LAWRENCE, Kan. Grim economic times could cause men to seek more sexual partners, giving them more chances to reproduce, according to research by Omri Gillath, a social psychology professor at the University of Kansas.
Men are likely to pursue short-term mating strategies when faced with a threatening environment, according to sexual selection theory based on evolutionary psychology.
When made to think about their own death, which mimics conditions of "low survivability," Gillath and his colleagues found that men responded more vigorously to sexual pictures and had increased heart rates when viewing them, compared to when they thought about dental pain.
"We're biologically wired to reproduce, and the environment tells us the best strategy to use to make sure our genes are passed on," said Gillath. "If you think you might die soon, there's a huge advantage for a man to use short-term mating strategies to make sure there are a bunch of offspring and hope that some of them survive but women can't do the same thing."
"The ultimate sign of low chances of surviving is death," Gillath added. "After threatening them with their own death, we asked them to look at a computer with sexual and nonsexual images, to see if death makes men more interested in sex."
People primed with death triggered a lever faster when they saw sexual images, compared to those primed with dental pain. The two groups exhibited no difference in response times for nonsexual images.
"In low survivability conditions, we think that men would be more apt to pursue sex outside of a monogamous relationship, looking for ways to spread their genes" Gillath said.
The KU research is the first to show a causal link between low survivability cues and sexual preparedness in men, using both behavioral and physiological measures. Previously, other researchers have depended on demographics to support "life history theory," for instance by
|Contact: Brendan Lynch|
University of Kansas