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Jun 21, 2014 05:48 AM EDT

Notre Dame Researchers Debunk “Trophy Wife” Stereotype

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A University of Notre Dame study has debunked the "trophy wife" typecast myth.

Researchers said that young women are drawn toward a much older man because of his wealth or he is interested in her for her physical traits is largely a myth. The study found that couples who fit the label often match based on physical attractiveness and socio-economic status.

The myth values little about the partner's character and focuses more on appearance or income. The myth is triggered by "selective observation" that boosts sexist stereotypes and trivialises women's careers.

For the study, researchers surveyed a sample of young couples and rated for physical attractiveness.

"I find that handsome men partner with pretty women and successful men partner with successful women," sociologist Elizabeth McClintock said in a press release. "So, on average, high-status men do have better-looking wives, but this is because they themselves are considered better looking - perhaps because they are less likely to be overweight and more likely to afford braces, nice clothes and trips to the dermatologist."

"Secondly, the strongest force by far in partner selection is similarity - in education, race, religion and physical attractiveness."

McClintock said that there is not a tendency for women to trade beauty for money. Trophy marriages are uncommon in the society. For example Donald Trump's marriage to his third wife Melania Knauss.

Researchers said that there are several examples of rich men who are in a relationship with successful women. For example, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin both married highly talented women - one of whom has a PhD. and the other is a rich entrepreneur.

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