Partner Selection: Evolution Or Social Learning?

Partner Selection: Evolution Or Social Learning?
Attraction can be defined as a power which brings things or persons together. When choosing a partner, attraction plays an important role. But why are men attracted by some aspects and women by others? Can the evolutionary theory explain it? Or does the social theory have another explanation?The attraction that a male feels towards a woman is very much determined by her physical aspect. Women are also attracted by good looking men, but the physical aspect is less important for a woman when coming to choose a partner, comparing to other features, such as success. Moreover, men prefer younger women, and women prefer slightly older men. This trend is typical for the medium of the population, and of course there are exceptions, according to Gauss’ Curve, but why do the differences exist?

The answer lies within the social roles and in the process of social learning. When talking about the social roles, there is a distinctive feature that exists in the American society and all over the world, and this is the fact that women have less power than men and also have a lower social status. In the United States, women gain 25% less than men do and also occupy less political positions. Another characteristic of the social roles in the modern society is the work division by sexes. For example, only 3.4% of the plane pilots and 1.2% of the carpenters are women, and only 2.9% of the social care workers and 1.9% of the dentists’ assistants are men. So, because of low access for women to important jobs which offer big salaries, are we still to wonder why successful men are more attractive for them?

An important aspect of the role of women is beauty and heterosexual attraction. The beauty of women is highly visible in the American society and it is used for selling every kind of products, from mattresses to sport cars. Young women early learn that they ought to be pretty, and young men early learn that they ought to elect beautiful partners. The sex roles have another unwritten rule which specifies that the formation of pairs of certain different ages is acceptable.

How and why every new generation of children adopts the behaviors which fit the specific sex roles? The answer can be found in the process of social learning. The violation of the sex roles receives, especially during adolescence, severe punishments. For example, John invites Anna, which is a friendly person, at a dance class. Because she is not very pretty, John’s friends begin to rudely and without mercy annoy him. John will never make the same mistake again. Justin, one of John’s friends, observes what happens and he decides that in the future he will be very cautious when inviting a girl to the dance classes. According to the cognitive theory of social learning, Justin only has to see the punishment applied to John and learn that boys shouldn’t date unattractive girls.

Another perspective that tries to explain the formation of couples is the evolutionary perspective. Some scientists do not agree with it because they say that evolutionists don’t point out the mechanisms that lead to certain predispositions. Another argument against the evolutionist explanation for this issue lies in the opposition of the two theories they have. On one hand, they say that male’s capacity to produce many hundreds of offspring draws man into promiscuity, but on the other hand they state that the need to be assured that the descendants will survive until they are capable of reproduction creates an opposite need for monogamy. In other words, the evolution theory can be used to explain both the promiscuity of men and also their fidelity.

Furthermore, there is another perspective that points out two different categories of partner relating. The first one presumes that the partner is elected with no intention of commitment, just for hedonistic purposes. When this is the situation, physical attraction plays the most important role and can all be reduced to the evolutionary perspective.

The second category talks about those who begin a relationship with the desire of permanence and commitment. For these people, physical attraction does not mean a Hollywood body and look, but rather physical attraction is emphasized by what lies within the person’s soul. They know that appearance is not enough when trying to form a long-term relationship and that this is only the spark that starts a fire which is preserved by respect, fidelity, love and patience.

In conclusion, it is well known that attraction is a component in the process of partner selection and is known that men are attracted by physical features and women by abstract ones. These differences can be explained through a series of perspectives and the two most popular are the social theory and the evolutionary one, with arguments pro and against. So it is all a question of mentality.

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