Trophy wives may be nothing but a myth perpetuated by sexist research, according to a new study. Researcher Elizabeth Aura McClintock of Notre Dame reviewed the data from a large set of young adult heterosexual couples, looking to find out how people really choose their partners. She looked into two different reasons that drive pairing up – matching and exchange. Matching is a search for a partner who is similar in education levels, looks and other traits. Exchange is more the more “trophy wife”-style notion of a person trading their looks or status for a partner who has something they don’t.
Surprisingly, she found that in the past people have misinterpreted the evidence of exchange relationships. In examining couples, researchers only looked at the women’s appearance and the men’s status and disregarded data on women’s status or men’s attractiveness. They were so certain they’d find a specific result (in this case, proof of exchange relationships) that the studies were skewed. More problematic to the skewed data is the fact that rich people are more likely to be good-looking, and vice-versa. (The reasons for that correlation open a whole other can of worms about whether being pretty makes it easier to get rich in the first place, but that’s another post for another day). Keep reading »