S Stewart-Williams, AG Thomas. (2013). The Ape That Thought It Was a Peacock: Does Evolutionary Psychology Exaggerate Human Sex Differences? https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2013.804899
This article looks at the evolution of sex differences in sexuality in human beings and asks whether evolutionary psychology sometimes exaggerates these differences. According to a common understanding of sexual selection theory, females in most species invest more than males in their offspring, and as a result, males compete for as many mates as possible, whereas females choose from among the competing males. The males-compete/females-choose (MCFC) model applies to many species but is misleading when applied to human beings. This is because males in our species commonly contribute to the rearing of the young, which reduces the sex difference in parental investment. Consequently, sex differences in our species are relatively modest. Rather than males competing and females choosing, humans have a system of mutual courtship: Both sexes are choosy about long-term mates, and both sexes compete for desirable mates. We call this the mutual mate choice (MMC) model. Although much of the evolutionary psychology literature is consistent with the MMC model, the traditional MCFC model exerts a strong influence on the field, distorting the emerging picture of the evolved sexual psychology of Homo sapiens. Specifically, it has led to the exaggeration of the magnitude of human sex differences, an overemphasis on men's short-term mating inclinations, and a relative neglect of male mate choice and female mate competition. We advocate a stronger focus on the MMC model.
Paul W Eastwick, Laura B Luchies, Eli J Finkel, Lucy L Hunt. (2014). The predictive validity of ideal partner preferences: a review and meta-analysis. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032432
A central element of interdependence theory is that people have standards against which they compare their current outcomes, and one ubiquitous standard in the mating domain is the preference for particular attributes in a partner (ideal partner preferences). This article reviews research on the predictive validity of ideal partner preferences and presents a new integrative model that highlights when and why ideals succeed or fail to predict relational outcomes. Section 1 examines predictive validity by reviewing research on sex differences in the preference for physical attractiveness and earning prospects. Men and women reliably differ in the extent to which these qualities affect their romantic evaluations of hypothetical targets. Yet a new meta-analysis spanning the attraction and relationships literatures revealed that physical attractiveness predicted romantic evaluations with a moderate-to-strong effect size for both sexes, and earning prospects predicted romantic evaluations with a small effect size for both sexes. Sex differences in the correlations were small and uniformly nonsignificant.
EJ Finkel, PW Eastwick. (2009). Arbitrary social norms influence sex differences in romantic selectivity. https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fj.1467-9280.2009.02439.x
Men tend to be less selective than women when evaluating and pursuing potential romantic partners. The present experiment employed speed-dating procedures to test a novel explanation for this sex difference: The mere act of physically approaching a potential romantic partner (vs. being approached), a behavior that is more characteristic of men than of women, increases one's attraction to that partner. This hypothesis was supported in a sample of speed daters (N = 350) who attended a heterosexual event where either men (eight events) or women (seven events) rotated from one partner to the next while members of the other sex remained seated. Rotators were significantly less selective than were sitters, which meant that the tendency for men to be less selective than women at events where men rotated disappeared at events where women rotated. These effects were mediated by increased self-confidence among rotators relative to sitters.