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. Researchers found that they could predict a person's sex with 92.2 percent accuracy if they knew his or her mate preferences.
The research suggests that these patterns of mate preferences are far more linked to gender than any individual mate preference examined separately would suggest. "The large overall difference between men's and women's mate preferences tells us that the sexes must have experienced dramatically different challenges in the mating domain throughout human evolution," lead study author Daniel Conroy-Beam, graduate researcher at The University of Texas at Austin noted.
"Because women bear the cost of pregnancy and lactation, they often faced the adaptive problem of acquiring resources to produce and support offspring, while men faced adaptive problems of identifying fertile partners and sought cues to fertility and future reproductive value," Conroy-Beam explained. 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, said the study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.