A British study analyzing the age preferences of 22,000 men and women on dating websites in 14 countries claims the phenomenon of the “cougar”—older women on the prowl for younger men—does not actually exist in the real world. The study determined women generally seek older men, whereas men desire a young and attractive woman, and often prefer a much younger partner as they themselves age. The study’s findings dispute the phenomenon popularized in television shows like Cougar Town of women over 40 seeking younger “cubs.” Dr. Michael Dunn, a psychologist at the University of Wales who led the study, says the findings support an “evolutionary theory” that holds that women focus more than males on cues indicative of wealth and status, which logically accumulate with age. Men, says Dunn, focus on physical attractiveness cues that are correlated with the years of maximum fertility in women.
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