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Dads and cads: U-M study tests female preferences for partners

"I never saw a woman worth thinking twice about after the anchor was a-peak---on shore it is another thing; and I will laugh, sing, dance, and make love, if they like it, with twenty girls."
—Clement Cleveland, in Walter Scott's "The Pirate"

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---For long-term relationships, women like dads---men who are kind, compassionate and monogamous. But for short-term relationships, women prefer cads---the classic Romantic dark heroes who are dominant, promiscuous and daring.

That's according to a new study by the University of Michigan.

"About 60 percent of the women said they would prefer to have sex with a cad when considering a brief affair," said Daniel Kruger, a social psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), the world's largest academic social science survey and research organization.

For the study, appearing in the current issue of the journal Human Nature, Kruger and co-authors Maryanne Fisher and Ian Jobling tested evolutionary mating theories using hypothetical scenarios involving classic cad and dad character types from 18th and 19th century British literature. The subjects were an ethnically diverse group of 257 female undergraduates at a large Midwestern university.

The women read passages from Romantic novels describing two prototypical dads and two prototypical cads and answered a series of questions. While the women said they preferred dads for long-term relationships, they found cads more desirable as short-term mates. Their tendency to choose cads over dads increased as the length of the hypothetical relationship decreased.

According to Kruger, the findings imply that the dad versus cad distinction is intuitive to women and remains a key element of contemporary mating strategies. Women's preference for cads for short-term relationships supports what evolutionary psychologists call the "sexy son hypothesis," Kruger said. Even though
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Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
734-647-9069
University of Michigan
22-Oct-2003


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