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Hum Nat. 2012 Dec;23(4):447-66. doi: 10.1007/s12110-012-9152-x.

Sex and age differences in mate-selection preferences.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wuppertal, 42119 Wuppertal, Germany.


For nearly 70 years, studies have shown large sex differences in human mate selection preferences. However, most of the studies were restricted to a limited set of mate selection criteria and to college students, and neglecting relationship status. In this study, 21,245 heterosexual participants between 18 and 65 years of age (mean age 41) who at the time were not involved in a close relationship rated the importance of 82 mate selection criteria adapted from previous studies, reported age ranges for the oldest and youngest partner that they would find acceptable, and responded to 10 yes/no questions about a potential marriage partner. For nearly all mate selection criteria, women were found to be the more demanding sex, although men placed consistently more value on the physical attractiveness of a potential partner than women. Also, the effects of the participants' age and level of education were nearly negligible. These results demonstrate the robustness of sex differences in mate selection criteria across a substantial age range.

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