Psychologists reveal who Indians fall in love with – and why it’s different for the modern generation Dr Raj Persaud and Professor Adrian Furnham

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Psychologists reveal who Indians fall in love with – and why it’s different for the modern generation

 

Dr Raj Persaud and Professor Adrian Furnham

 

A new psychology study has investigated changing romance patterns on the sub-continent.

 

DSCN0560In some cases some of the contrasts in romantic preferences between Indian men and women, how they differ in what they are looking for, are found to be some of the largest differences between genders, compared to the rest of the world.

 

The authors of the study, from Karnatak University, India, Oakland University and University of Texas, Austin, United States, argue that in contrast to the traditional ‘arranged’ marriage, modern Indians now choose who they marry, so are they going for different features compared to the past?

 

 

The study compared 536 modern Indians with 105 Indians studied a quarter of a century earlier, uncovering preferences for mutual attraction and love remained important, and didn’t change over time, despite India’s history of arranged marriages. This suggests that wherever you are in the world and no matter what traditions surround getting married – falling in love remains important to everyone.

 

 

In the 1980’s the study found that  the age at which Indians preferred to marry differed significantly between men (27 years old on average) and women (23 years old on average). A similar sex difference in contemporary Indians was also found (men: 28 years old; women: 25 years old). These gender differences pertain all across the world, but it is intriguing that the preferred age of getting married is getting older for both Indian men and women, and is definitely increasing further for Indian women.

 

Both Indian men and women in more recent generations increased the importance they attach to ‘‘ambition and industriousness’’ in a long-term mate. This shift may reflect an expanding middle class in modern India, in which upward economic mobility is attainable for a larger portion of the population.

 

The authors of the study, Shanmukh Kamble, Todd Shackelford, Michael Pham and David Buss argue that the trend away from arranged relationships might be most pronounced among India’s educated and middle class, which by one estimate will include 256 million people by the years 2015–2016.

 

Indian men from the current and past generations expressed a preference for a spouse who was younger than themselves (1980’s: 4.50 years younger on average; 2009: 3.9 years younger on average). Indian women preferred spouses who were older than themselves—4.2 and 3.3 years older for the 1980’s sample and current generation samples, respectively.

 

These sex differences are among the largest sex differences found in psychological research worldwide, suggesting that Indians might differ from the rest of the world in their preference for a much larger age gap between men and women getting married.

 

The study, entitled ‘Indian mate preferences: Continuity, sex differences, and cultural change across a quarter of a century’, argues that traditionally, men from any part of the globe, (more than women), value physical appearance in a partner. This is because appearance is linked to fertility in women.

 

As female fertility declines more sharply with age, perhaps this explains why men (more than women) prefer younger women, because men who preferred younger women were more likely to pass on more of their genes to future generations and so evolution favoured tis preference in men.

 

Women (more than men) must invest more emotional and biological resources in their offspring (e.g. nine months of pregnancy). So perhaps women (more than men) who favoured higher status wealthier men also passed on more of their genes though raising more children successfully. Evolution might favour women wanting their children to be well looked after, therefore preferring partners who are able to acquire and invest resources in them (men with money).

 

While these contrasts in preferences across men and women exist all over the world – they might be even more accentuated in India. In other words – status and resources in a man might be even more important to Indian women, while youthfulness could be even more important to Indian men, compared to the rest of the planet.

 

Indian women’s valuing of ‘‘good earning capacity,’’ ‘‘good financial prospects,’’ and the qualities linked with resource acquisition, notably ‘‘social status’’, ‘‘ambition and industriousness’’ and ‘‘education and intelligence’’ appear to be among the largest sex differences (relative to men) found across the planet.

 

Indian demographic data from 1982 reveal that the average age at first marriage for women was 19.3, whereas the average age at first marriage for men was 24.0. Indian brides were approximately 4.70 years younger, on average, than Indian grooms in 1982. But by 2011, the average Indian marriage age increased to 22.2 years for women and to 26.0 years for men.

 

This new study published in the journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’, found significant changes in preferences emerging since the 1980’s, including a greater preference in both Indian men and women for partners who are ‘‘creative and artistic,’’ ‘‘ambitious and industrious,’’ and ‘‘a good cook and housekeeper’’.

 

One interpretation is that Indians are getting fussier, and it’s no longer enough to just be good looking and rich.

 

The importance of ‘‘chastity’’ has increased in importance since the 1980’s, but only for Indian women looking for this in men. This finding differs from other countries, such as mainland China and the United States, both of which experienced marked decreases in the importance of chastity over the past few decades.

 

This could be interpreted as a particularly strong Indian female romantic sensibility to partnership – there is only one person on the planet right for me – perhaps fuelled by the intensely romantic Bollywood film industry?

 

But perhaps despite all the changes, Indians remain quite ‘traditional’ in their outlook when it comes to love and romance – the current study also found striking continuity of shared mate preferences from 1984 to 2009 – ‘‘kind and understanding’’ was the most desirable characteristic for both sexes at both time periods.

 

Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Harley Street, London UK and author of several best-selling books including ‘The Mind: A Users Guide’ published by Bantam Press. Professor Adrian Furnham is Professor of Psychology at University College London and one of the most published Psychologists in the world.

 

Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Harley Street, London UK and author of several best-selling books including ‘The Mind: A Users Guide’ published by Bantam Press. Professor Adrian Furnham is Professor of Psychology at University College London and one of the most published Psychologists in the world.

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

His books are available on amazon.co.uk here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mind-A-Users-Guide/dp/0593056353

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