Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why do women have casual sex? Casual Sex: Are Men and Women So Different?

    Wednesday, February 08, 2012   No comments


A researcher upends traditional thinking and argues that both genders are looking for the same thing: Pleasure.

“Sperm are cheap and eggs are expensive.”  For decades, psychologists have relied on this mantra to explain why women are sexually choosy and men are sexually promiscuous.  However, if women are so prudish, who exactly are men getting lucky with?  Perhaps “sperm are cheap and eggs are expensive” is only half of the story, and something besides the scarcity of their eggs drives female sexuality … In a classic study by Clark and Hatfield (1989), women solicited a one-night stand to male strangers and men solicited a one-night stand to female strangers on a college campus.  Results showed that men were much more willing to accept sex with a stranger than were women.  In fact, women declined casual sex offers 100 percent of the time; men only declined casual sex offers 25 to 31 percent of the time.  These findings dramatically demonstrated that men and women differ in their mating behaviors, with women appearing sexually prude compared to men.  The study became quite influential in academic psychology, and it has been cited in over 350 published reports.
Despite the startling results of Clark and Hatfield’s (1989) study, it is possible that differences in the solicitors influenced the results.  That is, women might have perceived male solicitors as aggressive and violent, while men might have perceived female solicitors as nurturing and warm.  Perhaps women avoid casual sexual encounters with unfamiliar partners because they want to avoid potentially unpleasant or dangerous sexual experiences, and men accept these encounters more readily because they expect women to be nurturing, pleasant sexual partners.
Psychologist Terri Conley (2011) recently explored these possibilities by reconstructing the Clark and Hatfield study with several new manipulations.  In particular, Conley (2011) found that women and men do indeed have different perceptions of one another in a casual sex scenario: female solicitors were considered warmer, more generous, and better sexual partners overall than were males.  To test whether these perceptual differences influenced peoples’ willingness to accept casual sex offers, she examined whether bisexual women were more likely to accept a casual sexual encounter with another woman than with a man.  As expected, bisexual women were much more likely to accept casual sex offers from women than from men.

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