Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Men will go to bed with anyone, women choosier

Men are far more interested in casual sex than women. While men need to be exceptionally attractive to tempt women to consider casual sex, men are far less choosy. These findings1 by Dr Achim Sch├╝tzwohl, from the Department of Psychology at Brunel University in the UK, and his team are published online in Springer’s journal Human Nature.

The research shows that men are more likely than women to report having had casual sex and they express a greater desire for it than do women. It is also thought that women but not men raise their standards of attractiveness for a casual sex partner.

Dr Sch├╝tzwohl and his colleagues looked at the influence of an imagined requestor’s physical attractiveness on men’s and women’s willingness to accept three distinct offers: go out, go to their apartment and go to bed with them. A total of 427 male and 433 female students from the US, Germany and Italy answered a questionnaire. They were asked to imagine being approached by a member of the opposite sex, described as either “slightly unattractive”, “moderately attractive” or “exceptionally attractive”. They then rated how likely they would be to accept each of the three offers.

The authors found that the requestor’s looks affected men and women differently. Across all three levels of requestor attractiveness, men were more likely to go out, go to their apartment and go to bed with them than were women. German men were less likely to go out with the requestor and go to their apartment than American and Italian men. Italian men were more likely to go to bed with the requestor than were American men. German men were even less likely than American men to go to bed with the requestor. These differences highlight cultural differences in sexual morals and preferences.

For each of the three offers, men were more likely to accept when the hypothetical woman was moderately or exceptionally attractive than when she was slightly unattractive, but whether she was moderately or exceptionally attractive made no difference. Women however placed more importance on the requestor’s good looks. They were more likely to accept the apartment and bed requests from an exceptionally attractive man than from either a moderately attractive or slightly unattractive man.

The authors conclude: “While men are not entirely insensitive to their requestor’s attractiveness, women have higher standards and are more likely to engage in casual sex with an exceptionally attractive man than with a less attractive man.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How cost affects decisions to marry

"Money can't buy me love" the Beattles famously sang. And now a new paper by University of Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles and colleagues suggests "money" or more precisely the price of marriage, can significantly affect the decision to marry.

Buckles and coauthors Melanie Guldi of Mount Holyoke College and Joseph Price of Bringham Young University point out that economists have long been interested in how individuals respond to changes in the cost of marriage. In their paper, they examine the decision to marry in response to a policy that has that has not been previously studied — blood test requirements for obtaining a marriage license.

Up until the 1980s, most states required a blood test in order to obtain a wedding license. The law required the test to screen for certain conditions, such as rubella or syphilis, and hopefully, reduce the spread of communicable disease and prevent birth defects.

By 2006, however, the requirement had been phased out in all but two states: Mississippi and the District of Columbia (the researchers treated the District as a state for the purposes of the study). The repeals came about because penicillin became a cheap and effective treatment for syphilis and vaccines were developed for rubella and other diseases and pre-marital screenings were no longer considered cost-effective.

Using data on state marriage rates between 1980 and 2006, Buckles and her colleagues found that when blood test requirements are in place, states issue 5.7 percent fewer marriage licenses. Roughly half the difference is due to couples going out of state for marriage licensees, while the rest was due to couples deciding not to marry at all.

The researchers also found that blood test requirements increase the number of out-of-wedlock, first-time mothers, especially among the young, African-Americans and those without a high-school degree. The finding suggests that the financial burden of blood tests may be higher for low-income individuals.

The study also suggests that premarital blood tests may have a heavy psychological "cost" in that some individuals avoid them due to fear of the sight of blood or the burden of discovering a positive test result that has to be revealed to a partner.

Buckles and her fellow researchers hope that their results may be of use to policy makers considering other policies that directly (required premarital counseling, waiting periods and license fees) and indirectly (tax and transfer programs) affect the cost of getting married.