Abstracts for BBC Internet Survey Papers

Lippa, R. A. (2007). The preferred traits of mates in a cross-national study of heterosexual and homosexual men and women: An examination of biological and cultural influences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 193-208.

Abstract  BBC Internet survey participants (119,733 men and 98,462 women) chose from a list of 23 traits those they considered first, second, and third most important in a relationship partner. Across all participants, the traits ranked most important were: intelligence, humor, honesty, kindness, overall good looks, face attractiveness, values, communication skills, and dependability. On average, men ranked good looks and facial attractiveness more important than women did (d = 0.55 and 0.36, respectively), whereas women ranked honesty, humor, kindness, and dependability more important than men did (ds = 0.23, 0.22, 0.18, and 0.15). Sexual orientation differences were smaller than sex differences in trait rankings, but some were meaningful; for example, heterosexual more than homosexual participants assigned importance to religion, fondness for children, and parenting abilities. Multidimensional scaling analyses showed that trait preference profiles clustered by participant sex, not by sexual orientation, and by sex more than by nationality. Sex-by-nation ANOVAs of individuals’ trait rankings showed that sex differences in rankings of attractiveness, but not of character traits, were extremely consistent across 53 nations and that nation main effects and sex-by-nation interactions were stronger for character traits than for physical attractiveness. United Nations indices of gender equality correlated, across nations, with men's and women's rankings of character traits but not with their rankings of physical attractiveness. These results suggest that cultural factors had a relatively greater impact on men's and women's rankings of character traits, whereas biological factors had a relatively greater impact on men's and women's rankings of physical attractiveness.

Lippa, R. A. (2009). Sex differences in sex drive, sociosexuality, and height across 53 nations: Testing evolutionary and social structural theories. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 631-651.

Abstract  By analyzing cross-cultural patterns in five parameters—sex differences, male and female trait means, male and female trait standard deviations—researchers can better test evolutionary and social structural models of sex differences. Five models of biological and social structural influence are presented that illustrate this proposal. Using data from 53 nations and from over 200,000 participants surveyed in a recent BBC Internet survey, I examined cross-cultural patterns in these five parameters for two sexual traits—sex drive and sociosexuality—and for height, a physical trait with a biologically based sex difference. Sex drive, sociosexuality, and height all showed consistent sex differences across nations (mean ds = .62, .74, and 1.63). Women were consistently more variable than men in sex drive (mean female to male variance ratio = 1.64). Gender equality and economic development tended to predict, across nations, sex differences in sociosexuality, but not sex differences in sex drive or height. Parameters for sociosexuality tended to vary across nations more than parameters for sex drive and height did. The results for sociosexuality were most consistent with a hybrid model—that both biological and social structural influences contribute to sex differences, whereas the results for sex drive and height were most consistent with a biological model—that evolved biological factors are the primary cause of sex differences. The model testing proposed here encourages evolutionary and social structural theorists to make more precise and nuanced predictions about the patterning of sex differences across cultures.

Lippa, R. A. (in press). Sex differences in personality traits and gender-related occupational preferences across 53 nations: Testing evolutionary and social-environmental theories. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Abstract  Using data from over 200,000 participants from 53 nations, I examined the cross-cultural consistency of sex differences for four traits: extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and male-versus-female-typical occupational preferences. Across nations, men and women differed significantly on all four traits (mean ds = −.15, −.56, −.41, and 1.40, respectively, with negative values indicating women scoring higher). The strongest evidence for sex differences in SDs was for extraversion (women more variable) and for agreeableness (men more variable). United Nations indices of gender equality and economic development were associated with larger sex differences in agreeableness, but not with sex differences in other traits. Gender equality and economic development were negatively associated with mean national levels of neuroticism, suggesting that economic stress was associated with higher neuroticism. Regression analyses explored the power of sex, gender equality, and their interaction to predict men’s and women’s 106 national trait means for each of the four traits. Only sex predicted means for all four traits, and sex predicted trait means much more strongly than did gender equality or the interaction between sex and gender equality. These results suggest that biological factors may contribute to sex differences in personality and that culture plays a negligible to small role in moderating sex differences in personality.

Lippa, R. A., Collaer, M. L., & Peters, M. (in press). Sex differences in mental rotation and line angle judgments are positively associated with gender equality and economic development across 53 nations. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Abstract  Mental rotation and line angle judgment performance were assessed in more than 90,000 women and 111,000 men from 53 nations. In all nations, men’s mean performance exceeded women’s on these two visuospatial tasks. Gender equality (as assessed by United Nations indices) and economic development (as assessed by per capita income and life expectancy) were significantly associated, across nations, with larger sex differences, contrary to the predictions of social role theory. For both men and women, across nations, gender equality and economic development were significantly associated with better performance on the two visuospatial tasks. However, these associations were stronger for the mental rotation task than for the line angle judgment task, and they were stronger for men than for women. Results were discussed in terms of evolutionary, social role, and stereotype threat theories of sex differences.