However, people in different cultures place a different value on romantic love within a marriage. People in individualistic cultures often believe romantic love is a prerequisite for marriage. In many collectivist cultures, people often consider it acceptable for family members or third parties to arrange marriages.

Evolutionary Perspectives

Evolutionary psychologists speculate that the tendency to be attracted to physically attractive people is adaptive. Many cultures value particular aspects of physical attractiveness, such as facial symmetry and a small waist-to-hip ratio. Evolutionary psychologists point out that facial symmetry can be an indicator of good health, since many developmental abnormalities tend to produce facial asymmetries. A small waist-to-hip ratio, which produces an “hourglass” figure, indicates high reproductive potential.

As predicted by the parental investment theory described in Chapters 2 and 12, men tend to be more interested in their partners’ youthfulness and physical attractiveness. Evolutionary psychologists think that this is because these characteristics indicate that women will be able to reproduce successfully. Women, on the other hand, tend to value partners’ social status, wealth, and ambition, because these are characteristics of men who can successfully provide for offspring.

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