Assortative mating for adiposity, whereby levels of adiposity in romantic partners tend to be positively correlated, has implications for population health due to the combined effects of partners' levels of adiposity on fertility and/or offspring health. Although assortative preferences for cues of adiposity, whereby leaner people are inherently more attracted to leaner individuals, have been proposed as a factor in assortative mating for adiposity, there have been no direct tests of this issue. Because of this, and because of recent work suggesting that facial cues of adiposity convey information about others' health that may be particularly important for mate preferences, we tested the contribution of assortative preferences for facial cues of adiposity to assortative mating for adiposity (assessed from body mass index, BMI) in a sample of romantic couples. Romantic partners' BMIs were positively correlated and this correlation was not due to the effects of age or relationship duration. However, although men and women with leaner partners showed stronger preferences for cues of low levels of adiposity, controlling for these preferences did not weaken the correlation between partners' BMIs. Indeed, own BMI and preferences were uncorrelated. These results suggest that assortative preferences for facial cues of adiposity contribute little (if at all) to assortative mating for adiposity.
- assortative mating