Switch Currency:

  • Relationship Coaching London
  • Relationship Coaching London
    Generic selectors
    Exact matches only
    Search in title
    Search in content
    Post Type Selectors

Sexual selection psychology

Sexual selection psychology

What is sexual selection psychology?

Sexual selection is based on which a person feels attracted towards someone, like shape or form. Certain traits like facial symmetry, clear skin are considered attractive cross-culturally because of their relation to underlying fertility, health, and fitness overall.

This article is all about sexual selection psychology. You will learn about sexual selection psychology definition, some related theories, and other related factors. So let’s get started.

Sexual selection psychology definition

If you are wondering what is sexual selection psychology definition, here is a proper definition for you:

“Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection in which members of one biological sex choose mates of the other sex to mate with (intersexual selection), and compete with members of the same sex for access to members of the opposite sex (intrasexual selection).”

Darwin’s propositions

By whom sexual selection psychology evaluation was done? Charles Darwin first proposed that all living species are derived from common ancestors. The main procedure he proposed to it was natural selection. According to which organisms that adapt to their environment have a higher chance of survival than those who are less equipped to adapt. But he also noted that there were some other elaborate examples , and apparently, there were also some non-adaptive sexual characters that will not play any role in survival. He said that these traits that do not have any link with survival and might evolve because of sexual selection, as it increases the reproduction success of an individual even at the cost of their survival. According to him:

“He who admits the principle of sexual selection will be led to the remarkable conclusion that the nervous system not only regulates most of the existing functions of the body but has indirectly influenced the progressive development of various bodily structures and certain mental qualities.”

Darwin noticed that sexual selection depended on the struggle of males to have access to females. Based on this, he explained two mechanisms, intersexual selection, and intersexual selection.


Intersexual selection

Intersexual selection refers to the methods used by one sex to choose a partner from the other sex. This usually the strategy used by females as producing an egg requires greater investment; just like that, history proves that women invest more of their time and commitment in raising offspring. That is why females tend to be choosier than males to invest all of their resources. Males compete with each other to get selected by the female for mating. Certain traits that seem to be attractive are more likely to survive; as a male is selected for that characteristic, a son will have that same trait, which will go long. And if the offspring is a daughter, this trait will be passed on to her. This is called the runaway process.

Intrasexual selection psychology

Before jumping towards Intrasexual selection psychology, let’s know what it actually means. Intrasexual selection means competing with other members of the same sex for tangible resources and direct access to potential mates, as well as a whole evolutionary process that shapes characteristics employed in competition.

To explain Intrasexual selection psychology in simple words, it refers to strategies utilized by one sex to be selected by the other. There is a competition among males, and the one who wins gets to mate the female. The traits that make him win are passed down from generation to generation, leading to dimorphism, meaning clear physical differences among females and males. Those who are physically larger and strong will defeat their rivals; on the other hand, females don’t have to be physically large. That is the reason males are larger as compared to females. Other traits that may be helpful for males include aggression and a preference for younger females because they are more fertile.

Sexual selection psychology evaluation

Later on, sexual selection psychology evaluation was done to find out patterns of sexual selection. In 1989 Buss questioned about 10000 adults from 33 different countries about their mate choice preference; what traits they prefer in their ideal mate. And he came to find that women preferred resource-based traits like a good job; on the other hand, males preferred youth and physical attractiveness. The results were the same in all countries surveyed. This study supported the difference in mate preferences linked to anisogamy.

Clark and Hatfield, in the same year, found that when university students, both male, and female, were propositioned by a stranger of the opposite sex to spend the night together, 75% of the males said yes to the request, and none of the female students accepted this request. This supports the evolutionary theory that says women are choosier as compared to men when it is about choosing a mate.

The theory does not consider cultural and social differences that may affect reproductive behavior. There is also evidence that there is a change in mate preferences with cages in surroundings like lack of female dependency on a mate. So there are much more factors than evolutionary preferences that influence mate choice.

What factors drive sexual selection in humans?

There are several factors responsible for driving sexual selection in humans. The research made so far indicates that sexual selection preferences are driven by biological factors, that is, by the appearance of phenotypic traits. These phenotypic traits are unconsciously or unconsciously evaluated by the opposite sex partner for determining his/her fertility or health. This process can be affected by other factors, too, like cultures where arranged marriages are practices, some psychological factors like appreciating cultural traits of a partner, including their social status, or how an ideal partner is defined in various cultures.

Let’s have a look at the selection preferences of males and females based on which they choose their partner.

Female selection preferences

Some of the factors that affect female selection preferences for their potential mates for reproduction include facial shape, height, muscular appearance, and voice pitch. A lot of studies have suggested that partner selection among humans is linked with hormone levels. A study was made to measure female attraction towards varying masculinity levels of males, and in the end, it was established that women have general masculinity preferences for their voices; it was also found out that this preference of masculinity was higher during their fertile stage of the menstrual cycle as compared to the non-fertile stage. This study also suggested that women also have higher preferences for other masculine characteristics during fertile phases of the menstrual cycle, for instance, dominant behavior, size, and facial shape, which are somehow indicators of fertility and health.

