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Mass-media marketing seems to strongly influence people's beliefs.

Are perceptions of beauty and the ideal partner mostly determined by what mass media proposes?

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Question seemed to be asking two questions at very different levels of generality. Given there were no answers, I've edited to focus on just one. Feel free to ask the more general question as a separate question if you wish. –  Jeromy Anglim Mar 3 at 4:57

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sexual attraction has mostly but not only a biological roots. Can this particular woman bear healthy children for me? Do I want this man? Can he be a good father? In a few seconds, someone can evaluate this simply in his/her mind (evaluate such factors as: height, weight, balance, hips, hair, smell, voice, how healthy the person looks, etc.)

Also, social factors have an influence on our expectations. Mass media is part of our life, we live in its circle, it forms our culture, makes trends, and influences the path we are making and choices in our life.

The power of influence depends on few factors: the place someone lives (open/close to mass media), the family (all we are from our childhood), and some basic physiological factors we were born with, etc.

Locus of control defines the orientation of a person (internal/external) while choosing the way of living. For some it's more important that their partners are good from the society view (from mass-media view); for others it's not so important.

From Wiki, not very close, but interesting:

Consumer research

Locus of control has also been applied to the field of consumer research. For example, Martin, Veer and Pervan (2007) examined how the weight locus of control of women (i.e., beliefs about the control of body weight) influence how they react to female models in advertising of different body shapes. They found that women who believe they can control their weight ("internals"), respond most favorably to slim models in advertising, and this favorable response is mediated by self-referencing. In contrast, women who feel powerless about their weight ("externals"), self-reference larger-sized models, but only prefer larger-sized models when the advertisement is for a non-fattening product. For fattening products, they exhibit a similar preference for larger-sized models and slim models. The weight locus of control measure was also found to be correlated with measures for weight control beliefs and willpower"

Also there is a good test: Locus of Control .

Your question can be answered simply; it has deep roots and looks interesting for me too. I'll try to find some more modern research to post here.

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Thanks! Can you explain me the meaning of "self-referencing"? –  Revious Mar 4 at 8:49
    
"Self-referencing", internal/external frame of reference mostly is using in NLP (meta programs). Its in some way close to Locus of control. As i dont really a fan of NLP, i cant say you good links to follow. –  user3375936 Mar 14 at 15:21

The 'hardwired' things we value in partners include not only physical and psychological suitability for procreating, but also social status. Thus, any visible indicators that we associate with high status are also perceived as sexy even if they don't have no direct match to anything else, and mass media can affect what properties indicators are perceived this way, by associating them with 'high social status' celebrities.

I believe the classic example used to illustrate this phenomenon is sun tan - a few centuries ago lack of sun tan used to illustrate high status (possibly because it demonstrated that you don't have to do physical work outdoors) and was perceived as attractive; and in 20th century sun tan used to illustrate high status (possibly because it demonstrated that you can spend your time vacationing in sunny climates) and was perceived as attractive. Nowadays tan is much less informative, but this shows how preferences can switch to opposite effects.

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