Courtship, Mate Choice, and Human Sexuality


Research from the Roney lab

Primary theoretical questions addressed:

  • How have selection pressures of ancestral mate choice shaped the design of human mate evaluation mechanisms? What preferences are produced by these mechanisms?

  • How have ancestrally-recurrent patterns of mate selection shaped the design of mechanisms that regulate human courtship tactics?

  • Is human mating psychology regulated by neuroendocrine mechanisms homologous to those observed in various non-human species? What functional logic underpins these mechanisms?

*For a critical perspective on extant theory and evidence regarding these issues, see: Roney, J. R. (2009). The role of sex hormones in the initiation of human mating relationships. In Ellison, P. T. & Gray, P. B., Endocrinology of Social Relationships. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


Human mate preferences

Roney, J. R., Hanson, K. N., Durante, K. M., & Maestripieri, D. (2006) Reading men’s faces: women’s mate attractiveness judgments track men’s testosterone and interest in infants. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 273, 2169-2175.

Lukaszewski, A. W. & Roney, J. R. (in press). Kind toward whom? Mate preferences for personality traits are target specific. Evolution and Human Behavior.

Menstrual cycle effects on women’s mate preferences (and their mediation by sex hormones)

Roney, J. R. & Simmons, Z, L. (2008). Women’s estradiol predicts preferences for facial cues of men’s testosterone. Hormones and Behavior, 52, 326 – 333.

Lukaszewski, A. W. & Roney, J. R. (2009). Estimated hormones predict women's preferences for dominant personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 47 (3), 191-196.

Neuroendocrine mechanisms regulating men’s courtship tactics

Roney, J. R., Lukaszewski, A. W., & Simmons, Z. L. (2007). Rapid endocrine responses of young men to social interactions with young women. Hormones and Behavior, 52, 326-333.

Roney, J. R., Simmons, Z. L. & Lukaszewski, A. W. (in press). Androgen receptor gene sequence and basal cortisol concentrations predict men's hormonal responses to potential mates. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

Testosterone and functional energy allocation in men

Simmons, Z. L. & Roney, J. R. (2009). Androgens and energy allocation: Quasi-experimental evidence for effects of influenza vaccination on men’s testosterone. American Journal of Human Biology, 21 (1), 133 – 135.