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Posted June 28, Reviewed by Kaja Perina. Choosing to have sex with a total stranger is not something everyone would do. It probably takes a certain type of person.
You might not. but many people would, especially men.
Quite a bit of evidence suggests that, at least when it comes to eagerly having sex with strangers, it might also take being a man. This is especially true when it comes to desires for short-term mating with many different sexual partners Schmitt et al.
In a classic social psychological experiment from the s, Clark and Hatfield put the idea of sex differences in consenting to sex with strangers to a real-life test. They had experimental confederates approach college students across various campuses and ask, "I've been noticing you around campus.
Cultural shifts in dating
I find you to be very attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight? In terms of effect size, this is one of the largest sex differences ever discovered in psychological science Hyde, Several scholars have modified the experimental "ask for sex" method to see if they could tell why men, but not women, agreed to sex with strangers.
Clark was among the first to address the issue of physical safety. He had college-aged confederates call up a personal friend on the phone and say "I have a good friend, whom I have known since childhoodcoming to Tallahassee. You two are just made for each other. When asked, not one of the 95 percent of women who declined sex reported that physical safety concerns were a reason. Surbey and Conohan wondered whether worries of safety, pregnancystigma, or disease were holding women back from saying yes to sex with a stranger.
In a "safe sex" experimental condition, they asked people, "If the opportunity presented itself to have sexual intercourse with an anonymous member of the opposite sex who was as physically attractive as yourself but no more so and who you overheard a friend describe as being a well-liked and trusted individual who would never hurt a flydo you think that, if there was no chance of forming a more durable relationship, and no risk of pregnancy, discovery, or disease, that you would do so?
Safety concerns can also be addressed by examining men's and women's sexuality across varying sexual orientations. Among lesbians, for instance, safety concerns about the greater strength of opposite sex mates are not present. Schmitt examined men's and women's attitudes toward casual sex around the world and found wherever you go lesbians tend to have the same sexual attitudes as heterosexual women and gay men have the same attitudes as heterosexual men.
Why do women want to have one night stands?
Moreover, in every region he examined, regardless of orientation, men tended to have more positive attitudes toward casual sex as women. Under gender -target controlled conditions, sex differences in casual sex appear to reveal themselves even further.
Some have wondered whether men's greater tendency to succumb to sexual temptations might result, not from men's desires, but from women's tendency to have greater control over themselves. In a series of experiments, Tidwell and Eastwick found this was not the case. Instead, their research found "men succumbed to the sexual temptations more than women, and this sex difference emerged because men experienced stronger impulses, not because they exerted less intentional control.
So, sex differences in agreeing to sex with strangers are not just a matter of safety issues, pregnancy concerns, stigma, disease avoidance, or self-control. Controlling for all of that, researchers still find large sex differences in sexual behavior, including the willingness to have sex with a stranger. Although men say they are more interested in various forms of short-term mating, though, perhaps women would do so if it were not socially undesirable to do so?
Well, as noted above, experimental real-world tests suggest women are much less likely to consent to sex with strangers than men are. That is, typically both women's AND men's sociosexuality are reduced when controlling for impression management.
About a 10 percent reduction in the size. Not explained away by any means. Another clue that women really do have less positive attitudes toward casual sex is research using the bogus pipeline procedure. Sex differences in sexual attitudes as measured by the Sexual Opinion Survey—a basic measure of erotophilia remained ificant across all three testing conditions.
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This result confirms responses to sex surveys under anonymous conditions are as valid as when administered under a lie detector condition. So, sex differences in sexual attitudes do not "disappear" from view when men and women are presumably more likely to tell the truth. They are the same as when people are given true feelings of anonymity when completing sex surveys which most sex researchers know to do ; Robertson et al.
Behaviorallymen are more likely than women to be willing to pay for short-term sex with male or female prostitutes. The equivalent statistic for women who have paid for sex with a prostitute Are these limited to Danish and Swedish men? According to ProCon. Why does it appear that women do not need to pay for short-term sex?
Could it be that men, on average, are more eager than women are for casual sex and tend to desire sex with more numerous partners, including complete strangers? In a study, Helmers et al. Again, men were much more likely than women to be willing to do so with an opposite sex partner.
For women, they were relatively unlikely to do so, about equally unlikely whether the stranger was a man or a woman. Many of these sex differences are culturally universalhaving been observed in dozens of samples around the world Lippa, ; Schmitt, One might claim universal features of "patriarchy" or "sex role socialization" are primarily responsible for this sex difference universality, and this is certainly partly true though that doesn't make these sex differences a "myth" and merely adds more to be explained.
