For the study, Jörgen Johnsson of Gothenburg University analyzed how men and women presented themselves in personal ads published in Swedish newspapers and online dating sites.
The study was conducted in order to look at how important biology is in determining the way each sex goes about choosing a mate.
”The results show that our biological legacy still plays a huge role. Similar studies in other countries and cultures also show the same thing,” he told the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper.
”A woman faces a bigger investment when choosing a partner; she’s going to go through nine months of pregnancy and will need food and nutrition in order to reproduce, as well as the resources for it. An older man with his finances in order and a high social status is a safe choice.”
Johnsson went on to explain that older men have a different set of considerations, which nevertheless often lead them to the arms of a younger woman.
”A man is out looking to secure his progeny and the safest way is via a woman of younger age who is often highly fertile,” he said.
”It’s biological evolution. There’s no moral aspect to it; rather it’s the method employed by most mammals.”
The study was conducted in coordination with Oxford University in England and involved the review of 4,000 personal ads taken from the Göteborgs-Posten and Aftonbladet newspapers, as well as from the Spraydate and match.com dating websites.
Of the 97 men whom mentioned age as a factor in their ad, only three sought an older partner.
For woman, ads most often mentioned a desire for men with plenty of wealth and status, with the majority seeking older men.
The study also showed, however, that Swedes’ dating tendencies differ from those displayed in most of the rest of the world.
”When it comes to appearance and physical traits, there is a belief that men are more interested in looks than women,” Johnsson explained.
”Our study dispels that myth,” he added, noting that in Sweden, both men and women place equal value on physical appearance, as judged by the wording of the personal ads included in the study.
Johnsson speculates that any number of factors could be responsible for the equality of the sexes when it comes to the importance of looks in Sweden, including the country’s focus on gender equality and the way appearance is stressed in the media.
”Either way, it shows that the cultural part plays a larger roll than previously when it comes to these sorts of questions,” he said.