But this study did not eliminate those males as potential partners who have feminine traits from selection; however, as feminine characteristics in men show that they have a higher possibility of being in long-term relationships, it may also be a survival strategy.  Further research was done, and it all backs up the concept of using physical or phenotypic traits as a way for assessing the fitness of potential for reproduction and also assessing if this partner has the best genetic qualities or not.

Phenotypic traits are not only factors that affect the selection preferences of females, the environment in which a person lives also plays an important role. We can say that some specific environmental conditions may bring out demands for or disregard certain characteristics in biological terms. One example to consider is the preference for those males whose facial shape indicates a specific hormonal ratio, for instance, testosterone-cortisol levels. Research indicates that, for instance, in those countries where Human Development Index (HDI) levels are varying, females have different sex stress hormones (testosterone-cortisol) ratios, as appeared in male’s faces. Research by the Royal Society has suggested a huge correlation between quantification of societal development and preference for indication of lower levels of testosterone, as appeared in facial features and interaction among preferences for cortisol and testosterone. It was concluded in the end that ecological factors at the societal level have a stronger impact on the valuation of characteristics of sex-stress hormones.

A study made in 2020 has reported that women have a stronger attraction for males; if their previous relationships were ended mutually and they find them less attractive, they were dumped.

Male’s selection preferences

Just like females, males also use phenotypic characteristics of potential mates as well as their body shape, voice quality, and some other factors in choosing a partner. Research has shown that males prefer feminine faces of women and voices in this case of masculine categories. Additionally, males also consider symmetry, skin color, and apparent health as a way by which they choose a partner for reproduction purposes. Males are usually attracted to women having feminine facial qualities when their testosterone levels are at their peak, and this level of attraction towards femininity may fluctuate with fluctuation in levels of testosterone.

Studies have been done on men to show the effects of exogenous testosterone and its effects on feelings of attraction towards feminine qualities. The results throughout different studies had shown that men had decreased preferences for the feminine faces of women in a long-term context when they were given exogenous testosterone, but with placebo, this difference did not occur.

Common preferences in both sexes

Sexual selection preferences are terms by which reproductive and mating processes are understood. A recent article suggests that sexual selection is a process by which sexual displays like dominance, strong attraction, strength, ability to defeat competitors via force or resources, for attraction are favored. Both females and males use face, voice, and other physical traits to assess whether this person is perfect for mating and reproductive purposes or not. In combination with chemical and visual signals, these crucial traits that can enhance the ability to produce offspring, along with survival factors, can be assessed, and then sections are made.

Sexual selection psychology slide share

According to UCLA psychiatrist Andrew Shaner:

“Human mental abilities may have evolved in a similar way, not so much for the survival of the individual, but to attract mates and ensure reproductive success. Our human skills in language, dance, music, and art may have evolved as fitness markers facilitating success in the evolutionary mating game and are very much influenced by it. Extreme talent is sexually attractive because it indicates good genes for survival.”

If you still have questions in your mind, Sexual selection psychology slide shares are PowerPoint presentations that can help you understand the concept further. These slide shares consist of basic points and theories that are necessary to understand sexual selection.

There are plenty of Sexual selection psychology slide shares available on the internet to help you understand the concept. All you need is to open your browser and search for “Best Sexual selection psychology slide shares,” and you are good to go.

Sexual selection psychology essay

Here is a sexual selection psychology essay by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye; I hope so you will find it helpful:

It was Charles Darwin who originally proposed that the so-called secondary sexual characteristics of male animals — such as the elaborate tails of peacocks, bright plumage or expandable throat sacs in many birds, large racks in Moses, deep voices in men — evolved because females preferred to mate with individuals that had those features. Sexual selection can be thought of as two special kinds of natural selection, as described below. Natural selection occurs when some individuals out-reproduce others, and those that have more offspring differ genetically from those that have fewer.

In one kind of sexual selection, members of one sex create a reproductive differential among themselves by competing for opportunities to mate. The winners out-reproduce the others, and natural selection occurs if the characteristics that determine winning are, at least in part, inherited. In the other kind of sexual selection, members of one sex create a reproductive differential in the other sex by preferring some individuals as mates. If the ones they prefer are genetically different from the ones they shun, then natural selection is occurring.

In birds, the first form of sexual selection occurs when males compete for territories, as is obvious when those territories are on leks (traditional mating grounds). Males that manage to acquire the best territories on a lek (the dominant males) are known to get more chances to mate with females. In some species of grouse and other such birds, this form of sexual selection combines with the second form because once males establish their positions on the lek, the females then choose among them.

That second type of sexual selection, in which one sex chooses among potential mates, appears to be the most common type among birds. As evidence that such selection is widespread, consider the reversal of normal sexual differences in the ornamentation of some polyandrous birds. There, the male must choose among females, which, in turn, must be as alluring as possible. Consequently, in polyandrous species, the female is ordinarily more colorful — it is her secondary sexual characteristics that are enhanced. This fooled even Audubon, who confused the sexes when labeling his paintings of phalaropes. Female phalaropes compete for the plain-colored males, and the latter incubate the eggs and tend the young.

