2020 Margo Wilson Award Winner

In 2009, the Publications Committee of HBES initiated an annual award for the best paper in each volume of Evolution and Human Behavior, “The Margo Wilson Award.” The award carries a cash prize of $1,500, and the winning paper is chosen by the Editorial Board of Evolution and Human Behavior.


This year, the competition for this award was fierce. At the beginning of the year, the Editors to nominated their selections from the 2019 volume. About a dozen excellent papers were nominated. One rose to the top. The winner of this year’s Margo Wilson Award goes to Professor Daniel Conroy-Beam and colleagues for their paper entitled “Assortative mating and the evolution of desirability covariation.” Congratulations to Daniel and his entire team!


Conroy-Beam, D., Roney, J. R., Lukaszewski, A. W., Buss, D.M., Asao, K., Sorokowska, A., Sorokowski, P., et al. [105 others] (2019). Assortative mating and the evolution of desirability covariation. Evolution & Human Behavior, 40 (5), 479-491.

 Abstract: Mate choice lies close to differential reproduction, the engine of evolution. Patterns of mate choice consequently have power to direct the course of evolution. Here we provide evidence suggesting one pattern of human mate choice—the tendency for mates to be similar in overall desirability—caused the evolution of a structure of correlations that we call the d factor. We use agent-based models to demonstrate that assortative mating causes the evolution of a positive manifold of desirability, d, such that an individual who is desirable as a mate along any one dimension tends to be desirable across all other dimensions. Further, we use a large cross-cultural sample with n = 14,478 from 45 countries around the world to show that this d-factor emerges in human samples, is a cross-cultural universal, and is patterned in a way consistent with an evolutionary history of assortative mating. Our results suggest that assortative mating can explain the evolution of a broad structure of human trait covariation.