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  • Created by: lauren
  • Created on: 27-04-14 16:40



aimed to investigate the evolutionary explanation of sex differences in human mate preferences
if such behaviours are innate we would expect them to be the same in different cultures - buss therefore compared different cultures


  •  predictions based on parental investment and sexual selection theory - women are choosier when picking a partner (food,territory,shelter,protection) want resources
  • predicitons based on fertility and reproductive value- youthfulness indicates fertility, smooth skin, shiny hair, full lips, high energy level. used by men-future reproductive
  • predicitions based on  paternity probability- women prefer men who dont share their resources, help raise their children EEA men prefer chastity
  • males and females value different characteristics in a partner, relecting different selection pressures in the EEA and also demonstrates the current direction of sexual selection.
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  • Sample- analysed 37 samples from 33 countries, total of 10,047. The mean sample size was272 participants, aged 16.96-28.71. the mean age was 23.05 years
    • sampling techniques varied oppurtunity - Estonia: couples applying for marriage license and systematic - Venezuela; every 5th household in a serious of neighbourhoods and volunteer - West Germany; newspaper adverts
  • Data Collection- mainly collected by naive residents of each country who were unaware of the central hypothesis of the investigation
  • The Questionnaire- two
    • 1- part 1 collected biographical data
      • part 2 mate preferences, preferred age to marry, preffered age difference
      • part 3 rated 18 characteristics on a four point scale
    • 2- ranking participants were asked to place 13 characteristics in rank order based on their desirability in someone they want to marry, other variables included religious, kind, personality
  • Translations- research collaborators employed bilingual speakers to translate the questionnaire from English to their native language and the translate the answers back into English.
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  • Good financial prospect- valued by females more than in males in 97% of the samples
    • western euopean samples valued earning capacity less than south, north american, asian and african samples.
  • Ambition and industriousness- valused by females more than males in 92% of the samples
    • in 78% of the samples, significant difference at .05 level, in 8% of the samples the opposite sex was found - only significant in south african zulu tribe because of physical tasks - 22% both sexes placed a high value on this characteristic
  • Age differences- in all sampled men preffered women who were younger, the mean age difference preferred by males was 2.66 years and the preffered marrigae age was 27.49
    • all samples women preffered older men, age difference of 3.42 and prefered age to marry was 25.39. Nigeria and Zambia male preference was 6.45 and 7.38
  • Good Looks-in all samples men rated looks higher than women, significant .05 92% samples
  • Chastisy-samples varied, in 62% of samples- males preferred chastisy but no significance in  remaning samples, in wester european it was seen as irrelevant.
  • Validity Check- behavioural data shows self reported preferences reflected actual preferences, the actual mean age difference was w:3.04 and m:2.99, in sample it was w:3.42 and m:2.66. for marriage actual was m:28.2 and w:25.3 and sample was m:27.5 and w:25.4
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    • females rated financial capacity higher than men = supporting hypothesis of women wanting resources
    • females valued ambition and industrousness more than men supporitng that women seek resources
    • males view physical attractiveness and youth more than women- supporting that males seek cues related too high reproductive capacity. males sought partners areopund the age of 25 - related to fertility rather than reproductive value, but age preference was years beyond peak fertility suggests non evolutionary factors may be involved.
    • females prefer older males - older men greater resources
    • males valued chastisy more than females - supporting paternity importance probability - conclusion only demonstarted in a small number of samples.
  • in general; 1) evolutionary explanations of sex differences in human mate preferences are inappropriate, 2) the mate preferences are not just explained in femal choosiness since both females and males showed preferences, 3) that cultural differencesmatter as there were cultural differences
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DESIGN; questionnaire

ETHICS; informed consent and confedentiality, benefits outweigh the costs

RELIABILITY; questionnaires only given out once - didnt use test/retest method

VALIDITY; various steps taken to ensure validity-
       -made sure all questionnaire were understood - were translated and read out to no readers
       -validity checks (answers were similar to real life behaviour) = accurate
       -ranking can be meaningless because ranking can be difficult

SAMPLE; wide range of cultural groups
       -37 countries
       -7749 participants
       -26/37 countries = westernised (biased)

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CUNNINGHAM (1995) - similar results in cultural results when rating female physical attractiveness

SINGH (1993) - men prefer women with a low hip to waist ration - big bum = good fat reserve and small waist = not pregnant .. sign of youthfulness and fertility

LITTLE ET AL (2007) symmetry = fertility in UK and Hadza

 WAYNFORTH & DUNBAR (1995) analysed 900 US ads, more men want a pysically attractive mate.

  DUNBAR (1995) straight women want more resources than lesbians, straight men offer more resources than gay men - supports

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  • wide sample
  • alot of supporting evidence- reliable                                          


  • participant bias
  • social desirability
  • for questionnaire thats spoken - worded differently
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