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Desires in Human Mating Critical Essay


Of all the issues which remain just as important for the modern world as they used to be centuries ago, the mechanisms of human mating remains by far the most mysterious.

No matter how many theories have been developed to explain the numerous ways in which people are attracted to the opposite sex, the main question, which is what draws people of the opposite sexes together, remains unanswered.

The author of the article titled Desires in human mating, Buss tries to answer the given question, offering his interpretation of what makes people fall in love.

However, it is necessary to mention that Buss not only tries to discover these mechanisms, but to explain them with the help of a specific theory; to be more exact, Buss obviously chooses evolution theory (Shoemake, 2007) to back his evidence up with.

In addition, Buss asks a number of the questions which are somehow related to the human mating issue: “Why should humans seek similarity or equity? What might be the origins of these motives? What functions would they serve?” (Buss, 2000, 39).

However, when considering Buss’s research in a more general way, one can consider that the answer to the question “Why should humans seek similarity or equity?” summarizes the goal of Buss’s research in a nutshell.

When speaking of the article’s specifics, it is necessary to mention that one of its key peculiarities is the number of curious hypotheses which Buss offers at the very start.

Buss’s suggestion that “biological differences, recurring over millions of years of evolutionary history, fail to select for a sex-differentiated sexual psychology” (Buss, 2000, 40) is a very challenging statement to begin with.

However, Buss goes even further in his research, claiming in his next hypothesis that “parental investment is defined by decrements in a parent’s residual reproductive value” (Buss, 2000, 40).

In addition, Buss also states in his third hypothesis that the choice of a mate depends on not only a momentary sympathy, but also on long-lasting plans: “higher-investing sex can select mates on various grounds, depending on the particular species, to increase the survival and reproduction of her offspring” (Buss, 2000, 40).

The above-mentioned signifies that Buss also incorporates the social exchange theory (Nakonezny & Denton, 2008) and social role theory (Fernandez, Quiroga, Icaza & Escorial, 2012) in his research. Moreover,

Buss makes it clear that parental investment also defines “any reduction in the parent’s survival, fecundity, mating success, or ability to invest in relatives” (Buss, 2000, 40), which is a next link in the chain of the logical conclusions concerning the process which take place in people’s minds when they make their the mating choice.

Finally, Buss assumes that “men, compared with women, relax their standards in short-term mating contexts” (Buss, 2000, 43).

One must give Buss credit for using a very peculiar methodology for his research.

Based on the theoretical evidences of human mating behavior, the choices which people make when deciding on their mate, and the factors which affect these choices, as well as a recent experimental study which “has revealed a hidden side of women’s sexuality – a desire for extra-pair partners and the conditions under which this desire is expressed” (Buss, 2000, 39),

Buss’s paper seems very strong. As for the research setting which Buss has chosen for his paper, The International Mate Selection Project, as Buss called it, embraced “10,047 participants from 37 different cultures located on six continents and five islands” (Buss, 2000, 41).

Speaking of the procedure of the research, one must pay special attention to the fact that Buss took various samples from a number of cultures, from Venezuela to Zulu, among the people from 14 to 71, to evaluate male preferences.

However, if picking the element of Buss’s article which stands out the most, the results of the paper seem to take the first prize. To start with, it is important to emphasize that some of Buss’s assumptions were wrong: “Not all of the results from this study confirmed the hypotheses” (Buss, 2000, 41).

Speaking of the idea that male standards are more relaxed in short-term relationships, one must give credit to Buss’ assumptions, since they proved completely right.

However, when it came to figuring out whether male value of women’s virginity was the defining element in the relationships, it “proved to be the case in only 62% of the cultures” (Buss, 2000, 41).

However, two of the ideas which Buss offered at the beginning of the research proved fully legitimate, namely, the fact that financial prospects are valued by most women when choosing the mate (Buss, 2012, 42), which can be related to the postulates of the social context theory (Diekman & Schneider, 2010), and the fact that the pivoting point of men’s choice is youth and attractiveness (Buss, 2012, 42), which serves as a solid proof for Fiske’s idea of people’s motivations (Fiske, 2012).

Therefore, it can be concluded that the research results provided by Buss can be considered not only from the viewpoint of the evolution theory, but also from the standpoints of the social theories, which once again proves that a man is a social animal.

Reference List

Buss, D. M. (2000). Desires in human mating. Austin, TX: Department of Psychology, University of Austin, Texas 78712.

Diekman, A. B., & Schneider, M. C. (2010). A social role theory perspective on gender gaps in political attitudes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 486-497.

Fernandez, J., Quiroga, M. A., Icaza, V. J., & Escorial, S. (2012). Dimensionality and transcultural specificity of the sexual attraction questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 15(1), 232-333.

Fiske, S. T. (2012) “Automaticity and the unconscious.” S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindsey (ed.). Handbook of Social Psychology, vol. 2.New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 228-268.

Fiske, S. T. (2012) “Motivation.” S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindsey (ed.). Handbook of Social Psychology, vol. 2.New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 268-371.

Nakonezny, P. A., & Denton, W. H. (2008). Marital relationships: A social exchange theory perspective. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 36, 402-412.

Shoemake, E. (2007). Human mate selection theory: An integrated evolutionary and social approach. Journal of Scientific Psychology, 11, 35-42.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Desires in Human Mating." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/desires-in-human-mating/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Desires in Human Mating'. 18 June.

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