Are Everyday Heroic or Altruistic Acts More Desirable in Human Mate Choice?

  • Daniel Farrelly University of Worcester
  • Briar Curley University of Worcester
  • Manpal Singh Bhogal University of Wolverhampton
Keywords: heroism, altruism, mate choice, relationship length, desirability


Previous research has shown that heroic acts are valued traits in human mate choice, due to their desirability particularly for long term partners. There is however inconsistency as to whether heroism is a more valued trait than more general forms of altruism, or if both signal the same underlying desired trait in partners. To assess this, the current study looked to directly compare the desirability of heroic and altruistic acts when both are options that individuals may choose. Here, both male and female participants were provided with descriptions of hypothetical individuals who chose to behave either heroically or altruistically in the same everyday scenario, and asked to rate their desirability for both short and long term relationships. It was found that although both heroic and altruistic individuals were considered more desirable for long term than short term relationships, there were no differences in the ratings of heroic and altruistic acts nor were there any sex differences. Accordingly it is concluded that heroism is not a distinct trait in mate choice than altruism, and both signal the actor’s underlying prosocial personality characteristic that is valued in long term relationship for both men and women.

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