Jeffrey K. Snyder, Department of Anthropology, UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture and The College of William and Mary; Lee A. Kirkpatrick, Department of Psychology, The College of William and Mary; H. Clark Barrett, Department of Anthropology, UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture.
The dominance dilemma: Do women really prefer dominant mates?
Article first published online: 3 DEC 2008
© 2008 IARR
Volume 15, Issue 4, pages 425–444, December 2008
How to Cite
SNYDER, J. K., KIRKPATRICK, L. A. and BARRETT, H. C. (2008), The dominance dilemma: Do women really prefer dominant mates?. Personal Relationships, 15: 425–444. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2008.00208.x
The authors thank Martie Haselton, Daniel M. T. Fessler, Rob Boyd, Joan Silk, and Francisco Gil-White for their comments on this work. The authors also express gratitude to multiple reviewers, editors, and the participants of the studies herein.
- Issue published online: 3 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 3 DEC 2008
Previous research has led to a widely accepted conclusion that heterosexual women prefer mates who are high in dominance. Three experiments designed to distinguish dominance from prestige and examine moderating contextual factors challenge this conclusion. College women at 2 U.S. universities evaluated hypothetical, potential mates described in written vignettes. Participants in Study 1 preferred a high-prestige to a high-dominance target. With dominance and prestige manipulated independently in Study 2, participants preferred high to low prestige but also preferred low to high dominance. Participants in Study 3 preferred high to low dominance, but only (a) when displayed in the context of an athletic competition and (b) in ratings of attractiveness and desirability as a short-term (vs. long-term) mate.