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Age-disparity relationships have been documented for most of recorded history and have been regarded with a wide range of attitudes dependant on sociocultural norms and legal systems. Relationships with age disparity of all kinds have been observed with both men and women as the older or younger partner.
Dunn concluded that "Not once across all ages and countries ...
A British psychological study published in Evolution and Human Behavior in 2010 concluded that men and women, in general, continued to follow traditional gender roles when searching for mates.
The study found that, as supported by other academic studies, most men preferred younger, physically attractive women, while most women, of any age, preferred successful, established men their age or older.
The theory predicts that preferred mate choices have evolved to focus on reproductive potential and reproductive investment of members of the opposite sex.
This theory predicts both intrasexual selection and intersexual choice due to differences in parental investment; typically there is competition among members of the lower investing sex (generally males) over the parental investment of the higher investing sex (generally females) who will be more selective in their mate choice.
In females, relative youth and physical attractiveness (which males valued more compared to females) demonstrated cues for fertility and high reproductive capacity.