Mate selection

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Evolutionary theory foreshadows the existence of a concrete sex disparity in mate choices. For instance, the men focus more on characteristics that indicate high fertility, while women focus on traits that point to financial prospect. The paper examines the basis of sex disparity between both genders.

The paper further portrays males as more concerned with the physical appearance, while their female counterparts concentrate on the resource availability.

In addition, the paper also describes the implication of age on the concept. Males of all age brackets show preference for younger mates. In contrast, young females desire older males although the pattern seems contrary for most of the women past their fertility stage. However, the paper also identifies some exceptions to the rule.

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Teenage boys exhibit some preference for older women. On the grounds of my interpretation of some previous studies, I indicate that gender disparity in mate preference based on physical attractiveness may be more dynamic, relative to preference for resources, prospects and social status.


The concept of mate selection has existed since the beginning of humanity. This concept involves both the male and female genders. However, when it comes to the selection of short- or long-term mate, they differ in the basis for their choices. For example, people believe that most men are relatively sex driven in their selection for mates. In fact, Baumeister (2001) argues, “men desire sex more than women” (p.270). This concept, like other attributes of humanity, is evolving.

Thus, there is no doubt that selection of mate is subject to social factors, such as financial resources, peer influence, and cultural perspective. This paper seeks to explore the basis of gender disparity in regard of mate selection. What elements can account for this difference?

The basis of mate selection

Buss (2003) supposes that people can only understand gender difference in mate selection from an evolutionary psychological perspective (p.23). Humans make mate choices with regard to their offspring.

In most cultures, people talk about someone who will carry the family name after they are gone (applies for men). They choose mates who exhibit traits, which favor the conception, birth, and survival of their offspring to guarantee continuity of their genes.

In this regards, there are certain important traits associated with this innate quest. Naturally, these traits are indicators of sound health, physical strength, and fertility. In addition, other social factors such as financial status, and power, are important in mate selection.

Physical characteristics

Physical traits are the oldest and most obvious benchmark for determining a mate choice. Many societies hold predetermined believes on traits for an ideal male or female. A prospective chooser may consider the stature of the prospective mate. A tall heavily built man is usually an ideal choice for women. While a smoothly curved woman with prominent hips and moderate bust is normally the center of attraction for males.

Men can sire an unlimited number of offspring and may guarantee their reproductive capability by impregnating numerous women. Men, however, seem limited by their ability to attract a fertile mate(s). With this motive, men search for women who are youthful and physically attractive because to them these traits which include smooth complexion, good muscle tone, lustrous hair, full lips, and so forth, are indicative of good health.

Currently, men have started to concentrate on the resource availability in selection of mates because of the increasing need for a mate who will share their financial responsibilities. Thus, modern men are increasingly prioritizing resource availability as factor for mate selection at the expense of physical attractiveness.

Economic factor

However, physical attraction is no longer the major basis for mate selection; instead, economical aspect is increasingly becoming an important factor. Buss, (2003) asserts that women are highly selective due to their biological limitation of the number of offspring they can bear and nurture in their lifespan (p. 45).

Therefore she must ensure that she select a mate who owns or has the potential to own economic resources, and is willing to dedicate the resources to sustain her offspring.

It is no wonder then that many young women usually are attracted to older men who have accumulated financial resources. The other group of men that seem targeted by women is the youthful men who possess straits that are indicative of future success including ambition, stability, and intelligence.

Nevertheless, some exceptions exist, which involves relatively old women desiring younger men including even the teenagers. One can explain this perhaps because they are way past the fertility limit and the point of their offspring security is no long valid. Also, could be that they are attracted by the vigor exhibited by these category of men, who can satisfy them sexually.

Sex disparity in mate selection

Men and women have different ratings for different attributes relevant in mate selection. Exceptionally, people equally rate the possessing of a pleasant temperament between the two genders. However, men all over the world tend to value good looks and absence of previous sexual intercourse.

Inversely, women tend to value positive financial prospects, and ambitious and hard working males counterparts. Buss (1989) found that men are more inclined to prefer good looks while women prefer optimistic financial prospects (p. 75). Nevertheless, both genders equally ranked certain traits including being humorous, reliable, and kind to be more crucial. Indeed, both genders tend to place their preference on persons who exhibit kindness, creativity and liveliness.

In real live sense, it is hard to come by a person who has all the ideal traits. Thus, the prospective mate seekers seem torn between options and they must prioritize their desires. According to Kassin, Fein and Markus (2010) the mate seekers who cannot have it all, prioritize their selection in the pattern determined by evolutionary theory (p. 43).

Age factor in mate selection

Men universally have a tendency to desire younger women because they have a higher probability of being fertile, while women tend to desire older men because their likelihood of being financially resourceful. Men in their twenties equally express interest for women who seem slightly younger or older who were still in the fertile a range.

In contrast, men in thirties tend to look for mates who are five years younger, whereas men in fifties desire women who seem younger by ten or even twenty years (Gustavsson, Johnsson & Uller, 2008, p. 112). Women, on the other hand, regardless of their age are attracted to Men who are relatively older.


Clearly, the concept of mate selection is a complex phenomenon. It is determined by various biological, social and cultural factors. Thus, there is no single theory that can accommodate all the factors. In addition, resource availability is becoming more popular basis for mate selection at the expense of physical attractiveness.

Reference List

Baumeister, R. (1978). The self in social psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.

Buss, D. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preference: Evolutionary hypothesis tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Science, 12. 1-14

Buss, D. (2003). The evolution of desire: Strategies of human mating (rev.ed.). New York: Basic Books.

Gustavsson, L., Johnsson, J., & Uller, T. (2008). Evolutionary Psychology. – 2008. 6(4): 575-585.
Retrieved from

Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H. R. (2010). Social psychology. Belmont: Cengage Learning. Retrieved from,Steven+Fein,Hazel+Rose+Markus&source=bl&ots=4KlNn5aH96&sig=3n2ZM3NnrbwEVJ1bl6Hz11EX92k&hl=en&ei=JDC6Ta7DEdH3sgaV6MBn&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Categories: Psychology


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