The role of prosocial behaviour in female mate choice has been extensively explored, focusing on the desirability of altruism in potential mates, as well as altruism being a mating signal. However, little research has focused on the desirability of heroism and altruism in potential partners. Furthermore, the synergistic effect of attractiveness on the desirability of prosocial behavior has only recently been explored, and to our knowledge, has not been explored in relation to the desirability of heroism in a romantic partner. We explored the effect of prosociality and attractiveness on female desirability ratings (n = 198), and whether desirability was influenced by whether women were seeking a short-term or long-term relationship. We find that women are attracted to men who display heroism and altruism, and this preference is higher when the male is attractive compared to unattractive. Furthermore, preferences for prosocial traits were higher when seeking a long-term compared to a short-term partner. Our findings add to the literature on prosocial behaviour and matechoice. Data and materials [Open Science Framework Project A76P8].
The role of altruism in mate choice has been extensively explored, showing that this psychological trait can have a positive effect on an individual's romantic desirability. For example, findings indicate strong support that women are attracted to altruism in a mate, particularly for long-term relationships (see Barclay, 2010; Bhogal, Galbraith, & Manktelow, in press; Farrelly, 2011, 2013), and men display altruistic behaviors towards potential romantic partners (Bhogal, Galbraith, & Manktelow, 2016a; Farrelly, Lazarus, & Roberts, 2007; Iredale, van Vugt, & Dunbar, 2008; Tognetti, Berticat, Raymond, & Faurie, 2012). Furthermore, several studies have provided evidence that, in the real world, altruistic people have greater mating success compared to nonaltruistic people (Arnocky, Piche, Albert, Oullette, & Barclay, 2017; Stavrova & Ehlebracht, 2015). These findings suggest that altruism has evolved through sexual selection as a mating signal, an argument which is grounded in the idea that altruism is attractive because it signals future behavior towards a romantic partner and future offspring (Miller, 2000, 2007; Tessman, 1995). This implies that altruism acts as a signal of good partner/ parenting qualities of the altruist (Kokko, 1998). Alternatively, the costly nature of altruistic acts may also be of value in mate choice, as it can be an honest signal of the altruist's good genetic quality (Gintis, Smith, & Bowles, 2001). Which of these two better explains the desirability of altruism? According to Farrelly (2011, 2013), altruism is better explained as a signal of good parenting/partner abilities than good genetic quality, as it is desired more for longer relationships (and by both men and women).