• Dejan Kantar Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Banja Luka
  • Marija Zotović Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad
  • Siniša Subotić Department of Psychology & Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University



attachment dimensions, early adulthood, expressive traits, ideal partner, instrumental traits


The first aim of this study was to examine which psychological characteristics of an ideal partner are valued by female and male individuals in the early adulthood. The second goal is to determine whether the potential differences in the preferences regarding the traits of an ideal partner can be predicted by attachment-related anxiety and attachment-related avoidance. A convinient sample comprised 279 heterosexual students (51.6% girls), average age 20.33 years, who completed the Serbian Version of Modified and Revised Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (SM-ECR-R) and the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI), which was used as a measure of the desirable partner traits. The results show that females and males are mostly in agreement regarding the desirability of the ideal partner traits. They chose both expressive and instrumental traits, with a stronger preference for the former. Both females and males consider emotionally expressive individuals to be more desirable ideal partners, whith females describing their ideal partners through higher values on the measures of social dominance and emotional expressiveness.When individual differences are considered through two attachment dimensions, the results indicate that higher preference for social dominance is predicted by lower avoidance and lower anxiety, while higher preference for emotional expressiveness is predicted by lower avoidance and higher anxiety. This confirms the usefulness of the attachment theory in explaining the ideal partner traits preferences, although the usefulness is higher for the explaination of emotional expressiveness than social domination.


Metrics Loading ...


Abele, A. E., & Wojciszke, B. (2007). Agency and communion from the perspective of self versus others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(5), 751–763.

Atari, M., & Jamali, R. (2016). Dimensions of women’s mate preferences. Evolutionary Psychology, 14(2), 1−10.

Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226−244.

Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42(2), 155–162.

Bem, S. L. (1981). A manual for the Bem sex role inventory. Consulting Psychologist Press.

Bem, S. L., & Lenney, E. (1976). Sex typing and the avoidance of crosssex behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(1), 48–54.

Benjamini, Y., & Hochberg, Y. (1995). Controlling the false discovery rate: A practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Methodological), 57(1), 289–300.

Bosak, J., Eagly, A., Diekman, A., & Sczesny, S. (2017). Women and men of the past, present, and future: evidence of dynamic gender stereotypes in Ghana. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(1), 115–129.

Botwin, M. D., Buss, D. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (1997). Personality and mate preferences: Five factors in mate selection and marital satisfaction. Journal of Personality, 65(1), 107−136.

Boxer, C. F., Noonan, M. C., & Whelan, C. B. (2013). Measuring mate preferences. Journal of Family Issues, 36(2), 163–187.

Brennan, K. A., Clark, C. L., & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Selfreport measurement of adult attachment: An integrative overview. In J. A. Simpson & W. S. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46–76). Guilford Press.

Brumbaugh, C. C., Baren, A., & Agishtein, P. (2014). Attraction to attachment insecurity: Flattery, appearance, and status’s role in mate preferences. Personal Relationships, 21(2), 288–308.

Buss, D. M., Abbott, M., Angleitner, A., Asherian, A., Biaggio, A., Blanco-Villasenor, A., … & Yang, K.-S. (1990). International preferences in selecting mates. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 21(1), 5–47.

Buss, D. M., Shackelford, T. K., Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Larsen, R. J. (2001). A half century of mate preferences: The cultural evolution of values. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(2), 491–503.

Choi, N., & Fuqua, D. R. (2003). The structure of the Bem sex role inventory: A summary report of 23 validation studies. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 63(5), 872–887.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

De Winter, J. F. C., & Dodou, D. (2010). Five-point Likert items: t test versus Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon (Addendum added October 2012). Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 15(11), 1−16. Retrieved from:

Delacre, M., Lakens, D., & Leys, C. (2017). Why psychologists should by default use Welch’s t‒test instead of student’s t‒test. International Review of Social Psychology, 30(1), 92‒101.

Diekman, A. B., & Eagly, A. H. (2000). Stereotypes as dynamic constructs: Women and men of the past, present, and future. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(10), 1171–1188.

Domingue, R., & Mollen, D. (2009). Attachment and conflict communication in adult romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(5), 678−696. 10.1177/0265407509347932

Feeney, J. A. (1999). Adult romantic attachment and couple relationships. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 355–377). Guilford Press.

Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 878–902.

