PY Two :- Buss (1989) Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences

Buss (1989) Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences


     Mate selection refers to choosing a sexual partner. It has a background in evolutionary psychology because it is involved in maximising our chances of reproduction and passing on our genes. Buss was interested in three evolutionary ideas :

Parental Investment

    Trivers :- Proposed that sexual selection is driven, in part, by the different levels of investment males and females make in their offspring. Females invest the most time and energy in reproduction as they carry the baby.

    We would predict that women are likely to be choosier when selecting a mate. They choose a partner who can offer resources as resources enhance the chance of reproductive success.

Reproductive Value

      For men, access to fertile females is the major factor affecting their chances of reproducing.

    Fertility is the short term probability of reproduction.

   Reproductive Value is the long term probability of reproduction.

  Symons :- Believed youthfulness would be an indicator of both reproductive value and fertility. This could be signalled by physical characteristics such as smooth skin, good muscle tone, full lips and healthy hair, or by behaviour such as high energy levels.

  As female fertility is closely related to age, we would predict that men would show a preference for younger, physically attractive women.

Paternal Probability

    Daly et al.  :- Claimed males want to ensure that any time and effort invested is directed towards their own offspring rather than those of another male thus also ensuring that they pass on their genes to future generations.

    Paternal probability refers to the probability that the offspring that a male is investing in is actually his own. One means of ensuring this would be a preference for chastity in a mate.

    Chastity refers to a lack of current sexual activity. Men value this in a partner as they are more confident the baby’s their own.

    Males should show a preference for women who are chaste as this ensures the offspring is their own. Also, males should show greater sexual jealousy than women.



     Evolutionary psychiatrists are interested in how behaviour varies across cultures. If something holds true across a range of cultures, the more likely it is to be the result of evolution.

    Buss aimed to investigate if evolutionary explanations for sex differences in human mate preferences are found in cultures with varying ecologies, locations, ethnicities, religious orientations and political inclinations.

   It was hypothesised that, regardless of culture, women would prefer ambitious, hardworking and financially secure mates. It was also hypothesised that men would prefer young, attractive and chaste mates.




     Buss used 37 samples from 33 different countries, located on six continents and five islands, creating a total number of participants of 10047. The samples varied in size from 55 in Iran to 1670 in USA. Apart from Iran, all samples were greater than 100. The average sample size was 272 participants. There were


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