An experimental manipulation of female perceptions of the status of women: effects on mate preferences
We tested the relationships between female status and mate preferences demonstrated in previous correlational studies in an experimental manipulation of female perceptions of the status of women. To achieve this, 147 female undergraduate students considered either the advantages (positive condition) or disadvantages (negative condition) experienced by women as a result of belonging to the female gender and reported their mate preferences. We hypothesised that women in the positive condition would exhibit less traditional mate preferences (i.e. have younger ideal partner ages and maximum and minimum partner ages tolerated and stronger preferences for cues to genetic quality relative to material resources) than those in the negative condition. Condition did not affect preferences, therefore our hypotheses were not supported. There were, however, positive relationships between number of thoughts associated with the special social treatment of women and maximum partner age tolerated and number of thoughts associated with finances and mate-choice points allocated to “physically attractive” over “hard working”. There was also an interaction between occurrence of thoughts in the special social treatment category and condition on preferences for “physically attractive” over “hard working”. We conclude that our results, while consistent with previous research, do not provide experimental support for the relationships of interest and suggest that dimension-specific manipulations (e.g. of perceptions of financial status) will provide stronger tests of hypotheses.