And in a 1993 study that analyzed over 1,000 personal ads, researchers found that women typically sought older men, and men typically sought younger women.
Similarly, in a 1994 study using a nationally representative sample of single Americans younger than 35, the results revealed that women were significantly more willing than men to marry someone older by five years; conversely, men were significantly more willing than women to marry someone who was younger by five years.
Further supporting this interpretation, the authors argue that their study had good “ecological validity.” This means that the experimental conditions of this study were a strong approximation of those in real-life.
Apart from the requirement that the participants had to provide a narrative report and a numerical rating of the date, the dates unfolded as they normally would in regular life.
After all, much of the support for the age differential effect was conducted when the gender wage gap was larger. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Washington, DC, and an expert on relationships, managing anxiety and stress, and building health and resilience. Mehta provides speaking engagements for your organization and psychotherapy for adults.
Or perhaps cultural forces, such as lower rates of marriage, are making the generation gap less relevant. She has successfully worked with individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, and life transitions, with a growing specialization in recovery from trauma and abuse. Mehta is also the author of the forthcoming book Growing up in the 60's and 70's and into adulthood in the 80's I, like many of my contemporaries, would aim for women to date who were either the same age or a little younger.
But overall in this study, there was no support for the age differential effect — age did not influence the ratings of the dates at a statistically significant level. The authors offer an interpretation worth pondering: It may that while age seems paramount in the abstract (all things being equal, men desire younger women, and women desire older men), in practice, when two people actually go on a date, the age difference might not have as much importance as other considerations, such as physical attraction and a compatible personality.
These days, however, the older woman/younger guy combo are everywhere to be seen.
I think attitudes have changed and more women are perhaps freer to really express what they want and who they want it with.
In another study from 2001, researchers asked Dutch men and women between the ages of 20 and 60 about their age preferences for various types of intimate situations, ranging from sexual fantasies to marriage. Malouf of Endicott College wondered if testing the age differential hypothesis using a new source of data might yield more insight into the matter.
They, too, found that men predictably preferred younger partners than did women. To this end, they collected all available ratings of blind dates that were published in two well-known American newspaper columns: “Dinner with Cupid” from Both newspaper columns advertise for singles who are willing to give a blow-by-blow report of a blind date as well as a numerical rating in exchange for a free dinner at a restaurant.
It is important to distinguish between mate preference and mate choice.