DISCUSSION

Firstly, it is important to note that this study revealed that
overall, honesty, kindness, ambition, good health and a sense of humour
were the most valued partner qualities. This finding was consistent with
that of Sprecher and Toro-Morn (2003) and Doosje, Rojahn and Fischer
(1999); overall, these researchers found in their studies that partners who
were honest and trust worthy, and those who were warm, kind ambitious and
had a good sense of humour were highly desired by both men and women. One
explanation was that such qualities were more valued because they usually
contribute to happy and long lasting relationships more so than status or
physical characteristics (Sprecher and Toro-Morn, 2003). Rubin as cited by
Sears, Peplau and Taylor (1991) explained that traits such as honesty and
trustworthiness are important because feelings of affection are based on
these qualities for a partner and this is a necessary component for
attraction. A study conducted by Folkes and Sears (1997) discovered that
participants generally held positive attitudes towards interviewers who
were warm and kind in their behaviours. One explanation can be derived from
the fact that these traits can lead to positive affect, and positive affect
can be classically associated with and result in attraction.

Locally, Waithe (1995) alluded to the importance of humour in
personal relationships. Waithe prescribed:
Persons should feel comfortable in a relationship, and the
couple should endeavour to make each other comfortable…couples
can find that humour can be useful in providing some tension
relief…(p.80)
According to Waithe, sense of humour is definitely important in any
relationship since ‘laughing is the best medicine’.

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On the topic of ambition, it must be noted here that the sample was
made up of persons with higher academic pursuits and the high value for
ambitious partners may be directly linked to the fact that these
individuals may posses the need for partners with similar intellectual or
professional pursuits or passions. In relation to the balance theory,
persons seek others with similar characteristics because it produces
balance; this balance is emotionally pleasant and arouses positive affect
and ultimately, attraction occurs (Newcomb as cited in Baron & Bryne,
2003).

Regarding gender differences, women, more than men, valued partners
who were kind, honest, ambitious, had a desire for children and high social
status. Kindness and honesty, for women, are qualities that are greatly
desired in any relationship. Dann (1987) highlighted the need for such
qualities by Barbadian women:
Just as men were looking for someone dependable with “no
tricks”, so too did they recognize that honesty was required in
themselves. In other words, there appeared to be a male
awareness of women’s reluctant to enter a relationship with a
man who was considered unsteady or unreliable, again possibly
exploding the popular stereotype of male irresponsibility, at
least at the level of attitude if not actual behaviour.(p.73)
Women’s high value on ambition and high social status was a
consistent finding in past mate selection studies (for eg. Buss, 1989;
Hatfield & Sprecher, 1995; Hill, 1945). Regarding social role theory,
Archer (1996) commented that women and men are socialized to behave in
socially desirable and acceptable ways; they are socially expected to
prefer attributes that are congruent with stereotypic expectations about
gender roles. Women’s expectations of a man to be the head of the house
hold and to be the main bread winner has reinforced the value that they
place on characteristics in potential mates such as ambition and high
social status.

In the Caribbean, Freilich (1968) discovered that women in an Eastern
Trinidadian community placed stronger emphasis on status and material
wealth than the men. It is a common cultural expectation in the Caribbean
for women to rely on men to support them economically. Furthermore, most
men enter relationships with this expectation as well.

Along with ambition and high social status, women’s strong preference
for partners who desire children was also consistent with that of Sprecher
and Toro-Morn (2003), in their American sample. This preference can be
linked directly to the view that women are usually positive when it comes
to having children, along with the fact that, unlike men, they have limited
time attached to their ‘reproductive clock’. Culturally speaking, one
writer (Clarke, 1957) underscored the importance that Caribbean women
attach to childbearing and motherhood:
Not only is sexual activity regarding as natural, it is
unnatural not to have a child and no woman who has not proved
that she can bear one is likely to find a man to be responsible
for her since ‘ no man is going to propose marriage to such a
woman’. Maternity is a normal and desirable state and the
childless woman is an object of pity, contempt…A barren woman
may be referred to as a mule. (p.95)
Furthermore, Caribbean men are usually very reluctant to enter
relationships with women who greatly desire children; Dann (1987) argued
that Barbadian men tend to post pone the stability that comes with
fatherhood until later in life.

