Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gender equality influences how people choose their partners

Date:
September 5, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Men and women clearly have different strategies for picking sexual partners, but the reason why differences exist is less clear. The classic explanation for these differences has been that men's and women's brains have evolved to make certain choices, but a new study suggests that evolution is only part of the answer.

Men and women clearly have different strategies for picking sexual partners, but the reason why differences exist is less clear. The classic explanation for these differences has been that men's and women's brains have evolved to make certain choices, but a new study in Psychological Science, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that evolution is only part of the answer.

To be a 'success' in evolutionary terms, women need to have access to resources for raising offspring, and men need to have access to fertile females. Researchers have argued that women tend to prefer partners who have an ability to invest resources in their children (i.e., wealthy men), and men tend to prefer partners who appear fertile (i.e., young women) because evolutionary adaptations have programmed these preferences in our brains.

But in the modern world, 'success' is not necessarily tied to offspring, so researchers Marcel Zentner and Klaudia Mitura of the University of York in the UK hypothesized that the influence of evolutionary biases on mate choice would decline proportionally with nations' gender parity, or the equality between men and women.

"There was accumulating evidence that gender differences in mental abilities, such as math performance, vanish in gender-equal societies," said Zentner. But he and his fellow researchers wanted to see if they could observe the same trend for selecting sexual partners.

Zentner and Mitura had 3,177 respondents complete an online mate preference survey from 10 countries ranking from a low (Finland) to a high (Turkey) gender gap in terms of the Global Gender Gap Index (GGI) -- a measure that was recently introduced by World Economic Forum to iron out shortcomings of earlier gender parity measures. The participants were asked in their native language whether certain criteria -- such as as financial prospects and being a good cook -- were important considerations when choosing a mate.

They found that the gender difference in mate preferences predicted by evolutionary psychology models "is highest in gender-unequal societies, and smallest in the most gender-equal societies," according to Zentner.

These results were confirmed in a second study based on mate preferences reported by 8,953 volunteers from 31 nations. Again, Zentner and Mitura found that there were fewer differences between men and women's preferences in more gender-equal nations compared to less gender-equal nations.

Because increasing gender equality reduces gender differences in mate selection, these studies indicate that the strategies men and women use to choose mates may not be as hardwired as scientists originally thought.

"These findings challenge the idea proposed by some evolutionary psychologists that gender differences in mate-preferences are determined by evolved adaptations that became biologically embedded in the male and female brain," says Zentner.

But he also adds evolutionary roots shouldn't be ruled out entirely.

"Indeed, the capacity to change behaviors and attitudes relatively quickly in response to societal changes may itself be driven by an evolutionary program that rewards flexibility over rigidity."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Zentner, K. Mitura. Stepping Out of the Caveman's Shadow: Nations' Gender Gap Predicts Degree of Sex Differentiation in Mate Preferences. Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612441004

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Gender equality influences how people choose their partners." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905135340.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, September 5). Gender equality influences how people choose their partners. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905135340.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Gender equality influences how people choose their partners." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905135340.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins