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In all 37 cultures it was found that males preferred females younger than themselves and females preferred males older than themselves.
These age preferences were confirmed in marriage records with males marrying females younger than them and vice versa.
The theory predicts that preferred mate choices have evolved to focus on reproductive potential and reproductive investment of members of the opposite sex.This study used 21,245 participants between 18 and 65 years of age who were not involved in a close relationship.As well as asking participants a number of questions on mate selection criteria, they also had to provide the oldest and youngest partner they would accept.In various cultures, older men and younger women often seek one another for sexual or marital relationships.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.
Although the "cougar" theme, in which older women date much younger men, is often portrayed in the media as a widespread and established facet of modern Western culture, at least one academic study has found the concept to be a "myth".