Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

What women want: the ‘ex-factor’

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Women instinctively find men who have had a few partners attractive, but get turned off if he has had five or more relationships. They definitely aren’t interested if he has had no previous partners.

A James Cook University researcher has been studying whether women exhibit ‘mate copying’, or choosing a man who has been desirable to women in the past. Ryan Anderson holds a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Psychology degree (Honours) from JCU and is currently a PhD candidate in psychology.

Mr Anderson recently conducted the study, I Want What She’s Having - Evidence of Human Mate Copying, which was published in the journal Human Nature. The key findings were that women find a man who has had a small number of partners most desirable, a man who had a large number of partners undesirable and least desirable a man who has had none.

Mr Anderson said various non-human female animals did not select male partners independently. Instead they favoured males who had previous associations with other females, a phenomenon known as mate copying.

“My paper investigates whether humans also exhibit mate copying and whether consistent positive information about a man’s mate value, and a woman’s age and self-perceived mate value, or SPMV, influence her tendency to copy the mate choices of others,” he said.

“Consistent positive information refers to a man...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.