Mind the (Gender) Gap

A perennial controversy in the psychology of gender concerns the origins of gender differences in mate preferences. Our research contributed to this question empirically and conceptually.

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. A short narrative summary of the main findings was provided by the American Psychological Association.

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.