These two theories explain why natural and sexual selection acts slightly differently on the two sexes so that they display different preferences.For example, different age preferences may be a result of sex differences in mate values assigned to the opposite sex at those ages.

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A study conducted by David Buss investigated sex differences in mate preferences in 37 cultures with 10,047 participants.

In all 37 cultures it was found that males preferred females younger than themselves and females preferred males older than themselves.

Females demonstrate a complementary pattern, being willing to accept considerably older males (on average 8 years older) and were also willing to accept males slightly younger than themselves (on average 5 years younger).

This is somewhat different to our close evolutionary relatives: chimpanzees.

These age preferences were confirmed in marriage records with males marrying females younger than them and vice versa.

This study used 21,245 participants between 18 and 65 years of age who were not involved in a close relationship.

A study released in 2003 by the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics concluded that the proportion of women in England and Wales marrying younger men rose from 15% to 26% between 19.

Another study also showed a higher divorce rate as the age difference rose for when either the woman was older or the man was older.

did females show a preference for males significantly younger than male preferences for females" and that there was a "consistent cross-cultural preference by women for at least same-age or significantly older men".

A 2003 AARP study reported that 34% of women over 39 years old were dating younger men.

However, human males tend to have more parental investment compared to mammal males (although females still tend to have more parental investment).