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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Is Our Political Identity Overtaking Our Religious Identity When Choosing a Mate?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Stephanie Coontz’s provocative opinion piece in today’s New York Times touches on some interesting dilemmas facing men and women in modern America. It’s well worth reading and is a fun conversation starter with your spouse and parents. But, it was the above infographic accompanying Coontz’s commentary that caught this editor’s eye.
For the most part, the top five traits that men look for in potential wives have changed very little in 70 years. In 1939, the five most important qualities were:
Dependable character
Emotional stability, maturity
Pleasing disposition
Mutual attraction, love
Good health
And, in 2008:
Mutual attraction, love
Dependable character
Emotional stability, maturity
Education, intelligence
Pleasing disposition
The big mover: education and  intelligence. It climbed from #11 to #4. Good health dropped two positions, and I suspect will plummet further down the list in the coming decades. The romantic in me is heartened to see that love and attraction are sitting atop the field.
For the purposes of this blog, though, the precipitous drop in having a similar religious background and the slight rise in men seeking a woman whose political background is similar to his own is intriguing. It seems men’s personal identities are mirroring our larger cultural identity. As U.S. society has become increasingly divided and hyper-partisan in political terms, men are assigning more value to having a like-minded partner in the political persuasion department. Will this trait continue to rise in importance? I hope not.
Source: “Measuring Mate Preferences: A Replication and Extension” by Christine B. Whelan, University of Pittsburgh, and Christie F. Boxer and Mary Noonan, University of Iowa

Is Our Political Identity Overtaking Our Religious Identity When Choosing a Mate?

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Stephanie Coontz’s provocative opinion piece in today’s New York Times touches on some interesting dilemmas facing men and women in modern America. It’s well worth reading and is a fun conversation starter with your spouse and parents. But, it was the above infographic accompanying Coontz’s commentary that caught this editor’s eye.

For the most part, the top five traits that men look for in potential wives have changed very little in 70 years. In 1939, the five most important qualities were:

  1. Dependable character
  2. Emotional stability, maturity
  3. Pleasing disposition
  4. Mutual attraction, love
  5. Good health

And, in 2008:

  1. Mutual attraction, love
  2. Dependable character
  3. Emotional stability, maturity
  4. Education, intelligence
  5. Pleasing disposition

The big mover: education and intelligence. It climbed from #11 to #4. Good health dropped two positions, and I suspect will plummet further down the list in the coming decades. The romantic in me is heartened to see that love and attraction are sitting atop the field.

For the purposes of this blog, though, the precipitous drop in having a similar religious background and the slight rise in men seeking a woman whose political background is similar to his own is intriguing. It seems men’s personal identities are mirroring our larger cultural identity. As U.S. society has become increasingly divided and hyper-partisan in political terms, men are assigning more value to having a like-minded partner in the political persuasion department. Will this trait continue to rise in importance? I hope not.

Source: “Measuring Mate Preferences: A Replication and Extension” by Christine B. Whelan, University of Pittsburgh, and Christie F. Boxer and Mary Noonan, University of Iowa

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