All you need is money or power, the notion goes, and beautiful lovers present themselves to you for the taking.
When Homer Simpson once came into a pound surfeit of sugar, his id instinct was to turn it into fortune and sexual prosperity. University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth McClintock has done exhaustive research on the idea of people exchanging traits. Her work was published last month in American Sociological Review, looking at data from 1, couples in various stages of relationships, including dating, cohabiting, and married.
The dominant force in mating is matching. What appears to be an exchange of beauty for socioeconomic status is often actually not an exchange, McClintock wrote, but a series of matched virtues.
Economically successful women partner with economically successful men, and physically attractive women partner with physically attractive men. If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl. Rather, hearteningly, fo really are looking for At least partly because physically attractive individuals are treated preferentially by the world at large, they enjoy improved school performance, greater occupational success, and higher earnings.
So these variables can be hard to isolate. McClintock has also found that the pervasive tendency toward rating higher-status people as more attractive seems to perpetuate itself. It creates this self-affirming circle where we never even stop to ask if we perceive the man as good-looking.
In so doing, scientists misidentify matching as exchange. Women are as shallow as men when it comes to appearance, and they should focus on their own accomplishments.
But in this case, no love is lost.