Publication Date

Summer 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Arlene Asuncion


gender, physical attractiveness, socioeconomic status, tradeoff threshold model

Subject Areas

Social psychology; Social research; Evolution & development


The tradeoff threshold model posits that in a heterosexual relationship, high socioeconomic status (SES) can compensate for physical unattractiveness in men, whereas physical attractiveness can compensate for low SES in women. In the present study, we attempted to provide evidence for the tradeoff threshold model. Ninety-six heterosexual participants viewed eight high and low attractive male or female stimuli photographs each attached with high or low SES descriptions. Average physical attractiveness ratings were analyzed in a 2 (physical attractiveness: high and low) x 2 (SES: high and low) repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) for each gender. Women rated low SES men as more attractive than high SES men. No main effect of physical attractiveness or interaction between physical attractiveness and SES was found for women viewing men. Men provided higher ratings of attractiveness for stimuli depicting highly attractive women compared to low attractive women. Men also rated high SES women as more attractive than low SES women. Additionally, there was a significant interaction between physical attractiveness and SES. Men rated low attractive women attached with a high SES as more attractive than low attractive women attached with a low SES. Overall, we were able to provide support for the tradeoff threshold model in our analyses for men, but we were unable to confirm the model’s applicability to women within our sample.