On Mismatches Between Couples: Why Do We Sometimes See Physically Attractive Girls With Average Or Unattractive Male Partners?

She's Out of My League (2010)

She’s Out of My League (2010)

This partially contradicts part of my thesis, for those who have previously followed some of my previous posts, with my own online experiments and my compilation of meta-analysis. Most of the empirical and theoretical evidence establishes that females are more selective in all their mating considerations. Where female sexual choices will always tend towards small male breeding populations. In more colloquial terms, what this means is that male/female ‘leagues’ are asymmetrical, with male ‘rank’ being bottom heavy in distribution, while female ‘rank’ being top heavy.

The problem with these ‘leagues’ is that they are asymmetrical (meaning that there is a higher probability of a female attracting any given statistical subset of ranked males, than the reverse), rendering a disproportionate scarcity of receptive females for lower ranked males in mating leks (i.e.  nightclubs/bars, online dating sites, speed dating events)

So I’m thinking about writing a future post where I could address this disassortative mating issue. According the online dating & speed dating data, mainly we will see conventionally men dating less attractive female partners, frequently, irrespective of independent status indicators. And cases of the reverse dynamic would be vanishingly rare. Then, which are the specific reasons for this kind of couple mismatches, being female partner more beautiful than their boyfriends? My intuition tells me that most of this type of romantic pairings are arising out of mating leks context. But I’ll leave that speculation for upcoming posts.

Do equity considerations influence observers’ impressions of a romantic couples? In the present post, I collected some mismatch young couples drawn from social networks, where a mate value discrepancy occurs because, from my own perception, there is a mismatch in the value of mates between partners (average-looking guys having a romantic relationship with attractive women.)

In order to research this notion, I need to test this possibility by examining the readers’ impressions of these romantic partners who are mismatched in physical attractiveness (female partner will be more physically attractive than her male partner). In this situation, observers instinctually categorize the opposite-sex member of the couple as a potential mate and the same-sex member of the couple as a competitor for the potential mate’s affection.

I would wish to ask my readers their assessment for each individual on physical attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not attractive and 5 being very attractive. I need to verify that the female mate is more attractive than her current male partner. Blog readers are going to view photos of dating couples. So I would be grateful if you could rate these individuals on physical attractiveness.

In upcoming essays I will examine this matching dynamic in an future experiment in the context of online dating (okcupid site). I’ll create male dummy profiles using the pictures of these guys . I hypothesize that these average-looking men will get a very low success rate (both in number of interested contacts and  the physical quality of them, far below their real girlfriends) in the online dating context.

I would appreciate your ratings. Thanks.

Couple A

 

Couple A

Couple A

Female partner A

Female partner A

 

Male partner A

Male partner A

Couple B

Couple B

Couple B

Female partner B

Female partner B

Male partner B

Male partner B

Couple C

Couple C

Couple C

Female partner C

Female partner C

Male partner C

Male partner C

Couple D

FotorCreateddd

Female partner D

Female partner D

Male partner D

Male partner D

Couple E

Couple E

Couple E

Female partner E

Female partner E

Male partner E

Male partner E

Couple F

 

Couple F

Couple F

Female partner F

Female partner F

Male partner F

Male partner F

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27 Responses to On Mismatches Between Couples: Why Do We Sometimes See Physically Attractive Girls With Average Or Unattractive Male Partners?

  1. The Cockroach says:

    You might find this interesting:

    http://tinderrage.blogspot.ca/

  2. chris says:

    You might find this study interesting.

    Mate preferences do predict attraction and choices in the early stages of mate selection.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23915041

    It looks as the apparent contradicition between standard theory on sex differences in human long term mating in evolutionary psychology and choices in partners at speed dating events.

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      I’d say that many cognitive biases can be manipulated by spurious stimuli, so I would think it is possible. And, I think that speed dating studies are speaking to just such an effect, in that speed dating manipulates the normal parameters of courtship (ie. selective interactions), sufficiently to ‘confuse’ our perceptions.

      The way this works, is I think that people are misinterpreting courteous body language(like smiling, etc.) as genuine signals of interest. I think the confusion happens because speed-dating precludes selective interactions which would normally *limit* spurious signals of interest, keeping them to a minimum(ie. that courtship interactions imply genuine interest is generally a justified assumption in other contexts).

  3. Random says:

    I would just like to add that males rating other males (even if they are gay) results in huge errors most of the time. Females can how attractive are other females AND males, this is why they are used in most studies that involve rating men and women. Men on the other hand (even gay ones) can’t rate the attractiveness of other males in the eyes of women. Mostly they rate how “cute” they are , assessing masculine features as “ugly” and many, many other biases. If you want valid results, only let females rate other men and women , and if possible collect data about their own appearance (the female rater).

