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 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.
The study found very few instances of older women pursuing much younger men and vice versa.
Within sexual selection Darwin identified a further two mechanisms which are important factors in the evolution of sex differences (sexual dimorphism): intrasexual selection (involve competition with those of the same sex over access to mates) and intersexual choice (discriminative choice of mating partners).
Age disparity in sexual relationships is the difference in ages of individuals in sexual relationships.
Concepts of these relationships, including what defines an age disparity, have developed over time and vary among societies.
For example, different age preferences may be a result of sex differences in mate values assigned to the opposite sex at those ages.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.In various cultures, older men and younger women often seek one another for sexual or marital relationships.In females, relative youth and physical attractiveness (which males valued more compared to females) demonstrated cues for fertility and high reproductive capacity.Buss stated the specific age preference of around 25 years implied that fertility was a stronger ultimate cause of mate preference than reproductive value as data suggested that fertility peaks in females around mid-twenties.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.Male chimpanzees tend to prefer older females than younger and it is suggested that specific cues of female mate value are very different to humans.Buss attributed the young age preference for females to the cues that youth has.These differences may be sexual, financial or social in nature. Socially, a society with a difference in wealth distribution between older and younger people may affect the dynamics of the relationship.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".