Are our mate choices biologically determined?

It's unlikely as our research on this topic shows.

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.