Human Nature

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 342–358 | Cite as

I Want What She’s Having

Evidence of Human Mate Copying
  • Ryan C. Anderson
  • Michele K. Surbey


A variety of non-human females do not select male partners independently. Instead they favor males having previous associations with other females, a phenomenon known as mate copying. This paper investigates whether humans also exhibit mate copying and whether consistent positive information about a man’s mate value, and a woman’s age and self-perceived mate value (SPMV), influence her tendency to copy the mate choices of others. Female university students (N = 123) rated the desirability of photographed men pictured alone or with one, two, or five women represented by silhouettes. In accordance with the visual arrays, men were described as currently in a romantic relationship; having previously been in one, two, or five relationships; or not having had a romantic relationship in the past 4 years. Women generally rated men pictured with one or two previous partners as more desirable than those with none. Men depicted with five previous partners, however, were found to be less desirable. Younger, presumably less experienced women had a greater tendency to mate copy compared with older women, but high SPMV did not predict greater levels of mate copying. The findings reaffirmed and expanded those suggesting that women do not make mate choices independently.


Mate copying Women Mate selection Mate value Experience 



We thank each participant, without whom this work would not have been possible. This study was undertaken by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements of a B. Psych Honours degree. We thank the reviewers for their thoughtful suggestions on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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