The big, the rich, and the powerful: physical, financial, and social dimensions of dominance in mating and attraction

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Mar;37(3):365-82. doi: 10.1177/0146167210395604. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


Dominance is a key feature on which romantic partners are evaluated, yet there is no clear consensus on its definition. In Study 1 (N=305), the authors developed scales to measure three putatively distinct dimensions of dominance: social, financial, and physical. In Study 2 (N=308), the authors used their scales in a mate-selection paradigm and found that women perceived physical dominance to be related to both attractiveness and social dominance. For both sexes, attractiveness predicted desirability for a one-night stand, whereas attractiveness and agreeableness were predictors of desirability for a serious relationship. In Study 3 (N=124), the authors surveyed romantic partners in monogamous relationships and found that although aspects of a partner's dominance-financial for women and social for men-played a bivariate role in relationship satisfaction, agreeableness was the strongest predictor of current and future relationship satisfaction and the only significant predictor of relationship dissolution.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Authoritarianism
  • Beauty
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Love
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Desirability*
  • Social Dominance*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult