Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sex differences in mate preferences

Something from the "That doesn't really surprise me department":

Is Traditional Gender Ideology Associated with Sex-Typed Mate Preferences? A Test in Nine Nations - 2006

As expected, these data replicated well-known sex differences in mate preferences: In general, women preferred
a mate older than themselves, men preferred a mate younger than themselves, women placed greater importance
on financial prospects in a mate, and men placed greater importance on good cook and housekeeper qualities in a
mate. Also, even with this small sample of nations, these cross-national data replicated the finding that the sex
difference in the preferred age of one’s mate decreased with increasing gender equality (Eagly & Wood, 1999).

At the participant level of analysis, these data confirmed our predictions about the relationship between traditional
gender ideology and mate preferences. First, for preferred age difference in a mate, all four forms of traditional gender ideology were associated with sex-typed preferences: Women with traditional attitudes preferred an older mate than did women with less traditional attitudes, whereas men with traditional attitudes preferred a younger mate than did men with less traditional attitudes. These men’s and women’s associations were significantly different from one another. Second, although traditional gender ideology was positively associated with the importance of good financial prospects in a mate for both men and women, for three of the four ideology measures it was a stronger predictor of women’s preferences. Third, although traditional gender ideology was positively associated with the importance of good cook and housekeeper qualities in a mate for both men and women, for three of the four ideology measures it was a stronger predictor of men’s preferences. In addition, an ipsative analysis revealed results consistent with the social role logic: To the extent that participants held traditional gender ideologies, women preferred good financial prospects in a mate more than other characteristics and men preferred a good cook and housekeeper more than other characteristics. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that traditional attitudes toward the roles of men and women serve to guide mate choice by fostering sex-typed mate preferences.


  1. Or indeed the findings could "lend support" to the exact alernative hypothesis that attraction has little to do with traditional attitudes and much to do with evolutionary biology...

    I'm starting to wonder if psychologists could do with lessons in concepts like "logic" and "scientific method". Years of research are spent on studies that "could support a hypothesis" or equally might not...


  2. Na na na, don't be so harsh :)

    There are often many ways to look at an issue. Also they talked about evolutionary biology in their piece. It is just a part I did not quote. So, just for you (copy and pasted but not edited):

    Evolutionary Psychology as a Theory of Mate Selection
    One influential theory of mate selection does not assume a
    relationship between preferences for certain qualities in a
    mate and gender ideology. Specifically, evolutionary psychologists
    have contended that these sex differences in
    mate preferences reflect the unique adaptive problems
    experienced by men and women as they evolved (e.g.,
    Buss, 1989; Kenrick, Trost, & Sundie, 2004). The sexes
    presumably developed different strategies to ensure their
    survival and to maximize their reproductive success. Buss
    and his colleagues interpreted the results of the 37 cultures
    study (Buss, 1989) as providing evidence that sex differences
    in preferred mate characteristics are universal and
    therefore reflect evolved tendencies that are general to the
    human species. However, demonstrations of systematic
    cross-cultural variation in the magnitude of sex differences
    have raised questions about this interpretation (Eagly &
    Wood, 1999; Kasser & Sharma, 1999).
    Evolutionary psychologists have given some attention to
    within-sex individual differences in preferences and behavior,
    although they have not acknowledged the importance of
    gender ideology or other predictors derived from social role
    theory (but see Schmitt, 2005). In general, they have
    conceptualized individual differences in terms of “conditional
    universals” that reflect contingent evolved dispositions,
    with alternative forms of a disposition triggered by
    particular environments and developmental experiences
    (e.g., Gangestad & Simpson, 2000; Geary, 2000). Given
    that the environments of our respondents differ considerably
    across the nine nations of our sample, perhaps a
    contingency explanation could be crafted for betweennations
    differences in mating preferences, but it is doubtful
    that such an explanation would also account for individual
    differences within nations in samples composed largely of
    university students.
    In critiques of role predictors, evolutionary psychologists
    have noted that women’s preferences for resources in mates
    are unrelated to their own economic resources (e.g., Kenrick
    & Keefe, 1992; Townsend, 1989). For example, Wiederman
    and Allgeier (1992) found that women who themselves
    anticipated a high income still valued financial resources in
    their mates. However, given strong tendencies for people to
    marry within their own socioeconomic group—that is,
    homogamy in relation to education, occupation, and social
    class—men as well as women who themselves have higher
    income generally select partners from their own higher
    socioeconomic group (e.g., Kalmijn, 1994, 1998; Mare,
    1991). Moreover, women’s economic prospects have become
    a positive predictor of their marriage prospects in the
    United States in recent decades, with men and women
    demonstrating similar positive relations between their
    earnings and marriage (Sweeney, 2002). Some greater
    importance of earnings to men’s marital prospects remains,
    however, probably because, consistent with gender role
    expectations, many women even in industrialized nations
    still regard themselves as secondary wage earners within
    their families.

  3. I am beginning to concern if psychologists can do with courses in concepts such as "logic" and also "scientific method". Many years of research tend to be utilized on tests that "can assistance a hypothesis" or perhaps similarly may well not...

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