In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about Preselection, defining exactly what it is, its adaptive role in evolution, a number of studies that support the idea and more.
What Is Preselection?
Preselection, also known as mate-choice copying, is the tendency to find potential partners more attractive when they have already been chosen as a partner by someone else.
Preselection is a form of social proof. Therefore, the same way people want things that other people want, women want men that other women want.
“Women want men who other men want to be and other women want to be with.”
The Evolutionary Perspective
In our ancestral past, women’s sexual selection was a matter of life or death. Those who were able to successfully identify a competent man were more likely to survive and reproduce.
Therefore, from an evolutionary perspective, Preselection evolved as tool to help women more quickly identify competent men who could become potential mates. The higher the quality of the females who had chosen a given male, the stronger the mate copying. This in turn helped minimise potential costs such as time, energy and recourses, when choosing a mate.
“Women are attracted to men that other men respect and other women desire.”
Studies That Support Preselection
Women judge men as more desirable when accompanied by other women, especially if those women are attractive. The higher the quality of women who have chosen a given man, the stronger the pre-selection.
In one study, researchers found that a man’s relationship status directly affected his attractiveness to women. When women thought a man was single, 59% found him attractive. However, when women thought a man was in a committed relationship, 90% found him attractive.
The same study also showed that single women were more interested in poaching a man who was already in a committed relationship rather than pursuing a man who was single.
Preselection refers to the concept that women are more attracted to men that are perceived to already be attractive and desired by other women.
Preselection evolved as an adaptation to assist women in solving the problem of identifying high-quality men as sexual partners. The best and quickest indicator of a high-quality man is a man who other women judge favourably having already seemingly done the groundwork.