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Sex Differences in human mate preferences

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1 Sex Differences in human mate preferences
Buss (1989) Sex Differences in human mate preferences

2 Context Darwin- suggested mate selection was a matter of evolution (reproduction/ survival of one’s genes). Evolutionary psychologists believe mate selection can be affected by instincts maximising our chances of reproducing. Buss was interested in 3 of these instincts: Parental investment- Trivers (1972) women should favour ambitious, hardworking and rich men. Women invest more into child rearing (pregnancy/ typically the primary caregiver) than men and are thus fussier in choosing a partner. Reproductive value- Access to fertile females is the main factor affecting male reproduction. Men will favour young women as female fertility peaks in late teens/ early twenties. Facial appearance gives cues as to age. Therefore, men will favour facial attractiveness. Paternal probability- want to be certain they pass on their genes. Men value chastity more.

3 Aim Do parental investment, reproductive value, and paternal probability hold true across cultures- if so, they are likely to be a result of evolution. ? ?

4 Procedure- Sample 37 samples from 33 countries across 6 continents…
In cases where countries had more than one separate population (Israel, Canada, S.Africa) a sample was taken from each population. 10,047 participants 4601 male, 5446 female Avg. age: 23.05 Sampling method: Opportunity Student samples, people applying for marriage licenses (Estonia), secondary-age schoolchildren (New Zealand) Self-selecting/ volunteer Responders to a newspaper advert (Germany).

5 Procedure- Measure/ DV
2 questionnaires in native language Questionnaire on factors affecting mate choice Filler questions disguise the aim of the experiment. Target variables of age, attractiveness, good financial prospects, chastity, ambition, industriousness, and no previous sexual experience. Rating scale: Questionnaire ranking factors affecting mate choice Rank 13 factors by most important when choosing a partner Included good earning capacity and physical attractiveness. 1 2 3 Irrelevant Indispensable

6 Findings Good financial prospects Ambition and industriousness
36/37 cultures women placed more importance on good financial prospects than men. Ambition and industriousness 34/37 women placed more emphasis on ambition and industriousness than men In Spanish, Columbian, and Zulu S.African samples this was reversed Attractiveness In 37/37 cultures men rated attractiveness as more important than women.

7 Findings Cont. Preferred age of partner Chastity
Men preferred a partner younger than themselves, and younger than the average woman’s ideal age of partner. Women preferred a man older than themselves. Chastity Most men preferred chaste women. In Western European countries this was only emphasised in Ireland. Greatest cultural variation.

8 Conclusions Largely supports evolutionary theory
Parental investment, reproductive value, and paternal probability are important in mate choice across most cultures.

9 Evaluation- Strengths
Large sample size- representative. Increased generalisability of results. Validity- two separate measures used. Questionnaires are valid measures of mate preferences. Studies using other measures, such as marriage records, have been criticised for measuring mate selection rather than preference. Cultural differences such as arranged marriage.

10 Evaluation- Weaknesses
Sampling procedures unrepresentative Majority of participants from industrialised countries Majority of student samples Measure reduces representativeness Can only be used for literate population. Cultural differences: in some countries education for women is less valued. Demand characteristics Participant may guess the aim of the experiment particularly from the ranking task. Socially sensitive Evolution- deterministic (lack of free will). Feminism- justifies discrimination (men value young, attractive women)

11 Past Exam Questions Section A
Describe the findings and conclusions of Buss’s (1989) research ‘Sex differences in human mate preferences’. [12] 2010 Outline the procedures of Buss’s (1989) research ‘Sex differences in human mate preferences’. [12] 2009 Section B Evaluate the methodology of Buss’s (1989) research ‘Sex differences in human mate preferences’. [12] 2011 Critically assess Buss’s (1989) research ‘Sex differences in human mate preferences’. [12] 2009

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