Mate selection criteria for humans, and the concept of deception as a mating strategy, have both been demonstrated by past research. This study provides evidence that men and women believe that the mate selection criteria used by one sex corresponds to the deceptive tactics used by the opposite sex. A survey of the deceptive techniques used by men and women was completed by 62 women and 30 men.
Results showed that both men and women believe that men attempt to deceive women about their financial status and level of commitment, and that women attempt to deceive men about their physical attractiveness. Thus, both sexes expect deception by the opposite sex in evolutionary relevant areas of mate choice. These results support the theory that men and women attempt to deceive potential mates about evolutionary relevant characteristics, but the opposite sex is aware of these likely deceptions.
From an evolutionary perspective, finding and keeping a mate requires that individuals display their resources, especially those aspects of one's self that are likely to attract a desirable partner (Buss, 1988a). In general, researchers have found that men look for youth and beauty in a partner, while women look for a partner with financial status and likelihood of longterm commitment (Buss, 1989; Buss et al., 1990; Hatfield & Sprecher, 1995). These gender differences seem to occur as human beings are selected through evolution to respond to specific external cues provided by the opposite sex. These cues relate in large part to the different reproductive benefits of mating that men and women experience. Women gain more reproductive benefits from mating with a partner who has the resources and attentiveness to help raise their offspring, while men reap more reproductive benefits from mating with as many women as possible who have high childbearing potential (Buss, 1994). Differences in reproductive benefits lead to different mate preferences by the two sexes. Men often seek such characteristics as physical attractiveness, youth, and health in women, while women may look for men with large present or potential resource-holding capabilities (Buss, 1985,1988b; Feingold, 1990,1992; Sprecher, Sullivan, & Hatfield, 1994).
Humans do not mate randomly (Buss, 1985) and effective strategies are essential for mating to be successful. One of the key mating strategies or tactics used by humans to compete for reproductively relevant resources is deception (Buss, 1988b; Keenan, Gallup, Goulet, & Kulkarni, 1997; Tooke & Camire, 1991). If one does not honestly possess the desired characteristics to attract a mate, then in order to obtain a mate, one must portray the image that he/she now, or will in the future, have these qualities. This image, to the extent that it is false, may require some skill in deception to make it believable to a potential mate.
Tooke and Camire (1991) found that men use deception more frequently with regard to financial resources, while women more often attempt to deceive men about their physical characteristics; a pattern of intersexual deception that coincides with the mate selection criteria of evolutionary theory. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that men will expect deception by women with regards to their physical characteristics, and that women will expect deception by men with regards to their financial resources.
Deception works best as a technique for acquiring a potential mate when individuals are not expecting it. To reduce our vulnerability to this type of deception, men and women may be particularly wary of information related to characteristics important to mate selection, especially information that suggests that the potential partner possesses highly desirable characteristics. Keenan et al. (1997) found that women expect men to be more deceptive, and to use the most deception about their resources, or financial characteristics. Their findings were based on a survey that asked the participants to rate deception strategies used by the opposite gender when dating. The survey questions addressed financial resources, commitment, and physical characteristics. The results of Keenan et al. showed that women predicted that men would be deceptive about financial characteristics, whereas, men did not predict that women would be deceptive about financial characteristics. Women also predicted that men would be deceptive about commitment, whereas men did not predict that women would be deceptive about commitment. Oddly, their results showed no tendency for men to assume that women deceive men about their physical attractiveness to a greater extent than about commitment or finances. This last result seems to conflict with evolutionary theory. However, this may have been due to the small number of men in their study.
The first purpose of our study was to replicate the Keenan et al. (1997) research, using a larger sample size, in order to determine if men believe that women will be deceptive about their physical appearance. The second purpose was to discover not only the intersexual attributions of deception but also the intrasexual attributions. Sexual selection theory holds that individuals must not only attract members of the opposite sex but that they must also compete with members of their own sex for the best mates (Buss, 1994). Therefore, we predict that because women have more to lose in terms of mating mistakes, they will not only be more wary of male deception, but because of competition, they will also be more wary of female deception.
Participants were 92 (62 women, 30 men) undergraduate students from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 41 (M = 21). Participants were recruited from introductory level psychology classes and participated in order to get extra credit or fulfill course requirements.
The two questionnaires used items from the deception survey used by Keenan et al. (1997). The questionnaires were identical, except that one questionnaire asked participants if men would engage in particular behaviors to deceive women, while the parallel form of the questionnaire asked if women would engage in particular behaviors to deceive men. For example, the first item on Form 1 states On a date, females would lead males to believe they are more interested in raising children than they actually are," while on Form 2 the item is worded as "On a date, males would lead females to believe they are more interested in raising children than they actually are." Each form of the questionnaire consisted of 15 items, dealing with three issues in a relationship; commitment, physical appearance, and financial status (cf. Keenan et al., see Table 1). Participants rated each item on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree).
Included on each form were four forced-choice items that asked the participant to select from two forms of deception the most likely to be used by either a man or a woman (see Tables 2 & 3). Thus, each participant completed a questionnaire about potentially deceptive behaviors used by the opposite sex, and another questionnaire about the deceptive behaviors used by the same sex.
Design and Procedure
A 2 x 2 mixed-subjects design was used, with sex of the participant and gender of the person referred to in each of the questionnaires as the independent variables. The participants' rating of the likelihood that men and women would engage in a deceptive practice was the dependent variable. The surveys were administered to the participants in small groups. The experimenter instructed the participants to first complete the Likert-scaled items, then the forced-choice items. The overall expectation of deception was used as the measure of general wariness, while the expectations of deception by the opposite sex on specific issues was used to test the evolutionary hypothesis.
Participants answered eight questions that used the forced-choice format; four concerning men, and four concerning women. These forcedchoice questions are displayed in Table 2 for men and Table 3 for women. Data from each forced-choice format question were cast into a 2 (Participant Sex) x 2 (Response Choice) contingency table, and analyzed first using chi-square contingency tests, followed by chi-square goodness-of-fit tests for men and women separately.