This study examined to what extent individual mate selectivity could be explained by characteristics of the mating market.
Specifically, we hypothesized that females’ selectivity would be more malleable, or context-dependent, than males’ mate selectivity
(cf. Baumeister, 2000; Gangestad & Simpson, 2000). In a series of 22 speed-dating events in which 546 adults aged 22-42
years participated, we investigated whether the proportion of available potential mates (i.e., male-female ratio), which sex
rotated during the speed-date event (i.e., approached the other sex), and mate qualities of same-sex competitors affected
individuals’ selectivity, as indexed by the proportion of no’s given during the speed-dating events. Results from multilevel
analyses demonstrated that, as hypothesized, event characteristics explained mate selectivity only for females. Specifically,
women with a lower facial attractiveness and more deviant body mass index (BMI) values were overall less selective, but this
trend was only present in speed-dating events characterized by higher intrasex competition—when females rotated or when other
females in the event were more attractive or had healthier BMI. The findings partially support the idea of "erotic plasticity"
in females, demonstrating that females’ mate selectivity is more malleable and dependent on context than males’ mate selectivity.