Navigation Links
Sex, drugs and moral goals: Penn study of reproductive strategies and recreational drug use

PHILADELPHIA - Why is there so much disagreement about whether using recreational drugs is morally wrong? A University of Pennsylvania psychology study shows that the debate about drugs might really be about sex.

The study compared two competing theories.

One theory -- the conventional wisdom in political science -- sees drug attitudes as primarily coming from people's political ideology, level of religious commitment, and personality, for example, openness to experience.

The other theory, proposed by the researchers and driven by ideas from evolutionary psychology, holds that drug attitudes are really driven by people's reproductive strategies.

When the Penn researchers questioned almost 1,000 people in two subject populations, one undergraduate and one Internet-based, a clear winner emerged between the competing theories: Differences in reproductive strategies are driving individuals' different views on recreational drugs.

While many items predict to some extent whether people are opposed to recreational drugs, the most closely related predictors are people's views on sexual promiscuity. While people who are more religious and those who are more politically conservative do tend to oppose recreational drugs, in both study samples the predictive power of these religious and ideological items was reduced nearly to zero by controlling for items tracking attitudes toward sexual promiscuity.

"This provides evidence that views on sex and views on drugs are very closely related," said Kurzban, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Pennsylvania Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology at Penn. "If you were to measure people's political ideology, religiosity and personality characteristics, you can predict to some degree how people feel about recreational drugs. But if, instead, you just measure how people feel about casual sex, and ignore the abstract items, the predictions about people's views on drugs in fact become quite a bit better."

From a theoretical perspective, the study also concludes that considering morality from the standpoint of strategic reproductive interests is a potentially useful way to understand why humans care about third-party behavior.

According to the researchers' evolutionary model, people develop complex differences in their sexual and reproductive strategies. One key difference that creates strategic conflict arises in people's orientations towards casual sexual activity. The relationships of people following a more committed, monogamous reproductive strategy are put at greater risk when casual sex is prevalent. On the other hand, people pursuing a less committed lifestyle seek to avoid having their choices moralized, forbidden and punished.

The researchers cite prior work showing that recreational drug usage is often associated with promiscuity. The results of the study imply that attitudes against recreational drugs are part of a larger attempt to advance the cause of committed, monogamous reproductive strategies.

"Condemnation of drug usage might be best understood in the context of strategic dynamics, with individuals influencing moral rules in a way that favors their own competitive reproductive strategies," Kurzban said. "We expect that this relationship between sexual strategy and moral stances will occur in other areas as well, such as attitudes toward prostitution, sexual education or abortion."

The research team analyzed questionnaires from 516 undergraduate students from the University of Central Florida and 471 individuals recruited from a Web-based recruitment site, Amazon's Mechanical Turk, or Mturk.

Participants reported their overall liberal/conservative political identification, rated their support or opposition to a number of current political issues and answered questions about their personalities, disgust sensitivity, moral views, sexual attitudes and level of religiosity. The measure of recreational drug attitudes consisted of questions on the morality and legal status of using marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy, as well as general attitudes towards recreational drugs.


Contact: Jordan Reese
University of Pennsylvania

Related medicine news :

1. New Drugs, New Combinations Fight Breast Cancer
2. NICE guidelines ration affordable osteoporosis drugs
3. Bone Drugs May Beat Back Breast Cancer
4. Rehabilitation for Opiate Addiction Without Maintenance Drugs
5. Review and approval of oncology and hematology drugs at FDA from 2005 to 2007
6. Fake Drugs Bought on the Web Pose Big Health Risks
7. Scientists show how molecular switch helps pancreatic cancer beat drugs
8. Common antidepressant drugs linked to lactation difficulties in moms
9. Counterfeit Internet drugs pose significant risks and discourage vital health checks
10. Fertility drugs contribute heavily to multiple births
11. Scientists show how brain tumors outsmart drugs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... Next ... selected as a finalist in this year’s Fierce Innovation Awards: Healthcare Edition, an ... was recognized as a finalist in the category of Digital Solutions for its ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... for the care management and population health arenas, is pleased to announce that ... cost containment services, has successfully implemented the ACUITY Complete Care™ Management to back ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... GA (PRWEB) , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... supports SACC-GA and SACC-USA through membership and leadership since 2008. Gary ... Chair for SACC-USA . Gary has spent a significant amount of time ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... Dr. Arash Moradzadeh ... Man for 2015. , Angeleno Magazine is a division of Modern Luxury, ... 1994, Modern Luxury includes more than 50 magazine titles across 15 major markets. ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... announced today that it has officially launched a sleek, mobile-ready and user-centric redesigned ... his company’s new website clearly outlines the benefits that its SEO services provide ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... 2015 Breg, Inc ., a premier ... that it has been awarded three contracts by Novation, ... Novation will have access to improved pricing for Breg,s ... soft goods dedicated to advancing orthopedic care.  ... U.S. population, rising prevalence of chronic conditions and the ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Russia has always been a country of choice ... in Europe in 2015 were tested in phase ... has always been a country of choice for global multi-center ... Europe in 2015 were tested in phase II-III clinical ... has always been a country of choice for global multi-center phase III ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... CytRx Corporation (NASDAQ: CYTR ), a ... announced that it has reached its enrollment target of ... clinical trial of aldoxorubicin in patients with previously treated ... completed in Q1 2016. The Phase 3 trial is a ... Assessment from the FDA at 79 sites in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: