Original article/commentary:

When the difference is in the details: A critique of Zentner and Mitura (2012) “Stepping out of the caveman’s shadow: Nations’ gender gap predicts degree of sex differentiation in mate preferences”

Evolutionary Psychology 10(4): 720-726 David P. Schmitt, Bradley University, dps@bradley.edu


In a recent 10-nation study, Zentner and Mitura (2012) reported observing smaller sex differences in mate preferences within nations that have higher gender parity. As noted in previous research, and in a re-analysis of Zentner and Mitura’s own data, sex differences in some mate preferences (e.g., long-term mate preferences for physical attractiveness) are either unrelated to or actually get larger with higher national gender parity. It is critically important to distinguish among mate preference domains when looking for patterns of sexual differentiation across nations. Indeed, for many psychological domains (e.g., attachment styles, Big Five traits, Dark Triad traits, self-esteem, personal values, depression, emotional expression, crying behavior, intimate partner violence, tested mental abilities, health indicators; see Schmitt, 2012), sex differences are demonstrably larger in nations with higher sociopolitical gender parity. By not distinguishing among mate preferences, Zentner and Mitura committed a form of the ecological fallacy—making false conclusions about individual mate preferences when looking only at associations among groups of mate preferences.


Sex Differences, Mate Preferences, Physical Attractiveness, Ecological Fallacy

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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