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Toward a theory of mutual mate choice: Lessons from two-sided matching

By Carl T. Bergstrom and Leslie A. Real


Theoretical models of mate choice and sexual selection typically make one of two simplifying assumptions. Either mate-preferences are assumed to be uniform (e.g., all females have the same preferences with respect to males), or mate-choice is assumed to be a one-sided affair (e.g., females do all the choosing). Recent empirical studies suggest that in many cases, neither assumption holds. In this paper, we show how two-sided matching - a branch of game theory developed in the economics literature - can be used to model mutual mate choice with non-uniform mate preferences. The economics literature is reviewed, and a number of biological applications are suggested. We charactize a systematic conflict of interest between males and females over the optimal matchings in mutual mate choice systems. Moreover, we observe that the component of choice that confers the major benefit in this conflict is not choice in the conventional sense of accepting or rejecting courtships, but instead the power to choose the individuals to whom one displays.

Topics: assortative mating, coalitions, game theory, group formation, mating systems, sexual selection
Publisher: Evolutionary Ecology LTD
Year: 2000
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