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Gender And Mate Preference: Differences Based On Evolutionary Pressures

First Posted: Aug 09, 2015 11:22 PM EDT
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A cross-cultural study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reveal that men and women's ideas of the perfect mate are significantly different based on evolutionary pressures.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin studied 4,764 men and 5,389 women in 33 countries and 37 cultures, showing that six differences in mate prefers were much larger that previously appreciated and stable across countries.

Furthermore, the researchers suggested that certain patterns of mate preferences are far more linked to gender than any individual mate preference examined separately. For instance, researchers discovered that they could predict a person's sex with 92.2 percent accuracy based on his or her mate preferences.

"The large overall difference between men's and women's mate preferences tells us that the sexes must have experienced dramatically different challenges in the mating domain throughout human evolution," said lead author and graduate researcher Daniel Conroy-Beam, in a news release.

The study revealed that while men typically favor mates who are physically attractive and younger, women are more likely to seek those who are older with good financial prospects, ambition and a somewhat higher status.

The study noted the following regarding results, courtesy of the release: "Of the 19 mate preferences that researchers considered, five varied significantly based on gender: good financial prospects, physical attractiveness, chastity, ambition and age. Four other preferences -- pleasing disposition, sociability and shared religious and political views -- were not sex-differentiated."

"Few decisions impact reproduction more than mate choice," Conroy-Beam concluded. "Mate preferences will therefore be a central target and driver of biological evolution. We have found some promising initial results, and we think this holistic approach will help answer a lot of questions in mating research in the future."

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