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Stepping out of the Caveman's Shadow: Nations' gender gap predicts degree of sex differentiation in mate preferences

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JournalPsychological Science
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2011
DatePublished (current) - 15 Oct 2012
Issue number10
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)1176-1185
Early online date29/08/11
Original languageEnglish


An influential explanation for gender differences in mating strategies is that sex-specific reproductive constraints faced by our ancestors have shaped these differences. Other theorists have emphasized the role of societal factors, hypothesizing for example that gender differences in mate preferences should wane in gender equal societies. Yet findings have been ambiguous. Using recent data and a novel measure of gender equality we revisited the role of gender parity in gender differentiation for mate preferences. In the first study, 3,177 participants from 10 nations with a gradually decreasing Global Gender Gap Index (GGI) provided online ratings of the desirability of mate preferences with supposedly evolutionary origins. In the second study, we related GGI scores to gender differences in mate preferences previously reported for 8,953 participants from 31 nations (Buss, 1989). Both studies show that gender differences in mate preferences with presumed evolutionary roots decline proportionally to increases in nations’ gender parity.

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