Partner status influences women's interest in men

May 28, 2009

A study by Indiana University neuroscientist Heather Rupp found that a woman's partner status influenced her interest in the opposite sex.

In the study, women both with and without sexual partners showed little difference in their subjective ratings of photos of men when considering such measures as masculinity and attractiveness. However, the women who did not have sexual partners spent more time evaluating photos of men, demonstrating a greater interest in the photos. No such difference was found between men who had sexual partners and those who did not.

"These findings may reflect sex differences in reproductive strategies that may act early in the cognitive processing of potential partners and contribute to sex differences in sexual attraction and behavior," said Rupp, assistant scientist at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.

The study was published in the March issue of "Human Nature."

For the study, 59 men and 56 women rated 510 photos of opposite-sex faces for realism, masculinity/femininity, attractiveness, or affect. Participants were instructed to give their "gut" reaction and to rate the pictures as quickly as possible. The men and women ranged in age from 17 to 26, were heterosexual, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and were not using hormonal contraception. Of the women, 21 reported they had a current sexual partner; 25 of the men reported having a sexual partner.

This is the first study to report whether having a current sexual partner influences interest in the opposite sex. Other studies have demonstrated that hormones, relationship goals and influence such interest.

"That there were no detectable effects of sexual partner status on women's subjective ratings of male faces, but there were on response times, which emphasizes the subtlety of this effect and introduces the possibility that sexual partner status impacts women's cognitive processing of novel male faces but not necessarily their conscious subjective appraisal," the authors wrote in the journal article.

The researchers also note that influence of partner status in women could reflect that , on average, are relatively committed in their romantic relationships, "which possibly suppresses their attention to and appraisal of alternative partners."

Source: Indiana University (news : web)

Explore further: New insights into eyewitness memory from groundbreaking replication initiative

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wealth and brains last, but where's the love?

Nov 27, 2006

It's not often beauty, brains and wealth finish last, especially in the bedroom. But when it comes to finding a sexual partner in Australia, the top priority for most men and women is finding a partner who loves and cares ...

Half of women have negative feelings about 1-night stands

Jun 25, 2008

The sexual and feminist revolutions were supposed to free women to enjoy casual sex just as men always had. Yet according to Professor Anne Campbell from Durham University in the UK, the negative feelings reported by women ...

Recommended for you

Mother-daughter research team studies severe-weather phobia

12 hours ago

No one likes severe weather, but for some just the thought of a thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane or blizzard can severely affect their lives. When blood pressures spike, individuals obsessively monitor weather forecasts and ...

Study: Pupil size shows reliability of decisions

Sep 18, 2014

Te precision with which people make decisions can be predicted by measuring pupil size before they are presented with any information about the decision, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational Bi ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

SincerelyTwo
1 / 5 (1) May 28, 2009
.............
zilqarneyn
not rated yet May 29, 2009
Subjectively, I'm fond of the thought outcome. Interpreting like that is optimistic.

On other thought, though, I might offer testing for the point that, the women who evaluate men at length, might be not choosing to get into relationship, at all. :-)) That is, a fundamental personality difference, rather than the women's status as alone or partner.