Sexual Selection and Mate Choice

Evolutionary theorists view sex differences as the outcome of sexual selection strategies (Buss, 1994; Whissell, 1996). According to these theorists, the ways in which women choose their mates, the ways in which men succeed in winning the opportunity to mate, and the different strategies that men and women have for ensuring the survival of their offspring and genes are responsible for the sex differences evident in both humans and other animals. This assumption makes the study of mate choice important to the study of sex differences. In his book The Evolution of Desire, Buss (1994) outlined the different mate choice preferences of men and women. Buss and colleagues (Buss, Shackleford, Kirkpatrick, & Larsen, 2001) assessed and compared mate preferences in different regions of the United States over a span of several years (1939-1996). Several consistent sex differences were identified, with men, for example, valuing physical attractiveness more than women and women valuing a pleasing disposition and social status more than men. Other preferences (e.g., men's preference for chastity) varied across time or location.

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