The influence of different sex ratios and resource-gaining capability on male’s mating selection

WANG Yan1 HOU Bowen1 LI Xinyao2 LI Xiaoxu1 JIAO Lu1

(1.Department of Psychology, Fudan University, Shanghai, China 200433)
(2.Department of Psychology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China 510275)

【Abstract】With two experiments the present study tried to explore the influential factors of male’s mating standards under the priming of different sex ratios. To understand the changing pattern of mating strategies, the life history theory was integrated, which focuses on interpreting organisms’ trade-off in the allocation of limited resources. Research has shown that individual’s life history strategies could be different under different environmental priming. Literature indicated that individual’s mating standard could also be influenced either by clues related to mating preferences such as resources and good looking, or by clues not related to mating preferences like death rate, economic condition of the society. This study generally put the emphasis on influences of the priming of different sex ratios, ability to gain resources and childhood economic conditions on male’s mating preference. It was hypothesized that when primed by different sex ratios, male participants with different childhood economic conditions or ability to gain resources would show different changing pattern of mating standards. In experiment 1 participants were 230 unmarried males, with an average age of 20.02 years old (SD = 1.94). Participants were primed by reading a news article about the condition of high sex ratio (more men than women), or about the condition of low sex ratio (less men than women), or about a new kind of robot (control group). Then, the mating preferences were measured by self-report scales. Furthermore, participants were asked to rate the level of childhood economic condition and the self-appraisal of potential resource-gaining capability. The results revealed that males showed significantly lower mating standards on “good resources” when primed by high sex ratio clues (more men than women), compared with low sex ratio clues (less men than women). The interaction effect on mating standard of good resources between sex ratio and the capability of resource-gaining was significant. With higher level of resource-gaining capability, male participants showed lower mating standard for good resources when primed by high sex ratio than low sex ratio. On the other hand, with lower level of resource-gaining capability, male participants showed a quite similar mating preference for good resources under different priming. No main or interaction effects were found on the influence of sex ratio clues on the mating standards for good appearance and good parent. Finally individual’s childhood economic condition showed no significant effect on male’s mating preferences under different priming. In experiment 2 participants were 82 male undergraduates with a mean age of 19.37 years old (SD = 3.325). All the subjects were divided into two groups randomly. After filling with the demographic data individuals in both of the two groups would read information of 8 pictures with different priming, one was 6 male pictures and 2 female pictures, and the other was 6 female pictures and 2 male pictures. After then they filled a form of 12 mating selection items. The results in experiment 2 were the same as that in Experiment 1. Both of the experiments indicated that the sex ratio as an important environmental clue might influence male’s mating standard for good resources, but not the good appearance or good spouse (parents). The capability of resource-gaining, but not the harshness of childhood, played a moderating role between sex ratio and mating standards of good resource.

【Keywords】 mating standards; sex ratio; resource gaining capacity; life history strategy; environmental clue;

【Funds】 Liberal Arts Research Fund of School of Social Development and Public Policy, Fudan University

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This Article


CN: 11-1911/B

Vol 49, No. 09, Pages 1195-1205

September 2017


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Experiment 1: Dynamic changes of male’s mating selection under the priming of text materials of different sex ratios
  • 3 Experiment 2: Dynamic changes of male’s mating selection under the priming of picture materials of different sex ratios
  • 4 Discussion
  • 5 Limitations of this study and future prospects
  • References