"Financially independent and ambitious" females seeking males on the internet for friendship and possibly more are much more popular than their "attractive and slim" rivals, according to researchers in the US.
In a study of "female seeks male" lonely hearts ads posted on internet bulletin boards, Donald Strassberg and his colleagues in the department of psychology at the University of Utah found to their surprise that a fictitious ad they had written describing a woman as "financially independent, successful and ambitious" elicited over 50 per cent more responses from interested men than another ad they had posted describing a "lovely, very attractive and slim" woman. The adverts did not contain pictures of the women described.
Professor Strassberg told The THES: "We were surprised to find that men were far more responsive to the ad describing a financially independent woman than to the one advertising an attractive woman."
Previous studies conducted on naturally occurring "female seeks male" ads had almost always found that men valued women's youth and physical attractiveness over their socioeconomic status. This is consistent with evolutionary explanations of mating strategiesthat say that men have evolved to be sexually responsive to younger women who would have a greater reproductive value.
Professor Strassberg doubted that the results obtained in his study indicated a major change in the attributes men seek in a mate. "After all, it is men we are talking about," he said. Rather, he suspected that since the advertisements, to which more than 500 men responded, were placed on internet bulletin boards they had reached a more technically minded audience. He suggested there was a subgroup of men for whom physical attractiveness was not the most important asset.
These findings are published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.