Physical Attraction Attachment Styles And Dating Development

Topics: Attachment theory, Attachment in adults, Interpersonal relationship Pages: 19 (9545 words) Published: April 10, 2015

Physical attraction,
attachment styles, and
dating development

Journal of Social and
Personal Relationships
30(3) 301–319
ª The Author(s) 2012
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0265407512456673

Franklin O. Poulsen
Thomas B. Holman
Dean M. Busby
Jason S. Carroll
Brigham Young University, USA

We test theoretical arguments developed by Hazan and Diamond (2000) suggesting that attachment theory presents a more parsimonious theory of mate selection than Buss’ sexual strategies theory. We hypothesized that physical attractiveness and indicators of attachment anxiety and avoidance would be related to mate choice variables (e.g., number of first dates, and the probability of entering into an exclusive relationship in a 32-week period). We used a sample (N ¼ 242) of Latter-day Saint (LDS) young single adults. In general, our results support the idea that both physical attractiveness and attachment dimensions are important for understanding romantic relationship formation and dating processes. Physical attractiveness is generally the strongest predictor, and is more meaningful for females. Implications for theory are discussed. Keywords

Attachment, physical attractiveness, dating, relationship formation, mate selection

Ground-breaking research by Buss (1985, 1989, 1995) suggested the fundamental importance of physical attractiveness and sex differences in human mate selection. His model has been generally accepted as the definitive view on human mate selection from an evolutionary perspective. More recently, Hazan and Diamond (2000) have suggested an alternative evolutionary explanation of human mate selection. However, there has been

Corresponding author:
Franklin O. Poulsen, School of Family Life JFSB 2082, Provo, UT 84602, USA. Email:


Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 30(3)

no empirical test of the alternative explanation proposed by Hazan and Diamond. The purpose of this study was to test this alternative evolutionary explanation in the early stages of romantic relationship formation.

Sexual strategies theory
Sexual strategies theory (Buss & Schmitt, 1993) has two tenets which Hazan and Diamond critique and offer an alternative to, and which are of interest to us in this study. First, sexual strategies theory emphasizes the sex differences in mating behavior. Indeed, this assumption is the essential starting point of the theory. These sex differences are based on the idea that males and females are looking for different qualities in a heterosexual mate because of differences in ‘‘parental investment’’ that is present even at the mate selection stage. That is, males are inclined to want to inseminate as many fertile females as possible to insure the continuation of their genes. Females, however, have evolved a preference for men who are willing to invest in them and their offspring. While Buss and his co-authors allow that the mating behaviors of men and women can be similar under certain ecological conditions, ‘‘the inescapable conclusion from their writings is that differences between the sexes represent the hallmark of human mating’’ (Hazan & Diamond, 2000; p. 187).

Second, the theory posits that because of these sex differences, physical attractiveness is more important in men’s mate selection choices than in females’ choices. This is because physical attractiveness is an indicator of fertility. Buss’ (1989) study of mate preferences in 33 countries provided support for the idea that males valued reproductive capacity more than females. The theory does not deny that males may continue to invest in an impregnated female; rather it argues that the partner with greater ‘‘reproductive costs’’ will invest more as there is more to lose. This partner is the female, as the overall investment necessary for producing the next generation (e.g., egg production, childbearing,...

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