If you've ever met a date your parents set you up with and wondered what on Earth they were thinking, a new study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science might help you understand their thought process.
When it comes to choosing a partner, the results suggest that kids and their folks judge prospects based on different criteria.
The researchers asked 80 women ages 15-29 and 61 moms how attractive several fictional men were, how much they liked their personalities, and how much they'd want to either date them or set them up with their children. And on many fronts, the moms and daughters agreed. Both groups preferred the men who were rated most attractive, and both selected the ones with the highest-rated personalities as long as they were at least moderately attractive.
However, when parents were the ones choosing between the men, looks played less of a role. Moms said they'd consider setting their daughters up with the men who were rated least attractive, while daughters weren't even open to dating them.
"This may signal that unattractiveness is less acceptable to women than to their mothers," lead author Madeleine Fugère said in a press release. "It might also mean that women and their mothers may have different notions of what constitutes a minimally acceptable level of physical attractiveness, with mothers employing a less stringent standard than their daughters."
Perhaps our parents, being older and wiser, have grown to understand that looks don't matter so much. Or maybe they're just not thinking about looks when evaluating their kids' prospects because they're not the ones dating them.
Another study published last year in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences found a similar pattern in siblings. Women said they cared about traits like kindness and trustworthiness more when choosing mates for their sisters, but when it came to themselves, they wanted someone who was fun to be around and provided good sex. The authors of that research theorized that people want their family members to end up with people who can take care of them, or else they'll have to do that job.
Fortunately, though, despite what The New York Post might suggest, personality and looks (which are subjective anyway) can coexist. And hopefully, most people's families agree that they deserve to find both.