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An evolutionary interpretation of the effect of gender and sexual orientation on human mate selection preferences, as indicated by an analysis of personal advertisements

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Sexual selection and parental investment theory have been used to study mate selection for many years and for much of that time has been applied to humans, with the prediction that humans will follow the general mammalian pattern. One aspect of human mate selection that has received much less attention is that of same sex mate selection. The present study used an analysis of 800 personal advertisements from print and online media to determine the mate selection criteria of four mating groups — males seeking females (MF), females seeking males (FM), males seeking males (MM) and females seeking females (FF). Consistent with results of earlier studies, heterosexual males (MF) in our study preferred significantly younger partners than heterosexual females (FM), offered physical attractiveness significantly less often than FM, sought resources significantly less often than FM and indicated a willingness to make a commitment significantly more often than FM. Homosexual females (FF) differed from heterosexual females by the same four criteria and in the same direction as heterosexual males, in clear contrast to hypotheses suggesting that homosexuals only differ from heterosexuals of the same gender in choice of sexual object. Homosexual males (MM) differed from heterosexual males in only two criteria, both of which exhibited an exaggerated male pattern, possibly because MM are unaffected by the sexual strategies of females; MM sought attractiveness (even) more than MF and offered resources less than MF. Homosexual men, thus, exhibited no evidence of selection on the mate preference characteristics predicted by sexual selection theory. In contrast, the proximate mate selection preferences of female homosexuals were consistent with the assumption that in their case procreation is irrelevant to mate selection.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT 06810, USA;, Email:


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