Also in this study, men were reported to place higher value on
partners who were physically attractive and were good cooks. Men’s high
value on physical attractiveness is consistent with many past studies (e.g.

Buss, 1989; Doosje et al., 1999; Sprecher ; Toro-Morn, 2003; Sprecher,
Sulivan, Hartfield, 1994). The link between sex and physical attractiveness
tend to be largely associated with evolutionary explanations. According to
Johnston and Franklin (as cited in Baron ; Byrne, 2000):
When men are attracted to women whose appearance suggests youth
and health and hence fertility, reproductive success becomes
more likely…over hundreds of thousands of years, attraction to
female appearance proved to be a crucial male preference that
increased the odds of the man’s genes being passed on to the
next generation. (p.276)
This evolutionary assumption implies that males are genetically predisposed
to value physical attractiveness of the female species, as it serves as a
survival mechanism that signals good health and reproductive success. Such
an assumption neglects essential socio-cultural influences, instead, it
stresses that this “predisposition” is consistent across all cultures (e.g.

Buss, 1989; Doojse et al., 1999; Sprecher & Toro-Morn, 2003). This finding
has, to a large degree, confirmed this evolutionary assumption and also it
has revealed that women tend to view male physical attractiveness as
relatively unimportant. An explanation for the latter finding can be
derived from the view that physical attractiveness is more valued by males
than by females (Feingold, 1990). Females have also been reported to
associate male physical attractiveness with promiscuity and sexual
permissiveness (Smeaton as cited by Baron & Byrne, 2000). In the Caribbean,
it was found that Anamatian men attached greater importance to physical
attractiveness of a female than was true for the reverse (Freilich, 1968).

However, surprisingly such importance was not attached by Barbadian men in
past research (see Dann, 1987).

Men have traditionally reported to enter relationships based on the
expectation that the woman would abide by the conventional conjugal roles
such as housekeeping, child-raring and, of course, cooking. This finding
(men’s high value on partners who are good cooks) is consistent with socio-
role theory (socio-cultural theory), where men and women possess gender
specific expectations about culturally sanctioned gender roles. This
explanation leads one to gain a better understanding of Bahamian male-
female expectations, and specifically the great importance that men
continue to place on their partners’ ability to cook, among other things,
in a relationship.

In relation to age preferences in mate selection, men were more
likely to prefer younger mates and women had a stronger preference for
older partners. This finding was congruent with past research done in many
cultures (Buss, 1989; Sprecher & Toro-Morn, 2003; Sprecher et al., 1994a).

Evolutionary speaking, men view that female youth and beauty are closely
related; there tend to be associated between youth and reproductive success
(Baron & Byrne, 2000).

Dann (1987) also argued that Barbadian men tended to choose younger
partners from the lower socio-economic sections of the society. He argued
that this type of ‘downward selection’ of a partner can be explained by the
fact that “male super ordination in a relationship may be deliberately
sought in order to preserve the traditional authority structure” (p. 76).

In the reverse, women tend to associate older partners with qualities
such as maturity and intellect. These qualities are tied to earning
potential and status, which are sociably desirable qualities for women.

Furthermore, it was explained that a female’s preference for an older mate
can be linked to the view that a man’s age may be positively correlated
with income and financial stability (Buss,1994).

No significant gender difference was found for the importance of love
for entering a marriage. This finding conflicts with that of Kephart in
the 1960s, where he found that men attached greater importance to love for
entering a marriage than did women (Sears et al., 1991). In this study,
both men and women view love as a prerequisite for marriage. This remains
consistent with findings in past American love research (Simpson, Campbell
& Berscheid’s study as cited in Sears et al., 1991; Sprecher et al.,
1994b). In the Caribbean, Waithe (1995) believed that both Caribbean men
and women place strong value on the role of love in personal and intimate
relationships (a ‘love conquers all’ philosophy).