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      In overall, men and women assess the attractiveness of particular faces very similarly [ILIFFE 1960, UDRY 1965, ZEBROWITZ et al. 1993]. Women prefer more feminized faces of both women and men than men do [RHODES et al. 2000].

  4. Random says:

    Forgot to add, these differences are not necessarely because of cognitive biases from men. Even plastic surgeons and men who read about male aesthetics have trouble rating male faces and have frequent errors. For example the last guy is rated a 3 , but he is good looking (ask females).

    Only the female brain can accurately asses the attractivenss of a male face (and in the eyes of other women) (and even then there are errors because of “types”)

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      The last guy, labelled as F, was rated on here with a 3.47 score on this 1-5 scale. In on a more conventional 1-10 scale he would be rated as 6.93. The highest of these men. So If we divide the ratings into five equal categories (high, medium-high, medium, med-low, and low), the male F would be considered as medium-high in attractiveness.

      Anyway, keep in mind that these pictures have been judged (judgments of male readers) based on facial appearance. But male body attractiveness cues (muscularity/athletic build) are a cue that can not be tested through observing these images. Note that women rate muscular men as sexier. Consistent with the inverted-U hypothesis of masculine traits, men with moderate muscularity are rated most attractive.

      All these individuals were taken from real facebook profiles. So take a look at this shirtless picture of the male F to assess his upper body:

      225387 1033612833164 8727 n
      subir imagenes gratis

      I doubt that any woman would rate his body as attractive or sexy.

      Moreover, I think a legitimate grievance of many of my observations, is that for those who are not above 8, the mating system seems hopeless disassortative (ie. it becomes almost a lottery in order to find a receptive female equivalent, in terms of physical characteristics).

      Anyhow I’d wait for my next post, where we will test the mating success of each of these males through an online dating experiment.

  5. Jimi says:

    I know this is a terribly late reply (I posted this under the wrong topic previously, so it’s not quite that old).

    One very important thing that’s missing when evaluating pictures is how the females look naked.

    A neighbor of mine had been showing some obvious interest in me but something wasn’t quite adding up. At first glance my thoughts were that she was way out of my league. She had a really attractive face and what seemed like a tight body. She was living with a man so I wasn’t going to try anything but I was going over the whole thing in my head thinking there has to be something I’m not seeing in all of this as I’m no high status, movie star or anything.

    Then I saw it. I noticed when she was wearing spandex she had a saggy ass. While I would have absolutely no problem fucking this woman everything began to make sense. She had a great face, skin, dressed well, but that one flaw was the reason she showed more obvious interest in me than other women that I’d rate as equally attractive. She was very good at hiding it, even while wearing short, shorts.

    They’d hang down right at the bottom of her cheeks so you could see her nice, long legs but nothing higher. When she wore tight jeans you couldn’t tell because they were essentially lifting the cheeks. I witnessed something similar at a jazz concert. I saw a guy I’d consider below average, at least in the face, with a woman who was pretty cute. Then I spotted her ass. It was sloppy and a bit misshapen. All these things matter, not just a face with clothes covering up the body.

  6. thegreatshebang says:

    I think your poll online here has a challenge: the majority of your readers are men and they will tend to over-rate the women and under-rate the men. It’s a possible bias, IMHO.

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      It’s the opposite. Regarding to gender differences in ratings, male faces are assessed more highly by men than women, and female faces are assessed equally by men and women [CROSS and CROSS 1971, HUME and MONTGOMERIE 2001, FISHER 2004]. So we might expect that with female judges the ratings of these girls had been higher than the current one. However, photo ratings for these guys would be similar.

      • thegreatshebang says:

        Thanks for all the updates and replies to your poll. There’s a lot to consider. I reread everything and still may consider that a poll online has self-selection bias among the respondents, particularly if the respondent number is low. But it is probably negligible. I concede that. I will look up your studies and rely on them. And I look forward to the continued polls and online study.

        New point: This relates to your argument for the lottery for men rated under 8. For both men and women, there is a search cost to meet new people. You need to meet a lot of new people to find a mate at your same attractiveness level AND that meets all other requirements (social, language, accent, status, manners, religion, etc.) Even in bars in an urban environment, it takes a lot of time. Women can’t search forever during their peak fertility window. Nor can they cross certain social and class barriers without cost. This may explain some mismatch in attractiveness levels. To say they “settle” is cliche; to say they consider the cost vs risk of continued searching is appropriate.

  7. thegreatshebang says:

    Thanks for your excellent recent comments at the rational male blog. They were well expressed, fair and helpful.

