A comparison of heterosexual and homosexual mating preferences in personal advertisements

Jamie F. Lawson, Christine James, Anna-Ulla C. Jannson, Nicola F. Koyama, Russell A. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Human heterosexual mating preferences have been shown to conform to predictions drawn from evolutionary theory, with men and women adopting broadly distinct strategies. Attempts to reconcile sexual selection theory with homosexual behavior have been less consistent, however, and have largely focussed on addressing two alternative perspectives: (i) that gay men and lesbians display phenotypic traits in common with opposite sex heterosexual individuals or (ii) that homosexual individuals display sex-typical, or exaggerated sex-typical phenotypes. Testing these hypotheses is complicated by sampling issues involved in the study of human sexual orientation, since obtaining standardized and comparable samples of heterosexual and non-heterosexual mating preferences is a prerequisite to analysis. Here we present a comparison of homosexual and heterosexual mating strategies in men and women using a sample of 1733 personal (‘lonely hearts’) adverts gathered from a single source. We used principal components analysis in order to expose underlying structure of the advertisements, and identify three components involving relative emphasis placed on resources, physical attractiveness and personality when offering or seeking mate characteristics. While homosexual individuals are shown to resemble their own-sex heterosexual counterparts in terms of emphasis placed on partner physical attractiveness relative to partner personality, no clear pattern emerges in other aspects of advertisement strategy. Nevertheless, there we find no evidence in support of the hypothesis that homosexual men and women are intrinsically opposite-sex typical in terms of mate preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-414
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number5
Early online date21 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


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