Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 9–10, pp 613–628 | Cite as

Aligning Mars and Venus: The Social Construction and Instability of Gender Differences in Romantic Relationships

  • Paul B. PerrinEmail author
  • Martin Heesacker
  • Tom J. Tiegs
  • Lawton K. Swan
  • Alvin W. LawrenceJr.
  • Mary B. Smith
  • Robin J. Carrillo
  • Romy L. Cawood
  • Cristina M. Mejia-Millan
Original Article


An evolutionary approach to gender differences in romantic relationships has pervaded the scientific literature, a trend mirrored in popular culture by Mars-Venus stereotyping. Three studies tested the accuracy of the popular notion that gender differences would emerge for the behaviors women and men want and receive from romantic partners in a sample of 375 students at a southeastern U.S. public university. Across the three studies, only one stable and robust gender difference emerged (desires regarding relationship support), as did several unstable gender differences. However, gender-role identity significantly accounted for nearly half of the variance in this one stable gender difference, challenging the viability of some evolutionary conceptualizations of gender differences and instead providing support for social constructionist and feminist perspectives.


Gender roles Evolutionary psychology Romantic relationships Stereotypes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul B. Perrin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin Heesacker
    • 1
  • Tom J. Tiegs
    • 1
  • Lawton K. Swan
    • 1
  • Alvin W. LawrenceJr.
    • 1
  • Mary B. Smith
    • 1
  • Robin J. Carrillo
    • 1
  • Romy L. Cawood
    • 1
  • Cristina M. Mejia-Millan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.PsychCare ServicesWinter HavenUSA

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