A new study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, examined the link between a prostitute's age and the price she charges. At first blush, it might seem easy to dismiss such a study as appealing to narrow prurient interests. But the author, economist Kitae Sohn, used prostitutes' earnings to address a much broader scientific question, one that applies not only to paid sexual exchanges, but to everyday concerns that many of us obsess about at some point in our lives: What does the opposite sex actually find attractive in a partner?
If we simply survey you and ask what you desire in a mate, as some researchers have done, your answers might be biased to make you look good. Even if we examine actual marriages, we can't be sure those reveal people's true preferences—most people marry someone of their own socioeconomic status, for example, but that is influenced not only by what a person wants, but by what he or she can get. Maybe everyone wants a wealthy and stunningly attractive partner, but it is easier to find and attract someone of your own SES and attractiveness level.
When asked, most people express a preference to marry someone around their own age. Social scientists used to presume that this is simply another example of the similarity-attraction rule (the idea that I want to marry someone who matches me in as many ways as possible—political beliefs, religion, height, and so on). But when researchers looked more carefully, they found that age preferences raised some interesting exceptions to the similarity rule. Women often marry much older men, for example. Conversely, older men often marry much younger women. And survey data revealed another discrepancy: high school boys said they would be quite interested in college-age women, even though they knew they were very unlikely to attract those older women. So the teenagers' preferences were violating two supposed generalizations: that people generally desire similar others, and that men desire younger partners.Read More: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201607/link-between-prostitutes-age-and-her-income