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Non-Independent Mate Choice in Humans: An Investigation of Online Mate Choice Copying and Sex Differences


Mate copying (MC) refers to the increased probability of preferring an individual as a mate, as a result of them having been chosen by same-sex peers previously. How changes in the world, such as the increased use of social networking sites, affect MC has not received much attention. Participants were shown photographs of opposite-sex target individuals, and told that the profiles had a high, moderate, or low number of opposite-sex Facebook friends. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated that opposite-sex profiles were considered the most desirable when no information was given about thegender distribution of their Facebook friends. Both men and women found opposite-sex profiles to be least desirable when they had a high number of opposite-sex friends. The findings contribute to the literature by providing further information about the mate selection processes for both sexes, and how social networking sites have changed the way interpersonal relationships are formed.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. A minimal funding allocation was received from the Monash University GDP-A program.

Author information




All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed jointly. The first draft of the manuscript was written jointly, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ryan C. Anderson.

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This study received ethical approval from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number 22554)

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All participants in this study willingly consented to participate in this research (see above)

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Both authors of this manuscript hereby consent for it to be published

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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•Mate copying is an emerging phenomenon in human attraction which has received very little attention in online contexts.

•By varying the number of opposite-sex online friends someone has, we found that opposite-sex profiles were considered the least desirable when they had a lot of opposite-sex friends.

•Both men and women found opposite-sex profiles to be most desirable when no information about the gender distribution of their online friends was given.

•These results suggest that the phenomenon of mate copying may proceed quite differently in an online environment than in real life.

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Tekin, C., Anderson, R.C. Non-Independent Mate Choice in Humans: An Investigation of Online Mate Choice Copying and Sex Differences. Evolutionary Psychological Science 7, 338–345 (2021).

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  • Mate copying
  • Mate selection
  • Opposite-sex friends
  • Attraction
  • Social networking