Are mate preferences biologically determined?

Societal factors are at least as important and their influence can be directly demonstrated.

Detail from The Reluctant Bride (1866) by Auguste Toulmouche. Courtesy Wikimedia

In a recent study we found that stereotypical gender differences in mate preferences do indeed exist, but chiefly in countries with a low level of gender equality. In gender-egalitarian countries, they tend to melt away as shown in the Figure below. To account for these and other related findings we develped a socio-culural theory of mate preferences. A short narrative summary of the main findings can be found here

Our research on ideal partner preferences has several objectives, which include research on: (a) the influence of gender equality on sex differentiation in mate preferences; (b) the effect of ideal-partner concepts on relationship satisfaction and duration; and (c) on a theoretical framework capable of accounting for variability in partner preferences across cultures, individuals, and historical periods.



Zentner, M. & Eagly, A. (2015). A sociocultural framework for understanding partner preferences of women and men: Integration of concepts and evidence. European Review of Social Psychology, 26, 328-373.

Zentner, M. & Mitura, K. (2012). Stepping out of the caveman's shadow: Nations' Gender Gap predicts degree of sex differentiation in mate preferences. Psychological Science, 23, 1176-1185.

Zentner, M. (2005). Ideal mate personality concepts and compatibility in close relationships: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 242-256.