Buss, David M. 1989. “Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences: Evolutionary Hypotheses Tested in 37 Cultures.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Behavioral and Brain Sciences (Impact Factor: 20.77). 02/1989; 12(01):1 - 14. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X00023992


Contemporary mate preferences can provide important clues to human reproductive history. Little is known about which characteristics people value in potential mates. Five predictions were made about sex differences in human mate preferences based on evolutionary conceptions of parental investment, sexual selection, human reproductive capacity, and sexual asymmetries regarding certainty of paternity versus maternity. The predictions centered on how each sex valued earning capacity, ambition— industriousness, youth, physical attractiveness, and chastity. Predictions were tested in data from 37 samples drawn from 33 countries located on six continents and five islands (total N = 10,047). For 27 countries, demographic data on actual age at marriage provided a validity check on questionnaire data. Females were found to value cues to resource acquisition in potential mates more highly than males. Characteristics signaling reproductive capacity were valued more by males than by females. These sex differences may reflect different evolutionary selection pressures on human males and females; they provide powerful cross-cultural evidence of current sex differences in reproductive strategies. Discussion focuses on proximate mechanisms underlying mate preferences, consequences for human intrasexual competition, and the limitations of this study.

    • "Women's preferences for high-status men are assumed to reflect a desire for a mate who can provide them and their offspring with sufficient resources (Buss, 1989; Kenrick, et al., 1990). A classic study by Townsend and Levy (1990a) showed that women's willingness to enter a relationship with a man is determined more by his socio-economic status than by his level of physical attractiveness. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated sex differences in jealousy after subliminal exposure to rivals wearing high-status or low-status clothes. It was expected that individual differences in preventive jealousy would moderate the relationship between a rival’s characteristics and jealousy. Participants (Men n = 54, age M = 21.61, SD = 3.47; n = 71 women, age M = 20.72, SD = 1.86) completed a parafoveal subliminal priming paradigm as well as questionnaires about jealousy and preventive jealousy. As predicted, women were not affected by their rival’s status, but women high in preventive jealousy reported more jealousy than women low in preventive jealousy. However, whereas men low in preventive jealousy reported equal amounts of jealousy after exposure to a high-status and a low-status rival, surprisingly, and contrary to the expectations, men high in preventive jealousy reported most jealousy after exposure to a low-status rival. To explain these unexpected results, threats to self-esteem were discussed.
    No preview · Article · May 2016 · Psychological Reports
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    • "Ever since its emergence as a discipline, large amounts of evolutionary psychological literature investigated sex differences in human sexuality taking into consideration diverse aspects of mating-related behavior (e.g. Buss, 1989). Mostly, these variations were attributed to differential parental investment in both sexes: While men spend comparatively little effort in sexual reproduction, women inevitably take on the major costs (Trivers, 1972). "
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    ABSTRACT: Creating a convincing self-presentation which exalts one's own capabilities on the surface is often regarded as a crucial soft skill ensuring success in numerous interpersonal domains. Seen from an evolutionary perspective, strategic self-promotion might have evolved as a beneficial psychological mechanism in mating competition. While prior research is almost exclusively focused on different behavioral patterns, the present study examines relations between self-promotion and mating behavior on a trait level. Based on existing findings, we identified three different traits corresponding with determined self-presentation styles: impression management, self-deceptive enhancement, and self-monitoring. Using a sample of 232 heterosexual participants (f = 143; age M = 23.88 years; SD = 3.42 years), we tested to what extent these traits predict sociosexual orientation as well as the total number of intercourse partners in both sexes. Notwithstanding gender, all chosen traits showed a positive prediction towards short-term mating behavior. By taking sex differences into consideration, however, the results indicated that self-deception was a stronger predictor for promiscuous mating behavior in men compared to women, whereas impression management showed minor differences and self-monitoring even revealed an opposite trend. These findings suggest that women may possess more rigorous deception detection mechanisms forcing men to apply subtler self-promotion strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
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    • "The personality of a potential partner is an important factor for both sexes, across different cultures (Buss, 1989). There is increasing evidence to suggest that personality traits, such as the Big Five (Kramer & Ward, 2010; Little & Perrett, 2007) and the Dark Triad (Holtzman, 2011) are discernible in the face, and affect perception of, and mate preference for the face. "
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    ABSTRACT: In an on-line experiment ( N=. 365), we investigated women's preference for Dark Triad (i.e., Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) facial morphs in a resource scarce and wealthy vignette prime study. Overall, women had weak preference for high Dark Triad faces across short and long-term mating contexts. Machiavellian faces were preferred significantly more in the resource wealthy than in the poor environment. Further, women who had higher self-rated well-being in the scarce condition had an increased preference for high Machiavellian male faces. The results imply that women may be sensitive to the costs associated with mating with manipulative men, and that these costs may outweigh any benefits irrespective of the mating context or environmental conditions. However, it may be less costly for women to mate with Machiavellian men in wealthy environments. There also may be important individual differences in how the scarcity priming affects women, which may, in turn, have consequences for mate choice.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
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