Partner’s status influences woman’s interest in opposite sex

May 29th, 2009 - 1:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 29 (IANS) A partner’s status influences a woman’s interest in the opposite sex, a new study says.
In the study, women with and without sexual partners showed little difference in their subjective ratings of photos of men, when contemplating masculinity and attractiveness.

However, women sans sexual partners spent more time evaluating photos of men, evincing a greater interest. But no such difference was found in men with sex partners and single men.

“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 behaviour,” said Heather Rupp, an Indiana University (IU) neuroscientist.

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 aged between 17 and 26 years 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 men reported having a sexual partner.

This is the first study to probe whether having a current sexual partner influences interest in the opposite sex. Other studies have demonstrated that hormones, relationship goals and social context influence such interest, said an IU release.

“There were no detectable effects of sexual partner status on women’s subjective ratings of male faces, but there were on response times, which emphasises the subtlety of this effect,” said Rupp.

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

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