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 August 29, 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 August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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