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These two theories explain why natural and sexual selection acts slightly differently on the two sexes so that they display different preferences.For example, different age preferences may be a result of sex differences in mate values assigned to the opposite sex at those ages.A study conducted by David Buss investigated sex differences in mate preferences in 37 cultures with 10,047 participants.In all 37 cultures it was found that males preferred females younger than themselves and females preferred males older than themselves.Male chimpanzees tend to prefer older females than younger and it is suggested that specific cues of female mate value are very different to humans.Buss attributed the male preference for younger females to certain youthful cues.A British psychological study published in Evolution and Human Behavior in 2010 concluded that men and women, in general, continued to follow traditional gender roles when searching for mates.The study found that, as supported by other academic studies, most men preferred younger, physically attractive women, while most women, of any age, preferred successful, established men their age or older.
Buss stated the specific age preference of around 25 years implied that fertility was a stronger ultimate cause of mate preference than reproductive value as data suggested that fertility peaks in females around mid-twenties.
Differences in age preferences for mates can stem from evolutionary mating strategies and age preferences in sexual partners may vary cross-culturally.
There are also social theories for age differences in relationships as well as suggested reasons for 'alternative' age-hypogamous relationships.
The study found very few instances of older women pursuing much younger men and vice versa.
Within sexual selection Darwin identified a further two mechanisms which are important factors in the evolution of sex differences (sexual dimorphism): intrasexual selection (involve competition with those of the same sex over access to mates) and intersexual choice (discriminative choice of mating partners).