Does social status affect dating desire in adolescents?

From: Archives of Sexual Behavior

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  • 1,913 adolescents aged 13–18


  • Adolescents were randomly given pictures of a person of the opposite sex. The picture also provided a description of the persons social status (by way of hobbies, level of education, level of ambition and parents occupation).
  • Participants rated the pictures in levels of attractiveness.
  • Participants also completed a questionnaire regarding the self-importance of various partner characteristics, dating desire and self-perceived mate value.


  • Both boys and girls reported that reliability, honesty, and kindness were the three most important characteristics for a potential partner
  • A strong sex difference was found in terms of attractiveness, which was rated as the fourth most important characteristic by boys and only as the tenth most important characteristic by girls.
  • Concerning social status, both boys and girls attached relatively little importance to the characteristics ambitious, finished education, high salary, and good family background. However, girls rated the characteristics ambitious and finished education as significantly more important than boys. In the high attractive condition, boys showed more dating desire when the other person had a high social status.
  • Adolescents who perceived themselves as having a high mate value showed more dating desire if the other person was attractive compared to adolescents who perceived themselves as having a lower mate value.
  • The authors conclude that both social status and attractiveness of a potential short-term partner were primary conditions for girls’ dating desire and for boys on the contrary, only attractiveness was a primary condition and social status had an additional value merely when a potential partner was attractive.


  • Yes (without confidence); for girls only seeking a short-term partner