What men and women wanted in a spouse in 1939 — and how different it is today

Ana Swanson
Tuesday 19 April 2016 19:53
Comments

Think about how your grandmother met your grandfather.

She probably didn't swipe right because of an amusing description in his Tinder profile. Dating has changed hugely over the past generations, and so have cultural ideas about what men and women value most in a mate.

This idea is perfectly illustrated by a chart that economist Max Roser, who created the blog Our World in Data, recently put out on Twitter.

The chart is made with data from a study published in the Journal of Family Issues in 2013, in which three researchers compared how heterosexual men and women ranked the importance of 18 traits in wives and husbands; first in 1939, and then again in 2008.

So how did views evolve over nearly 70 years?

First, the traits that people value more today. The lines on the left in green indicate the traits that rose in importance over the years. For both men and women, mutual attraction and love rose up the ranks, to become the most highly ranked trait in 2008. (In 1939, women ranked “dependable character” as the most important quality in a prospective husband, while men chose emotional stability and maturity.)

Here's the chart showing what women said they want, in 1939 and 2008:

And what men said they wanted:

 Max Roser, Our World in Data

For both sexes, education and intelligence, good looks, good financial prospect, sociability, a similar education background and a similar political background all rose in the ranks over the years.

Women ranked a favorable social status for their partner more highly in 2008 than in 1939. Interestingly, men rated a woman’s desire for home and children and good cooking and housekeeping more highly over time — perhaps because these qualities were no longer taken for granted in a wife.

Then there are the traits that declined in importance, shown in red on Roser's chart. For both men and women, the importance of chastity nose-dived, from #10 in 1939 to #18 in 2008.

Here is Roser's chart, showing what women said they wanted in 1939 and 2008:

And here is the same chart for men:

Emotional stability and maturity, a pleasing disposition, good health, and refinement and neatness also declined for both sexes.

For women, a similar religious background and a desire for home and children became less important in their mates, while men placed less value on ambition and industriousness in their wives.

Copyright: Washington Post

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in