Men and women rate warmth and trustworthiness as very important in their potential partner. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash, CC BY
Whether it’s in reality TV or glossy magazines, sex appeal, fat bank accounts, kind eyes and cute smiles are often served up as the attributes that make for anyone’s dream partner. But these characteristics merely reflect gross exaggerations of important evolutionary qualities that we actually want in a long-term partner.
Based on research from both evolutionary and social psychology, researchers have categorised how we appraise potential partners into three broad features. These are: the degree to which a partner exudes reproductive capacity (“vitality and attractiveness”), a partner’s ability to provide (“status and resources”), and the partner’s “warmth and trustworthiness”.