An analysis of a huge cell phone database reveals that from their early 20s women are investing more of their time than men in finding a potential mate. The researchers, from the University of Oxford in the UK, Finland, the U.S. and Hungary, have had their findings published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Out of a total of two billion phone calls and half a million text messages, the researchers were able to rank each of the mobile phone user's favorite contacts in first, second and third place.
The researchers found that women spend more time and effort than men in maintaining a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex (boyfriend or spouse) from their early 20s. They found that a man's closest contact was his wife or girlfriend, but that level of contact was much less intense than for women.
For women, the peak contact time with their daughters was likely to be when the woman was around the age of 60. At the later stage in life, women tended to be more likely to be in close contact with their daughters than their husbands or their sons.
The research suggests that once fathers were around 50 years old they had peak contact time with their daughters, but at this stage fathers still spent about half as much time as the mothers staying in touch with their daughters.
Men communicated mostly with their wives, and there was what the researchers call a "striking tendency" for men to have a greater gender balance in their close relationships. By contrast, women were found to be far more gender-biased in who they maintained close contact with at any given time. "This suggests that the intimate structures of human social networks are driven much more by women's interests than by men's - men are more casual in their social relationships," noted study co-author Robin Dunbar, from the University of Oxford.
The researchers say that for the first time they have captured strikingly different patterns of behavior between men and women that reflect how social strategies change over a lifetime as a consequence of changing reproductive interests. It suggests that men are less strategic in their communications with their nearest and dearest and underlines the importance of mother-daughter relationships in understanding how the structure of human society has evolved.
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Source: University of Oxford