Men's and women's ideas of the perfect mate differ significantly due to evolutionary pressures. A new study has revealed that a man favors a mate who is younger and physically attractive, while women seek older mates with good financial prospects, higher status and ambition across cultures.
Co-author of the study David Buss, psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin in the US, said, "Many want to believe that women and men are identical in their underlying psychology, but the genders differ strikingly in their evolved mate preferences in some domains. The same holds true in highly sexually egalitarian cultures such as Sweden and Norway as in less egalitarian cultures such as Iran."
For the study, researchers studied 4,764 men and 5,389 women in 33 countries and 37 cultures. They found that sex differences in mate preferences are much larger than previously appreciated and stable across cultures. Researchers found that they could predict a person's sex with 92.2% accuracy if they knew his or her mate preferences. The findings suggest that these patterns of mate preferences are far more linked to gender than any individual mate preference examined separately would suggest.
Lead study author Daniel Conroy-Beam, graduate researcher at The University of Texas at Austin, said, "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. Because women bear the cost of pregnancy and lactation, they often faced the adaptive problem of acquiring resources to produce and support offspring, while men faced adaptive problems of identifying fertile partners and sought cues to fertility and future reproductive value."
Of the 19 mate preferences that the research team 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.
The study is published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.