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Being More Educated and Earning More Increases Romantic Interest: Data from 1.8 M Online Daters from 24 Nations

Peter K. Jonason, Andrew Thomas Orcid Logo

Human Nature

Swansea University Author: Andrew Thomas Orcid Logo

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Abstract

How humans choose their mates is a central feature of adult life and an area of considerable disagreement among relationship researchers. However, few studies have examined mate choice (instead of mate preferences) around the world, and fewer still have considered data from online dating services. U...

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Published in: Human Nature
ISSN: 1045-6767 1936-4776
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa59771
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Abstract: How humans choose their mates is a central feature of adult life and an area of considerable disagreement among relationship researchers. However, few studies have examined mate choice (instead of mate preferences) around the world, and fewer still have considered data from online dating services. Using data from more than 1.8 million online daters from 24 countries, we examined the role of sex and resource-acquisition ability (as indicated by level of education and income) in mate choice using multilevel modeling. We then attempted to understand country-level variance by examining factors such as gender equality and the operational sex ratio. In every nation, a person’s resource-acquisition ability was positively associated with the amount of attention they received from other site members. There was a marked sex difference in this effect; resource-acquisition ability improved the attention received by men almost 2.5 times that of women. This sex difference was in every country, admittedly with some variance between nations. Several country-level traits moderated the effects of resource-acquisition ability, and in the case of unemployment this moderating role differed by sex. Overall, country-level effects were more consistent with evolutionary explanations than sociocultural ones. The results suggest a robust effect of resource-acquisition ability on real-life mate choice that transcends international boundaries and is reliably stronger for men than women. Cross-cultural variance in the role of resource-acquisition ability appears sensitive to local competition and gender equality at the country level.
Keywords: Mate choice; Sex differences; Education; Income; Cross-cultural analysis; Online dating
College: College of Human and Health Sciences
Funders: The first author was partially funded by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (PPN/ULM/2019/1/00019/U/00001) and a grant from the National Science Center of Poland (2019/35/B/HS6/00682).