Men’s and women’s ideas of the perfect mate differ significantly due to evolutionary pressures, according to a cross-cultural study on multiple mate preferences by psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin. The study of 4,764 men and 5,389 women in 33 countries and 37 cultures showed that sex differences in mate preferences are much larger than previously appreciated and stable across cultures. “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,” said co-author of the study and psychology professor David Buss. “The same holds true in highly sexually egalitarian cultures such as Sweden and Norway as in less egalitarian cultures such as Iran.”
According to the study, men favor mates who are younger and physically attractive. Women seek older mates with good financial prospects, higher status and ambition. 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. The study “How sexually dimorphic are human mate preferences?” was published in the August 2015 issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.