  8. sirtyrionlannister says:

    @ Thegreatshebang,

    ”Thanks for all the updates and replies to your poll. There’s a lot to consider. I reread everything and still may consider that a poll online has self-selection bias among the respondents, particularly if the respondent number is low. But it is probably negligible. I concede that. I will look up your studies and rely on them. And I look forward to the continued polls and online study”.

    I appreciate your interest. You’re right. In this poll, each portrait was evaluated by a low number of respondents, which is decreasing our confidence in the measure’s reliability. Fortunately, my main proposal was not to seek for a great validity and reliability of these appearance ratings. I wanted to obtain ratings and subsequently investigated with them within online dating websites.

    ”New point: This relates to your argument for the lottery for men rated under 8. For both men and women, there is a search cost to meet new people. You need to meet a lot of new people to find a mate at your same attractiveness level AND that meets all other requirements (social, language, accent, status, manners, religion, etc.) Even in bars in an urban environment, it takes a lot of time. Women can’t search forever during their peak fertility window. Nor can they cross certain social and class barriers without cost. This may explain some mismatch in attractiveness levels. To say they “settle” is cliche; to say they consider the cost vs risk of continued searching is appropriate.” .

    The fact that females are the (reproductively) rate-limiting sex has always manifested in their higher selectivity. And preference function could be defined as propensity of women to mate with certain phenotypes. Patterns of mate choices can be altered by changing the costs of choosiness without altering the preference function. But the limiting sex is generally not assumed to suffer from lack of potential mates, mainly in human mating leks where sex ratios are male-biased (i.e. nightclubs/bars, dating websites). If females choose the best male that they can easily observe—i.e. one within a fixed distance—then this corresponds to a larger n in a best-of-n rule if density is high; as a consequence, the mating skew is much more pronounced at high population densities. In other words, my hypothesis is that in cases outside mating leks—such as family, friends, and work (narrower spectrum of male mate phenotype—less attractive men—at lower population density—neighbourhood, rural areas, and small towns—), some females can be less choosy, becomes less selective. And moreover maybe the presence of a trusted broker (e.g., friend, family member) may also undermine the quality of matches made within their social circles by some of these pretty girls.

  9. myg says:

    Except for couple E, I don’t find the females to be out of the leagues of the males. Sure, you could say that they are slightly better looking than those guys, but ever so slightly, certainly not 2 or more points higher. They look pretty well matched in my opinion. And those guys are not exactly “average” for Americans (assuming they’re Americans). Most Americans, where I am anyway, are obese. The fact that these guys aren’t obese, and aren’t old, puts them above average here in the States.

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      “Except for couple E, I don’t find the females to be out of the leagues of the males. Sure, you could say that they are slightly better looking than those guys, but ever so slightly, certainly not 2 or more points higher. They look pretty well matched in my opinion.”

      I disagree. Except for the couple B, the beauty gap are ranging from 1.87 to 3.8, which I think are a noteworthy attractiveness gaps. And yes, and the problem with these ‘leagues’ is that they are asymmetrical (meaning that there is a higher probability of a female attracting any given statistical subset of ranked males, than the reverse), rendering a disproportionate scarcity of receptive females for lower ranked males.

      “And those guys are not exactly “average” for Americans (assuming they’re Americans).”

      They’re not americans, they are from southern europe.

      “Most Americans, where I am anyway, are obese. The fact that these guys aren’t obese, and aren’t old, puts them above average here in the States.”

      29 % of US obese men into the 20-39 age-group is a high proportion, but not a majority. And the percentage of obese women is higher (31.8%).

      I live in Europe and here, it is easy to observe as these male types (i.e. men with average face and thin body) going for overweight women, frequently, irrespective of independent status indicators. Of course, cases of the reverse dynamic are vanishingly rare. To these men, it would almost screams an ultimatum, go fat or go home (which, I’m sure would suit many western women just fine, freeing them to waddle after their ‘choice’ athletic hunks). I made a great effort looking at many facebook profiles and digging over a lot of social networks to find these examples of mismatched couples (attractive girl vs average joe).

  10. suso says:

    Its me or all of them are spaniards.

  11. below_average_joe says:

    I’m in a visibly mismatched relationship so I thought I might offer some words of encouragement to guys that are struggling.

    First the backstory:
    A) On the down side I’m very unattractive. I’m the opposite of handsome. Don’t look at me directly. On the plus side I’m a couple of inches taller than Golem from LOTR.

