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Gender Equality May Influences Peoples' Choice of Partners

Update Date: Sep 06, 2012 10:18 AM EDT
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While it is known that the strategies of picking up a sexual partner are entirely different in men and women, it is not very clear as to why these differences exist.

Although it has been presumed that men and women's brains have evolved to make certain choices, a new study suggests that evolution is not the only determinant when it comes to finding a suitable partner.

In the evolutionary terms, a woman looks for ascpects that would help her raise a child. Similarly, men need to have access to fertile females.

According to  researchers, while women look for a partner who can invest in their children (wealthy men), men look for partners who look fertile (young women). Researchers argue that this is how the evolutionary adaptations have programmed the preferences in our brains.

However, in the modern world, 'success' is not associated with offspring anymore.

Thus, researchers Marcel Zentner and Klaudia Mitura of the University of York in the UK hypothesized that the influence of evolutionary biases on mate choice would decline proportionally with nations' gender parity, or the equality between men and women, Medical Xpress reported.

"There was accumulating evidence that gender differences in mental abilities, such as math performance, vanish in gender-equal societies," said Zentner.  The researchers also wanted to study the same trend applied for selection of sexual partners as well.

For the study, the researchers asked 3,177 respondents to complete an online mate preference survey from 10 countries ranking from a low (Finland) to a high (Turkey) gender gap.

The participants were also quizzed about the factors they considered important while choosing a partner, any thing from financial prospects to being a good cook.

According to Zenter, it was found that the gender differences in mate preferences predicted by evolutionary psychology models "is highest in gender-unequal societies, and smallest in the most gender-equal societies."

The findings were further confirmed when a second study based on mate preferences from 31 nations yielded similar results and researchers again concluded that there were fewer differences between men and women's preferences when the nation were more gender-equal nation.

"These findings challenge the idea proposed by some evolutionary psychologists that gender differences in mate-preferences are determined by evolved adaptations that became biologically embedded in the male and female brain," says Zentner. However, he also notes that evolutionary roots shouldn't be ruled out.

"Indeed, the capacity to change behaviors and attitudes relatively quickly in response to societal changes may itself be driven by an evolutionary program that rewards flexibility over rigidity," he said.

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