Moreover, there are serious questions as to patriarchy and sex role socialization being the only explanations. For instance, in a large cross-cultural study involving 58 nations i. This is exactly the opposite of what we would expect if patriarchy and sex role socialization are the prime culprits behind sex differences in consenting to sex with strangers. Similarly, when Schmitt asked men and women of the ISDP-2, "If the conditions were right, would you consider having sexual intercourse with someone you viewed as desirable if you had known that person for 1 minute?
In Scandinavia, very large sex differences were found, as shown in the chart below:.
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How can this be? Why are these sex differences larger in gender egalitarian Scandinavian nations? Overall, when looking across cultures, reduced patriarchy doesn't make these and most other psychological sex differences go away; it makes them larger Schmitt, So much for blaming patriarchy and sex role socialization. DeceiveInveigle, Obfuscate.
Despite this wealth of confirmatory evidence--as evidenced in real life experiments controlling for many confounds and alternative explanationsnumerous meta-analyses of sexual attitudes, and decades of work on sex differences in sexual cognitionfantasy, emotion, and behavior--some scholars have deemed the notion that men are more eager than women are for sex with complete strangers as a total "myth" Rudman, Like extreme climate change deniers 1some of these scholars focus on a few contrived studies, torture the findings into a false narrative, and then claim that a few new empirical completely refute a mountain of well-established evidence.
Below I explain why two particular studies commonly used in this manner do not refute the mountain of evidence supporting sex differences in willingness to have sex with strangers. In fact, they are very much a part of the mountain. Baranowski and Hecht conducted two experiments relevant to assessing whether men and women differ in willingness to have sex with a stranger. In Experiment 1, they had confederates approach participants at a "party" at the bar, dance floor, or a smoking area at night.
Would you like to have sex with me? In contrast, only one woman 4 percent agreed to have sex with a stranger and she was not in a relationship.
In a second "on campus" condition, 14 percent of men and 0 percent of women agreed to sex with a complete stranger. Clearly requests at parties are more conducive to stranger sex than requests on campus at least for men. Also clear from this first experiment is that men are more receptive to requests for sex from total strangers.
In a second experiment, Baranowski and Hecht presented participants with a complex sequence of " dating study" experiences over time. Eventually, participants were brought into a university lab and were shown pictures of 10 people who presumably had ly reported they wanted to either "date" or "have sex" with the participant.
If the participant then chose any of the pictures to date or have sex with in return, the researchers said they would then film an hour discussion between the interested individuals and then leave them to have a date or have sex in a safe laboratory environment.
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This is legal in Germany where the study was conducted. What were the amazing "there are no sex differences in desires for having sex with a stranger" findings?
This rate did not differ from the female consent rate 97 percent. Those were for "date or sex. As it stands, it might be that men agree to a date 1 percent of the time and to sex percent of the time unlikely, but possiblewhereas women agree to a date 97 percent of the time and to sex 1 percent of the time.
What’s it really like?
Because of this double-barreled reporting, we simply can't know what the truth is about sex differences in wanting to have sex with strangers from the published Baranowski and Hecht percentage. It's unbelievable that these were published in this form, or that serious scholars would claim this published study is definitive proof that sex differences in consenting to sex with strangers are a "myth" Rudman, Indeed, in order to do so they misinform readers about the findings, such as Rudman's claim " percent of the men and 97 percent of the women agreed to potentially have sex with at least one stranger, which did not statistically differ.
Rudman claimed the percent versus 97 percent is just about sex with a stranger. Well, the Baranowski and Hecht published data specifically cited by Rudman were about the "date or sex" with a stranger findings. There were no percentage findings for just the sex condition in the published Baranowski and Hecht data. Most importantly, Baranowski and Hecht did report the raw of strangers that men and women agreed to have sex with in their Experiment 2. These key data are actually relevant for evaluating Rudman's claim that sex differences in consenting to sex with strangers are a "myth.
So sex differences in consenting to sex with strangers did not disappear in this research study : Baranowski and Hecht clearly found sex differences in consenting to sex with strangers in both of their experiments. Converging lines of evidence, indeed.
This study did not involve actual real-life requests. Although her theoretical portrayal of evolutionary psychology was highly flawed see Schmitt et al. Most importantly, Conley found in an "unknown stranger" condition there were very large sex differences in willingness to have sex with strangers. Using a rating scale, Conley found 74 percent of men would "entertain the possibility of the sexual offer" rating between two and seven on a likelihood scale whereas only 18 percent of women would.
This is a key confirmation, of course, when it comes to directly testing whether there are sex differences in willingness to have sex with strangers.