There is evidence that female birds of some species (e.g., Marsh Wrens, Red-winged Blackbirds) tend to choose as mates those males holding the most desirable territories. In contrast, there is surprisingly little evidence that females preferentially select males with different degrees of ornamentation. One of the most interesting studies involved Long-tailed Widowbirds living in a grassland on a plateau in Kenya. Males of this polygynous six-inch weaver (a distant relative of the House Sparrow) are black with red and buff on their shoulders and have tails about sixteen inches long. The tails are prominently exhibited as the male flies slowly in aerial display over his territory. This can be seen from more than half a mile away. The females, in contrast, have short tails and are inconspicuous.

Nine matched foursomes of territorial widowbird males were captured and randomly given the following treatments. One of each set had his tail cut about six inches from the base, and the feathers removed were then glued to the corresponding feathers of another male, thus extending that bird’s tail by some ten inches. A small piece of each feather was glued back on the tail of the donor so that the male whose tail was shortened was subjected to the same series of operations, including gluing, as the male whose tail was lengthened. A third male had his tail cut, but the feathers were then glued back so that the tail was not noticeably shortened. The fourth bird was only banded. Thus the last two birds served as experimental controls whose appearance had not been changed but which had been subjected to capture, handling, and (in one) cutting and gluing. To test whether the manipulations had affected the behavior of the males, numbers of display flights and territorial encounters were counted for periods both before and after capture and release. No significant differences in rates of flight or encounter were found.

The mating success of the males was measured by counting the number of nests containing eggs or young in each male’s territory. Before the start of the experiment, the males showed no significant differences in mating success. But after the large differences in tail length were artificially created, great differentials appeared in the number of new active nests in each territory. The males whose tails were lengthened acquired the most new mates (as indicated by new nests), outnumbering those of both of the controls and the males whose tails were shortened. The latter had the smallest number of new active nests. The females, therefore, preferred to mate with the males having the longest tails.

The widowbird study required considerable manipulation of birds in a natural environment that was especially favorable for making observations. Evidence for female choice of mates has also been accumulated without such intervention in the course of a 30-year study of Parasitic Jaegers (known in Great Britain as “Arctic Skuas”) on Fair Isle off the northern tip of Scotland. The jaegers are “polymorphic” — individuals of dark, light, and intermediate color phases occur in the same populations. Detailed studies by population biologist Peter O’Donald of Cambridge University and his colleagues indicate that females prefer to mate with males of the dark and intermediate phases, and as a result, those males breed earlier than light-phase males. Earlier breeders tend to be more successful breeders, so the female’s choices increase the fitness of the dark males. O’Donald concludes that the Fair Isle population remains polymorphic (rather than gradually becoming composed entirely of dark individuals) because light individuals are favored by selection farther north, and “light genes” are continuously brought into the population by southward migrants.

Further work, including some, we hope, on North American species, is required to determine the details of female choice in birds. The effort required will be considerable, and suitable systems may be difficult to find, but the results should cast important light on the evolutionary origin of many physical and behavioral avian characteristics.

We know remarkably little about the origins of sexual selection. Why, for example, do female widowbirds prefer long-tailed males? Possibly females choose such males because the ability to grow and display long tails reflects their overall genetic “quality” as mates — and the females are thus choosing a superior father for their offspring. Or the choice may have no present adaptive basis but merely be the result of an evolutionary sequence that started for another reason. For instance, perhaps the ancestors of Long-tailed Widowbirds once lived together with a population of near relatives whose males had slightly shorter tails. The somewhat longer tails of males of the “pre-Long-tailed” Widowbirds were the easiest way for females to recognize mates of their own species. Such a cue could have led to a preference for long tails that became integrated into the behavioral responses of females. Although we are inclined to think the former scenario is correct, the data in hand do not eliminate the second possibility.


Darwin has presented a clear and incredibly detailed description of sexual selection in The Descent of Man. Although he did not completely covered sexual selection and he had a basic understanding of inheritance still no matter which topic he discussed, he was right about it.

Although plenty of sexual selection research has been made, there are still several topics that are needed to be addressed. So this was all about sexual selection psychology; I have tried my best to share some useful information; I have also shared a sexual selection psychology essay so that you can have a better understanding, hope so you will find this helpful. GET RELATIONSHIP COACHING NOW.

Further reading

Relationship Courses
All Services
Improve my relationship
I think my boyfriend is cheating on me
Family Therapy

Overwhelmed meaning


PTSD quotes

Cheating quotes

Relationship poems

What to do if a guy doesn’t text you for a week

Stages of a rebound relationship

Feeling used

I am too scared to date again

9 texts to never send a man or woman

I still love my ex

Treat your inbox

Receive our newsletter on the latest deals and happenings. You can unsubscribe any time you want. Read more on our newsletter sign up