Get access

Body Weight and Matching With a Physically Attractive Romantic Partner


  • *

    Department of Policy Analysis and Management, 124 MVR Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

    **Department of Sociology, 237 Williams Hall, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.

    ***Division of Nutritional Sciences, 303 MVR Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Department of Policy Analysis and Management, 122 MVR Hall Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 (


Matching and attribute trade are two perspectives used to explain mate selection. We investigated patterns of matching and trade, focusing on obesity, using Add Health Romantic Pair data (N = 1,405 couples). Obese individuals, relative to healthy weight individuals, were less likely to have physically attractive partners, with this disadvantage greater for women than men, and greater for White women than Black women. Additional education, a more attractive personality, and better grooming increased the probability of having a physically attractive partner and offset the disadvantage of obesity for some individuals. Unexpectedly, we found women, like men, trade education for their partners’ physical attractiveness. Despite evidence of attribute trade, matching with respect to physical characteristics was the dominant mate selection pattern.

Get access to the full text of this article