The present study explored the phenomenon of women choosing younger men—seemingly a violation of evolved mate preferences of males preferring young mates and females preferring resource-laden mates who are usually older. The study explored this issue through two perspectives: evolved preferences and social learning. Study 1 investigated the possibility that couples where the female is older may have been conforming to evolved mate preferences while ignoring the age factor. The results of Study 1 revealed that in particular contexts, there may be some truth to the popular adage, age does not matter. In Study 2, two experiments were designed to investigate a form of social learning, mate choice copying (MCC), particularly the role of models, as a possible explanation for why women choose younger men. In Experiment 1, college-age women participated in an experiment that explored the effects of age of female partner, attractiveness of female partner, and popularity on attractiveness of the male partner and on perceptions about the partnership. Caucasian faces were utilized in this experiment. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 using Asian faces. Study 2 showed that MCC appeared to be facilitated with the Asian models, but not with the Caucasian models. Also, attractiveness of female partner and popularity may have effects that may facilitate positive perceptions of the older female-younger male partnership with Caucasian models. This may, in turn, facilitate mate choice copying.
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Study 1 was funded by the University of the Philippines System Research and Creative Work Grants and Study 2 by the UP Cebu Creative Work and Research Grants.
Conflict of interest
I have no conflict of interest to disclose.
Availability of Data and Material
The data sets and materials used are available upon request from the author.
This study was reviewed and evaluated by the institutional review committee of the University of the Philippines System and the University of the Philippines Cebu review committee before approval.
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An informed consent was obtained from the participants prior to participation in the interview and in the experiments. The informed consent specified that the participants were free to discontinue participation at any point during the conduct of the studies and that the data collected will remain anonymous and confidential.
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Mende, R.V. Women Choosing Younger Men: Exploring Evolved Mate Preferences and Mate Choice Copying. Sexuality & Culture (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09914-w
- Evolved mate preferences
- Mate choice copying, women with younger partners
- Role models in mate selection