Are Married Men More Desirable?
Stay away from my man: The wedding ring effect.
Posted Apr 30, 2010
In an earlier post (see here), I discussed a study wherein researchers had explored variables that affect the amount of money that men spend on engagement rings. In today's post, I return to the general topic but I focus on the so-called wedding ring effect, which refers to the folk belief that married men, who signal their marital status via the wearing of a wedding ring, are construed by women as more desirable. The argument is that by wearing a wedding ring, a man is publicly acknowledging that: (1) he is taken and as such he has the capacity to commit to a long-term relationship; (2) some woman has found him desirable enough to choose him as her long-term mate. Accordingly, via the process of mate-copying, which has been found in numerous species, other women will process this valuable information, and conclude that such a taken man (all other things equal) must possess some desirable qualities. Effectively, this corresponds to the "why are all the good men always taken?" adage.
Before the single male readers rush out to purchase fake wedding rings as a means of appealing to women, you should know that an experimental study failed to find any evidence of a wedding ring effect (Uller & Johansson, 2003). Female participants interacted with one of two men who either wore or did not wear a wedding ring. Subsequently, they rated the men along several metrics. Wearing a wedding ring did not increase the attractiveness of the wearer nor did it augment the likelihood of the women wishing to engage in either a short or long-term relationship with the ring wearer. In a more recent study, Italian researchers found that the likelihood of a woman finding a partnered man attractive depends on where she is in her menstrual cycle as well as whether she is partnered or not (Bressan & Stranieri, 2008). This might explain the null effect in the first study.
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