A 2010 British psychological study published in Evolution and Human Behavior asserted that men and women, in general, continue to follow traditional gender roles when searching for mates, and thus concluded that the posited "cougar phenomenon" does not exist, or more precisely, exists but is rare.
The study found that most men preferred younger, physically attractive women, while most women, of any age, preferred successful, established men their age or older.
The study found very few instances of older women pursuing much younger men and vice versa.
The study has been criticized, however, for limiting their results to online dating profiles, which are traditionally not used by those seeking older or younger partners, and for excluding the United States from the study.
The cougar concept has been used in television shows, advertising, and film.
The 2007 film Cougar Club was dedicated to the subject and, in spring 2009, TV Land aired a reality show called The Cougar where women would pick a date.
However, it has been claimed that the trend of influential women dating younger men extends back a lot further through history to notable figures including Cleopatra, Catherine the Great and Elizabeth I.Age disparity in sexual relationships is the difference in ages of individuals in sexual relationships.Concepts of these relationships, including what defines an age disparity, have developed over time and vary among societies.Differences in age preferences for mates can stem from evolutionary mating strategies and age preferences in sexual partners may vary cross culturally.There are also social theories for age differences in relationships as well as suggested reasons for 'alternative' age-hypogamous relationships.