Age and gender differences in mate selection criteria for various involvement levels

Bram P. Buunk, Pieternel Dijkstra, Detlef Fetchenhauer, Douglas Kenrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

118 Scopus citations


The present study investigated mate preferences for five different levels of relationship involvement-marriage, serious relationship, falling in love, casual sex, and sexual fantasies - among individuals of 20, 30,40, 50, and 60 years of age. Consistent with an evolutionary perspective, men preferred mates who were higher in physical attractiveness than themselves, whereas women preferred mates who were higher in income, education, self-confidence, intelligence, dominance, and social position than themselves. The lower the level of relationship involvement, the lower were the preferred levels of education, physical attractiveness, and, particularly for males, preferred intelligence in comparison to oneself. For sexual fantasies, men and women preferred mates who were higher in physical attractiveness than those they preferred for real partners. There were few age differences in mate preferences, although older individuals set higher standards for a potential mate's education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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