Significant gender differences were found for the logical (pragma)
and game playing (ludus) love styles. Women were more pragmatic in their
love attitudes than men; however, men were more ludic than women. This
finding was consistent with many popular empirical studies on mate
selection (e.g. Bernandes et al., 1999; Hendrick et al., 1984; Lacey et
al., 2004). In relation to socio-cultural theory (under the social learning
perspective), women’s pragmatic approach to love can be linked to the view
that men and women are socially expected (and rewarded) to act in ways that
are in congruence with society’s norms and demands regarding specific
gender roles (Bernandes et al., 1999). Traditionally, men are expected to
be more sexually active and to maintain an exploratory role where as women
are expected to endorse stable and practical aspects of love (see Bernandes
et al., 1999). In the Caribbean, women are more likely than men to be
practical (logical) when choosing partners and men are culturally expected
to be more liberal in their sexual pursuits (Waithe, 1995). Women rely on
certain characteristics in their partner that are important and necessary
to their development and survival. These characteristics may include
status, education, ambition and material wealth. There is a general belief
that the pursuit of these qualities (i.e. the pragmatic approach) is
related to the ‘fact’ that a woman should be heavily dependent on a man in
a relationship.

Many Caribbean researchers and writers have discussed the ‘pleasures’
of men’s ludic lifestyles. For example, Dann (1987) eloquently revealed the
secrets of men’s game playing approach:
The commonly held stereotype of the Barbadian male is that of a
roaming wolf seeking whom he may sexually devour, with conquests
in every parish adding notch upon to his overloaded shotgun. The
limitless women he has known, and the countless children he has
fathered, form part and parcel of his recountable repertoire. As
a hard seed, or a village ram, he can be regarded as something
of a hero and the subject of rum shop admiration. Above all, his
macho image must be maintained, and this should be carefully
preserved among his contemporaries by folk sagas of male
prowess. (p.71)
The major limitations of this study would be discussed at this point. One
limitation was based on the adoption of a non-probability sampling
procedure. This convenient sampling design may have compromised, to an
extent, the representatives of sample. This, along with the relatively
small sampling size, would contribute to the decreased capacity to make
valid and reliable inferences about the population under study. Another
limitation within this study, related to the first, was that the use of
tertiary level students would not permit any solid generalizations to the
non-academic sections of the population, that is, those without tertiary
education or academic experience at a tertiary institution. Furthermore,
the use of gender as an ‘independent variable’ alone would not enhance the
quality of inferences and conclusions made. Gender is an ex post facto and
may be confounded with other variables, which may serve as alternative
explanations for any significant effects. One final limitation was based on
the fact that the scales developed for the six love styles were not as
reliable as those in past research (despite the use of similar items).

It must be asserted here that future research on mate selection and
attitudes toward love in the Caribbean adopt stratified, systematic and
other probability-based sampling designs in order to improve the
representativeness of the samples as well as the generalizations to larger
populations. These sampling designs would permit inferences across all
boundaries such as race, class, religion, age and of course educational
background. Future research in the Caribbean must create (and pre-test) new
and culturally relevant scales and indexes on love and sexual behaviour in
order to enhance reliability and validity of these instruments as well as
to reduce dependence on internationally created and culturally irrelevant
scales and indexes. Finally, future research needs to include other
important variables, along with gender, to ascertain multivariate effects
and interactions to improve the value of various analyses, interpretations
and generalizations.

In conclusion, it must be recognized that the engine behind mate
selection preferences and the attitudes toward love cannot be fully
appreciated without the acknowledgement of social, cultural, historical and
economic conditions in which Bahamian men and women reside.


Research question 1
Do men and women differ significantly in their trait preferences regarding
mate selection?
A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to assess
the affect of gender on the thirteen trait preferences (i.e. an addictive
combination of these multiple dependant variables). A significant
multivariate difference was found between men and women, F (13, 126)=6.32,
p

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