MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Madeleine A. Fugère, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Eastern CT State University
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Previous research has shown that both daughters and their parents rate many traits as more important than physical attractiveness in a potential mate (for daughters), including traits such as respectfulness, honesty, and trustworthiness. Previous research also shows that women rate physical attractiveness as more important in a mate for themselves than parents do in a mate for their daughters.
In our research project, we experimentally manipulated the physical attractiveness of male targets (using photographs) and we experimentally manipulated the traits associated with each male target. The trait profiles included the “respectful” trait profile which consisted of the traits respectful, honest, and trustworthy, the “friendly” trait profile which included the traits friendly, dependable, and mature, and the “pleasing” trait profile which contained the traits pleasing disposition, ambitious, and intelligent.
We found that both women and their mothers were strongly influenced by the physical attractiveness of the men and preferred the attractive and moderately attractive targets. Both women and their mothers rated the attractive and moderately attractive men most favorably, especially when they were paired with the most positive trait profile (the “respectful” trait profile).
However, the unattractive man was never rated more positively than his more attractive counterparts even when he possessed the most favorable trait profile.