If a man believes he is wealthy he is less likely to be satisfied with his partner’s appearance, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong conducted a two-part social experiment exploring the effects of perceived wealth among romantic couples. A group of Chinese college students in heterosexual relationships was made to think they were wealthy while another group was made to think they were poor. They achieved this by asking each participant to identify their income based on a scale of other salaries. One group’s choices of salaries started at a much lower level than the other in order to create the impression that they were at the high end. The reverse was true of the other group.
In the first part of the experiment, the participants were asked a series of questions about their relationships. Researchers found that the men in the ‘wealthy’ group were far more likely to be unsatisfied with their partner’s physical appearance than those who believed they were poor. Wealthy men also showed higher interest in short-term relationships than their poorer peers.
By contrast, ‘wealthy’ women did not express any higher expectations of their partner’s appearance.
In the second test, participants were given the opportunity to interact with members of the opposite sex. Both men and women who thought they were wealthy showed increased levels of confidence and were much more likely to approach people they found attractive.
Psychology professor Darius Chan said they had conducted this research in order to better understand “the psychological importance of money in the development of romantic relationships because very little is known about this subject”.
Although his research had been conducted within a specific culture, Professor Chan believed that the findings would be similar regardless of where the experiments took place. The reason for this prediction was that “the basic mechanisms of mate selection have been found to be rather similar across culture”.
The study was published in the academic journal Frontiers in Psychology.