What Is the Most Desirable Quality in a Partner?

Kindness takes the top spot in a new international study

Zara Zareen
4 min readOct 6, 2019


Across the world, what do people consider the most important quality in a partner?

According to new research by psychologists at the University of Swansea, both men and women place the highest value on kindness.

The international study, published in Journal of Personality, investigated how people prioritize various characteristics when looking for their ideal mate.

The study is thought to be the largest and most diverse of its kind to date. The final sample comprised almost 2,500 participants, from countries including the US, UK, Australia and Norway, as well as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The method

Participants in the study were given a fixed budget of “mate dollars”, and asked to design their perfect partner by “buying” their preferred levels of desirable attributes.

People could spend “mate dollars” on the following qualities:

  • physical attractiveness
  • good financial prospects
  • humor
  • creativity
  • kindness
  • religiosity
  • chastity
  • the desire to have children

By recording how participants chose to spend their “mate dollars” when so-called ‘money’ was tight, researchers identified the traits which most people considered “necessities.”

In contrast to “necessities”, “luxuries” were attributes that respondents were more likely to splurge on when they were given additional “mate dollars” to spend.

Overall, across countries, both sexes considered kindness the greatest “necessity” when choosing a mate. On average, when their budget was restricted, both men and women spent just under a quarter of their total “mate dollars” on this trait.

The study represents an interesting new development in mate selection research.