straight) seem to consciously recognize the importance of physical attractiveness more than women (both straight and lesbian; see Lippa, 2007).