Perhaps as women earn more money (i.e., they have their own resources), age matters less.

After all, much of the support for the age differential effect was conducted when the gender wage gap was larger. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Washington, DC, and an expert on relationships, managing anxiety and stress, and building health and resilience. Mehta provides speaking engagements for your organization and psychotherapy for adults.

But overall in this study, there was no support for the age differential effect — age did not influence the ratings of the dates at a statistically significant level. The authors offer an interpretation worth pondering: It may that while age seems paramount in the abstract (all things being equal, men desire younger women, and women desire older men), in practice, when two people actually go on a date, the age difference might not have as much importance as other considerations, such as physical attraction and a compatible personality.

Further supporting this interpretation, the authors argue that their study had good “ecological validity.” This means that the experimental conditions of this study were a strong approximation of those in real-life.

Apart from the requirement that the participants had to provide a narrative report and a numerical rating of the date, the dates unfolded as they normally would in regular life.

By contrast, laboratory-based research tends to rely on confederates (undercover researchers), or asking participants to rate how likely they would be to pursue a date based on a photograph or a hypothetical scenario.

And though not statistically significant, the ratings of dates were this time in the predicted direction.

In other words, men gave higher ratings to dates where the man was older than the women; women also endorsed a higher rating when the man was older.

The questionnaires request information about the applicants’ age, height, occupation, marital status, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity.

In addition, applicants provide open-ended answers about their dating history, interests, hobbies, activities, and partner preferences.

Similarly, in a 1994 study using a nationally representative sample of single Americans younger than 35, the results revealed that women were significantly more willing than men to marry someone older by five years; conversely, men were significantly more willing than women to marry someone who was younger by five years.

In another study from 2001, researchers asked Dutch men and women between the ages of 20 and 60 about their age preferences for various types of intimate situations, ranging from sexual fantasies to marriage. Malouf of Endicott College wondered if testing the age differential hypothesis using a new source of data might yield more insight into the matter.

Other items probe when they are the happiest, what makes them a “good catch,” and what is the first thing visitors notice when they enter into the applicants’ residence. In the final tally, sample included 123 blind dates. They compared the ratings of the dates when the man was older than the woman with the ratings when the woman was older than the man.