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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Glenn E. Weisfeld

Abstract

Though numerous studies in the evolutionary psychology literature have investigated how humans select mates in order to successfully reproduce and raise progeny to reproductive maturity, few have examined if factors involved in mate selection matter in marital satisfaction and individual happiness. Being youthful and attractive are indices of reproductive viability and are traits preferred by men universally while women are most known to prefer a mate of high financial status (Buss, 1989), thus underscoring the importance of a male's ability to offer financial investment to potential mates. In addition, women are more likely to evaluate the parental ability of potential long-term mates (Kruger & Fisher, 2003). If reproduction is the unconscious end goal, positive aspects of child quality should be important to parents because children represent the reproductive success individuals have been able to achieve, though the presence and number of children have documented detrimental effects on marital satisfaction (Twenge, Campbell, & Foster, 2003). The present study sought to analyze how information related to child quality, their happiness, spousal attractiveness, and financial status affect individual happiness and marital satisfaction based on the premise that if individuals have made choices that positively affect reproduction, there ought to be a measurable psychological benefit. While the expected sex differences between husbands and wives were apparent when comparing responses on attractiveness, financial status, and children, finding sex differences in how these variables impacted happiness and marital satisfaction were not as clear. The regression models showed that individual happiness and marital satisfaction can be predicted for both husbands and wives from these variables, though financial status and contributing less of the joint income is more important in the marital satisfaction of wives. The findings are discussed in an evolutionary framework with respect to how future work can benefit from extending the application of evolutionary principles of mating to the entire human lifespan.