Fletcher, G. J. O., Simpson, J. A., Thomas, G., & Giles, L. (1999). Ideals in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(1), 72−89.

Fraley, R. C., Waller, N. G., & Brennan, K. A. (2000). An item response theory analysis of self-report measures of adult attachment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(2), 350–365.

Green, B. L., & Kenrick, D. T. (1994). The attractiveness of gender-typed traits at different relationship levels: Androgynous characteristics may be desirable after all. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(3), 244–253.

Haines, E. L., Deaux, K., & Lofaro, N. (2016). The times they are a-changing … or are they not? A comparison of gender stereotypes, 40(3), 1983–2014. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 40(3), 353–363.

Hanak, N., & Dimitrijevic, A. (2013). A Serbian version of modified and revised experiences in close relationships scale (SM–ECR–R). Journal of Personality Assessment, 95(5), 530–538.

Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. R. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511–524.

Holmes, B. M., & Johnson, K. R. (2009). Adult attachment and romantic partner preference: A review. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(6−7), 833−852.

Hooper, D., Coughlan, J., & Mullen, M. (2008). Structural equation modelling: Guidelines for determining model fit. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 6(1), 53−60.

Kachel, S., Steffens, M. C., & Niedlich, C. (2016). Traditional Masculinity and Femininity: Validation of a New Scale Assessing Gender Roles. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.

Levy, G. D., Taylor, M. G., & Gelman, S. A. (1995). Traditional and evaluative aspects of flexibility in gender roles, social conventions, moral rules, and physical laws. Child Development, 66, 515–531.

Lippa, R. A. (2007). The preferred traits of mates in a cross-national study of heterosexual and homosexual men and women: An examination of biological and cultural influences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36(2), 193–208.

Maznah, I., & Choo, P. F. (1986). The Factor Structure of the Bern Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI). International Journal of Psychology, 21(1–4), 31–41.

Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2016). Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics and change. Guilford Press.

Montgomery, M. J. (2005). Psychosocial intimacy and identity. Journal of Adolescent Research, 20(3), 346–374.

Moreland, J. R., Gulanick, N., Montague, E. K., & Harren, V. A. (1978). Some psychometric properties of the Bem sex-role inventory. Applied Psychological Measurement, 2(2), 249–256.

Norman, G. (2010). Likert scales, levels of measurement and the “laws” of statistics. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 15(5), 625−632.

Pedhazur, E. J., & Tetenbaum, T. J. (1979). Bem Sex Role Inventory: A theoretical and methodological critique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(6), 996–1016.

Rosseel, Y. (2012). lavaan: An R package for structural equation modeling. Journal of Statistical Software, 48(2), 1−36.

Sadikaj, G., Moskowitz, D. S., & Zuroff, D. C. (2016). Negative affective reaction to partner’s dominant behavior influences satisfaction with romantic relationship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34(8), 1324–1346.

Shackelford, T. K., Schmitt, D. P., & Buss, D. M. (2005). Universal dimensions of human mate preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 39(2), 447–458.

Simpson, J. A., Fletcher, G. J. O., & Campbell, L. (2001). The structure and function of ideal standards in close relationships. In G. J. O. Fletcher & M. Clark (Eds.), Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Interpersonal Processes (pp. 86–106). Oxford: Blackwell.

Snyder, J. K., Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Barrett, H. C. (2008). The dominance dilemma: Do women really prefer dominant mates? Personal Relationships, 15(4), 425–444.

Stefanović Stanojević, T. (2011). Afektivna vezanost: razvoj, modaliteti i procena. Filozofski fakultet u Nišu.

Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man 1871−1971 (pp. 136–179). Aldine.

Vuletić, G. i Vuletić, T. (2017). Opažanje današnjeg muškarca i osobine poželjnog partnera s obzirom na konstrukte maskulinosti i femininosti. Psihološka istraživanja, 20(2), 273–289.

Waters, C. W., Waters, L. K., & Pincus, S. (1977). Factor analysis of masculine and feminine sex-typed items from the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Psychological Reports, 40(2), 567–570.




How to Cite

Kantar, D., Zotović, M., & Subotić, S. (2020). SEX DIFFERENCES IN PREFERENCES FOR AN IDEAL PARTNER CHARACTERISTICS AND ROLE OF ATTACHMENT. Primenjena Psihologija, 13(2), 191–209.




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>