When it comes to picking a partner, both men and women prefer playful adults. Anthropologist Garry Chick from Pennsylvania State University recently developed a theory that playfulness in adults is a desirable trait in sexual selection: To women, it indicates a low level of aggression in men and to men vitality in women.
Now, Rene Proyer and Lisa Wagner from the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich show in a study that playfulness also plays an important role in the choice of a partner in the European culture.
The UZH researchers conducted their follow-up study with 327 young adults from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The participants were asked to examine a list of 16 characteristics and indicate whether or not they found them desirable in a future or potential partner for long-term relationships. The results showed that men and women largely agreed in their orders of preference - although there were differences in individual ratings: Women found a sense of humor more important than men and men found an exciting personality more important than women.
Friendliness, intelligence, humor and a fun tendency came at the top of the list. Playfulness ranked mid-table, although not all that far behind the favorites. Psychologist Proyer explained that hence the personality trait also seemed important for the choice of partner at least more so than the partner having a degree, good genes or being religious.
Further analyses also revealed that participants who described themselves as playful also valued playfulness, humor, a laid-back attitude, a fun tendency and creativity among potential partners themselves. And the participants who were in relationships assessed themselves as more playful than those who were currently single.