    B) My wife is a natural beauty. No makeup needed, she wakes up hot. She is thin, curvy and highly attractive. She is shorter than me which I like. If all women had amazing breasts like my wife has breast implants wouldn’t exist. Very few men have a wife or girlfriend that is more attractive than mine. This includes men with substantial wealth.

    Get out your notepad because I’m going to bullet point the recipe to bake this cake. There could be other recipes but this is the one that worked for me.

    1) First let’s be honest. If you look like me you can’t pick up women. You will get shot down 100 out of 100 times. Online dating? Haha! If you’re short like I am you’ll fail every woman’s height requirement, plus one look at my face and it’s over.

    2) Since you can’t use aesthetics to succeed fast, you have to find a way to succeed slowly. You’ll need lots of time to melt a girl’s heart. It is imperative that you get into her proximity and clock in some hours. From a practical standpoint that means fishing from your friend group or other social group. This works great in college.

    3) You can’t skip this critical step. You must already be or become a popular, respected member of your group. Social confirmation provides group members, orbiters and outsiders evidence that you are somebody worth knowing. Social confirmation allows you to bypass her natural instinct to shut down and reject a guy that looks like you.

    4) Good job, you’re in your friend group standing adjacent to a stunningly beautiful woman that enjoys chatting it up with you. The first thing you should do is tell her how you feel right? WRONG! Share your best witticisms and move on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Maybe ignore her a bit. Don’t act needy or interested or you’re dead. Super dead. Maybe humiliated or worse.

    5) Slowly but surely ratchet it up. This may take hours, days, weeks or months depending on your circumstances. Give her a little more to chew on but stay cool like Fonzi. Be aloof. She knows that lots of cool people like you and she is simply one of the many friends you converse with.

    6) When you think the time is right find an excuse to share a space with her. Study together, watch a movie, hang out or whatever. It doesn’t matter what you pick and it’s not a “date.”

    7) Once she is willing to take step 6 you’ve done most of the hard work. On some level she finds you endearing. If you’re hitting the Netflix and it feels right MAYBE put your arm around her. If you’re studying together on the floor and it feels right MAYBE bump up against her. You don’t have to push it at this point. You’ve probably already won.

    8) Do this a time or two more and play the rest by ear. You’ve put in enough hours and your magnetic personality has won her over. She wouldn’t keep meeting up if she didn’t like you. Mission accomplished.

    9) If at any point she puts a stop to your slow escalation “next” her. Something is wrong. Retain your pride and stop wasting time on her. Don’t orbit.

    Bonus Point 1: Women have no problem with “nice guys” if they are also confident, hard working and ambitious. Mentally normal women fantasize about men that succeed. It’s that simple. If the rest of your life is not successful this plan might not work for you. This plan depends on getting a woman to overlook your painfully, flawed appearance in order to lock down an entertaining guy that achieves. Many women will make that trade. This includes super hot women.

    Bonus Point 2: Remember that no matter how ugly you might be you get bumped up a couple of points if she likes you. Having said that the least you can do is don’t be fat. That never hurts.

    Bonus Point 3: You can do it. You can win.

    • Sir Tyrion Lannister (Administrator). says:

      Cherry picking!

      • below_average_joe says:

        😎
        In any distribution there will be participants that over-perform due to innate talent, experience and/or luck. For example maybe 95% of new businesses fail within 5 years. And yet a small subset of entrepreneurs consistently over-perform and succeed at a much higher than average rate.

        That doesn’t take away from the fact that your blog is on point. Looks play an enormous role in partner preference.

        I leveraged social confirmation and my personality to overcome deficiencies and succeed. Other people may need to use different tools.

  12. below_average_joe says:

    Addendum: Men can outperform if they have an amazing personality or money. Having both is best.
    Exhibit A) Photos of supermodel Emily Ratajkowski and her bald boyfriend of 2 years.
    http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/3671312/emily-rata-jeff-grab-coffee-03/
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3858272/Emily-Ratajkowski-smooches-boyfriend-Jeff-Magid-LA-Dodgers-game-home-team-trounced.html

    • Sir Tyrion Lannister (Administrator). says:

      Some unattractive men with money (especially if it goes seasoned with social notoriety) can sometimes improve the quality of their mate prospects. Frankly personality plays no role in an initial screening process.

  13. below_average_joe says:

    The initial screening process takes roughly 3 seconds. If personality is your biggest asset it makes sense to stick around after the initial screening is over. I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t love at first sight when Emily Ratajkowski first glanced at the bald, chubby schlub that would soon be her boyfriend.

  14. person says:

    All of these couples look almost EXACTLY the same in terms of physical attractiveness! I should know, I’m a woman. If there is any difference then race would be a factor.

    Also, your research topic and attitude suck.

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