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Study: People Seek Partners Better Than Themselves

Study: People Seek Partners Better Than Themselves


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ALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- People seeking romantic partners don't want someone merely as good as themselves -- they want someone better.

And that is particularly the case with women, according to a study by Steven Clark, a psychologist and assistant professor of behavioral science at Utah Valley State College, and senior assistant Adam Dover.

They found that even though men and women rate themselves favorably in what they perceive members of the opposite sex want in a romantic partner, they still seek relationships with someone better than themselves.

"Men want someone who is better than they are in a few areas, and women want partners who are better than they are in a lot of areas," Clark said.

"But what is unique is that men and women do not seem to be that different" in rating themselves, he said.

The researchers questioned 53 men and 86 women over a nine-month period, asking each to rate themselves on attributes on traits.

Those were a sense of humor, honesty, socio-economic status, caring nature, educational attainment, weight, religion, ability to forgive, attractiveness, patience, expected income, work effort, emotional stability, dependability, ambition, communication and social skills, hygiene and cleanliness, intelligence and status of occupation.

Men want romantic partners who are better than they are in five of the 19 traits, while women seek partners they perceive to be better in 15 of the 19 attributes.

"Women have much higher standards, and if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, they have a greater investment in child bearing," Clark said. "That would probably make them more conservative, involved and selective."

Both men and women desire long-term mates who manifest mutual love, a dependable character, a pleasant disposition and emotional stability.

The findings were presented recently to the American Psychological Society in Atlanta.

Those surveyed generally think they compare favorably with their same-sex peers, said Clark, adding that the findings are consistent with our individualist culture.

"In terms of driving skills, intelligence and attractiveness, most Americans rate themselves well above average on everything," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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