Tag: monogamy

Are women more interested in men who are taken?

Posted in news by jenapincott on August 25, 2009

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If you believe that all the good men are already taken, doesn’t it follow that you’d be more interested in a married (or otherwise engaged) guy? It’s been found to be true of other female animals — even fish and birds — they all prefer to “poach” males already chosen by other females. And I describe in BLONDES, studies have found that men who are in the company of an attractive woman (especially if they’re smiling at him) are more desirable to female judges.

But are women more likely to chase that guy if he’s already taken?

Psychologists at the University of Oklahoma wanted to know, so they recruited nearly 200 heterosexual men and women, some of whom were single and others who were in relationships. Told only that they were participating in a study on attraction, they were shown a photo of an opposite-sex stranger and answered questions about their attraction to that person: How likely would you show interest? How likely would you be to initiate conversation? How likely would you be to initiate a romantic relationship with this person? The psychologists also attached a relationship status to the person in the photo: either single or in a relationship.

Turns out the relationship status made a tremendous difference — but only when it comes to women choosing men, and not the other way around. As expected, women in relationships were less attracted to the stranger than single women were, regardless of the man’s relationship status. But here’s the interesting result: single women were more attracted to the man, and more likely to initiate a relationship with him, when told he was in a relationship than when told he was single. According to the psychologists, an attached man signals desirable resources and a willingness to commit to family life. He’s been tested, “pre-screened.” Simply put, commitment makes men more attractive.

As for men, a woman’s relationship status, at least in this study, had little effect on her attractiveness Single men were slightly (although not significantly) more attracted to the woman when told she was single. Attached men were slightly (although not significantly) more attracted to a woman when told she was attached.

Of course, bear in mind that this study is based on photos and is hypothetical. I suspect a man’s partner has some influence over whether a single woman dares move in on her territory. Is she beautiful? Is she the jealous type? And what happens after a divorce or break-up? Is a divorced man more attractive than one who never committed?

Do beauties inspire higher sperm counts?

Posted in news by jenapincott on July 24, 2009

HughHefner Not all orgasms are created equal. For instance, intercourse orgasms are known to trump masturbatory ones, as evidenced by the amount of dopamine and prolactin produced. For men, sexual excitement produces higher sperm counts. As I recount in BLONDES, men who felt jealous or threatened by the possibility of a cheating partner had higher sperm counts than men who did not. The same is also true of male porn-watchers masturbating to a threesome. When guys watched two men attending to one woman, they had higher sperm counts than when watching one-on-one sex.

Sperm competition is the reason, according to the notorious British biologists Baker & Bellis. Men produce more copious, higher quality semen in situations in which those sperm might compete with rival sperm from other males.

And now there’s more — speculation that beautiful women also inspire men to have better quality sperm.

Female beauty has been found to enhance male sperm quality in other species. The latest evidence comes from a study led by Oxford biologist Charlie Cornwallis on Gallus gallus, a species of bird. Cornwallis and his colleagues discovered that the comelier the chick — e.g., plump with an elaborate comb — the better the quality her partner’s sperm (more motile, higher velocity, with a higher sperm count). Interestingly, this was true of dominant males but not subordinate ones, who appeared to put everything they had into every copulation. From Cornwallis’ perspective, the most fit males invest their best loads in the most reproductively fit females.

No study has yet proven that the same is true in humans — it’s not exactly ethical to recruit a guy to have sex with both a beauty and a plain Jane and then compare the aftermath. A beauty bias that affects sperm count may be true only in a wildly polygamous species, which humans are not.

Even so, this theory applied to humans doesn’t sound so controversial if you think about it — after all, sperm counts in men are associated with sexual excitement. Beauty can spark frisson. Even more exciting to ponder is how in practice an alpha male would make a larger reproductive investment in the most desirable mate. How does a Hugh Hefner decide? And wouldn’t it be ironic if this were true?

the clued-in cuckold

Posted in news by jenapincott on November 11, 2008

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In the book I write about the overperception bias — that is, the tendency of the average guy to overestimate a woman’s sexual interest, thinking she wants him when in fact she has no interest whatsoever. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s better for a man to overperceive a woman’s interest and get rejected than to underperceive it and miss out on an opportunity to spread his genes.
According to a recent study led by Paul Andrews at Virginia Commonwealth University, men are also more likely than women to perceive — and also overperceive — infidelity in a relationship. When 200 couples filled out confidential questionnaires that asked whether they’d ever had an affair, men detected 75 percent of the reported infidelities and women detected only 41 percent (29 percent of men admitted to cheating, compared with 18.5 percent of women). Not only were men more likely than women to tell if a partner cheated, they were also more likely to accuse a partner of being perfidious even when she was faithful. (Then again, who knows? Maybe women are less likely to report infidelity, even confidentially.)
In the end it all comes down to that old evolutionary bias: Men have evolved to be on the lookout for infidelity as a way of ensuring paternity. On an unconscious level, hthey’re safeguarding their genes. No matter how many people a woman sleeps with, she knows the baby is hers. A guy doesn’t have that certainty, so he compensates with suspicion — which is sometimes justified.

POLL: Would you test him for the “cheating gene”?

Posted in Polls and Surveys by jenapincott on September 29, 2008

Imagine there’s a genetic test that could reveal your man’s chances of being a cheater — or, at least, a difficult long-term companion. Would you make him take it?  Turns out we’re one step closer to having the option.

Can your genes make you cheat? is one question posed in BLONDES.  To answer, I mention recent studies on the monogamous prairie vole and the role of vasopressin, a hormone associated with monogamy.  Prairie voles are much more monogamous than their cousins, the montane vole, and the difference might boil down to different variants of vasopressin receptor genes in the two species. (Vasopressin receptors exist in regions of the brain related to trust, reward, and bonding, including the ventral tegmental area or VTA.)  Scientists have  since speculated that men, too, might vary in their vasopressin receptor genes….and that might make all the difference between faithful guys and cheating rats.

Now there’s more concrete evidence that men do indeed differ in their vasopressin receptor genes, and that that a single genetic variation affects their love lives.  Hasse Wallum , a medical epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute, found that men who had one or two copies of allele RS3 334, a variant of a vasopressin receptor gene, were more likely to have relationship crises than men who lacked the variant. The wives of guys with the variant cited more relationship problems than did women married to men without the variant.  Interestingly, studies have also found that autistic men are more likely to have copies of this wayward gene variant.

Although the study stresses that men with RS3 334 alleles aren’t guaranteed to be romantic duds and deadends — after all,  the effects are modest, other genes may be involved, and cultural factors have their sway — but it inspires the imagination.  What do you do if your man has the “cheating” gene, putting your relationship at greater risk of strife and infidelity?  Do you still date him – or do you dump him?  Would you even want to know? 

So, do you test him?

(Thoughts welcome in comment box below.)

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