New research into how women expect bigger rings from less attractive men … and why those men are willing to make it work.
A fascinating new study from Western Oregon University reveals that men are willing to buy bigger, more expensive engagement rings for women they find very attractive – and women expect to receive showier rings from less attractive men.
How the Research Works
The participants in the study, all Americans with an average age of 30, ranked the attractiveness of various members of the opposite sex by looking at their photos. They were also asked to rank their own attractiveness. They then imagined acting as if they were the boyfriend or girlfriend of each person pictured, offering an engagement ring as a marriage betrothal. The women chose the smallest engagement ring they’d accept from each man, ranging in diamond size from .5 to 1.5 carats. The men were asked to commit to a certain dollar value for a ring purchase, according to each woman pictured.
What the Study Finds
Men express a strong willingness to buy larger and more expensive engagement rings for women they find most attractive. On the flip side, women are willing to accept a smaller ring from a man they find very handsome and are less willing to accept the same smaller ring from a man they find less attractive. The only exceptions are women who rank themselves as extremely good-looking; they desire a big, expensive ring regardless of their partner’s ranking on the attractiveness scale.
“This is what you mean to me.”
The recent study entitled “The Effect of Mate Value Discrepancy on Hypothetical Engagement Ring Purchases,” published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, supports the idea that men use symbols to show financial success and attract mates. For both men and women, jewelry is strongly tied to perceptions about the overall value of a potential partner. Jewelry is offered as a symbol to say, “This is what you mean to me.”
Men tend to use engagement rings to convey a financially-secure lifestyle to the women they find most attractive. Women judge men on their looks but are willing to override this judgment for a more secure financial future. While it might not seem like a groundbreaking idea scientific research into these concepts has been limited, until now.
Anyone reading about this study right now is sure to find it both a bit unsettling and quite fascinating in the same breath. Perhaps the forces of attraction aren’t as mysterious as they seem – at least when it comes to jewelry. A man is essentially giving his partner a huge compliment when selecting an expensive ring. He’s saying, I find you very attractive and I’m going to prove it with my … financial prowess.
For women, the study conclusions may appear less … attractive. No matter; the value of a custom-designed engagement ring is big and beautiful and perfect, in the eye of the beholder.
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