Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stronger Sexual Impulses, Not Weaker Self-Control, May Explain Why Men Cheat More

A recently published study strongly suggests men succumb to sexual temptations more than women — for example, cheating on a partner — because they experience strong sexual impulses, not because they have weak self-control. Previous research has shown that men are more likely than women to pursue romantic partners that are “off limits.” However, until now, the explanation for this sex difference was largely unexplored. One possible explanation for this effect is that men experience stronger sexual impulses than women do. A second possibility is that women have better self-control than men. The current study’s results support the former explanation and provide new insight into humans' evolutionary origins. “Overall, these studies suggest that men are more likely to give in to sexual temptations because they tend to have stronger sexual impulse strength than women do,” says Natasha Tidwell, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology at Texas A&M University, who authored the study. Paul Eastwick, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, co-authored the study. “But when people exercise self-control in a given situation, this sex difference in behavior is greatly reduced. It makes sense that self-control, which has relatively recent evolutionary origins compared to sexual impulses, would work similarly — and as effectively — for both men and women,” Tidwell said. Recently published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the study was composed of two separate experiments: the first, to determine how the sexes reacted to real-life sexual temptations in their past and, the second, to pick apart sexual impulses and self-control using a rapid-fire reaction time task. In order to test their first hypothesis, researchers recruited 218 (70 male, 148 female) study participants from the United States. Participants were first asked to recall and describe an attraction to an unavailable or incompatible member of the opposite sex. They then answered survey questions designed to measure strength of sexual impulse, attempts to intentionally control the sexual impulse, and resultant behaviors. “When men reflected on their past sexual behavior, they reported experiencing relatively stronger impulses and acting on those impulses more than women did,” says Tidwell. However, men and women did not differ in the extent to which they exerted self-control. “When men and women said they actually did exert self-control in sexual situations, impulse strength didn’t predict how much either sex would actually engage in ‘off-limits’ sex,” added Tidwell. “Men have plenty of self-control — just as much as women,” says Eastwick. “However, if men fail to use self-control, their sexual impulses can be quite strong. This is often the situation when cheating occurs.” In order to measure the strength of sexual impulse relative to the strength of impulse control, the researchers recruited 600 undergraduate students (326 men, 274 women) to participate in a “Partner Selection Game.” Participants were very briefly shown images of opposite-sex individuals; the images were tagged either “good for you” or “bad for you.” Participants were asked to accept or reject potential partners based on the computer-generated “good for you” or “bad for you” prompt. While they were shown photographs of both desirable and undesirable individuals, participants were instructed to make acceptance and rejection choices based on the computer-generated tags. In some trials, participants were asked to accept desirable and reject undesirable individuals; in other trials, participants were asked to go against their inclinations by rejecting desirable individuals and accepting undesirable individuals. Men experienced a much stronger impulse to “accept” the desirable rather than the undesirable partners, and this impulse partially explained why men performed worse on the task than women did. However, this same procedure estimates people’s ability to exert control over their responses, and men did not demonstrate a poorer ability to control their responses relative to women.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Couples Improve Sex Life through Yoga

Partner yoga may help couples who are struggling with sexual dysfunction, according to sexual wellness experts at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). This form of yoga uses massage, breathing exercises and mutually beneficial postures couples can do together to build trust, relax and have fun. “Distance and resentment can develop in marriages over time,” said Susan Walsh, PsyD, psychologist and certified yoga instructor for Loyola’s Sexual Wellness Clinic. “Partner yoga can clear this negative energy and help a couple reconnect and become comfortable with touch and intimacy." Loyola will offer a 90-minute partner yoga session as part of its new Sexual Wellness Clinic. The clinic combines the expertise of various specialists and takes a holistic approach to address common emotional and physical challenges that couples face in their sexual relationships. The most common problems that affect sexual health include decreased libido, painful intercourse, inability to have an orgasm, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Loyola’s program will address these issues in six weekly visits led by a team of obstetricians and gynecologists, urologists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, dietitians and yoga instructors. A group educational session will take place each week along with private counseling. A private physical examination also will be offered with an obstetrician/gynecologist and a urologist. The partner yoga class will be part of the group educational sessions, which will address envisioning greater intimacy, becoming open and vulnerable, finding life and relationship balance, exploring healthier possibilities, connecting mind and body, and gaining and keeping momentum. These group sessions are informational only. Participants will not be asked to talk about their sexual relationship in a group setting. “Our sexual wellness specialists recognize that there are many factors that affect intimacy,” said Dr. Walsh, who also is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Partner yoga will be one way that we help couples strengthen their relationship emotionally, physically and spiritually to ultimately build a deeper connection and improve sexual health." Couples interested in this program should call (708) 216-2364.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What do liberals and conservatives look for in a date?

Liberals and conservatives are looking for the same thing when they join online dating websites, according to new research co-authored by University of Miami political scientist Casey Klofstad. The study, published in Political Behavior, shows that both liberals and conservatives are looking for a partner who is like themselves. For their study, titled "The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives," the research team randomly sampled 2,944 profiles from a popular Internet dating site, and examined the dating preference of users who identified as either liberal of conservative. The data allowed them to compare the way each dater described themselves on a number of dimensions, including race and ethnicity, religion, and the desire to have children, to the characteristics of their ideal date. Overall, regardless of ideology, daters want a partner that shares their characteristics. Klofstad says that the tendency to seek out partners that are like us could contribute to the increasing political divide between liberals and conservatives. "Parents pass their political preferences on to their children. So, if we are more easily able to find someone like ourselves by 'shopping' for a partner online, Internet dating could hasten this process of political polarization. Of course, this process would occur over generations, not overnight." Other findings: Few individuals were willing to express a definitive political preference. The majority of online daters, 57 percent, reported that their politics are "middle of the road" rather than liberal or conservative. When asked to describe their body type, a larger proportion of daters voluntarily described themselves either "heavy set," having "a few extra pounds" or "stocky" than listed "politics" as one of their interests. Conservative daters are more likely to be males and are less likely to belong to a racial or ethnic minority group. Liberals are younger, less likely to have been married, and less likely to have children. While liberal daters are better-educated than conservatives, this does not translate into any detectable income disparities between the two groups. By and large, liberals and conservatives do not differ in their tendencies to seek out a partner that shares their characteristics. There are some notable exceptions, however. Overall, conservatives appear to be somewhat less accepting of dissimilarity. For example, conservatives are more likely than liberals to desire a date who shares their current relationship status, and conservative males are more likely than liberal males to want to date a female of their own race.

Monday, September 9, 2013

College educated cohabit before marriage, but marry before conceiving children

Since 1950 the sources of the gains from marriage have changed radically. As the educational attainment of women overtook and surpassed that of men and the ratio of men's to women's wage rates fell, traditional patterns of gender specialization in work weakened. The primary source of the gains to marriage shifted from the production of household services and commodities to investment in children. For some, these changes meant that marriage was no longer worth the costs of limited independence and potential mismatch. Cohabitation became an acceptable living arrangement for all groups, but cohabitation serves different functions among different groups. The poor and less educated are much more likely to rear children in cohabitating relationships. The college educated typically cohabit before marriage, but they marry before conceiving children and their marriages are relatively stable. This paper argues that different patterns of child-rearing are the key to understanding class differences in marriage and parenthood, not an unintended by-product of it. Marriage is the commitment mechanism that supports high levels of investment in children and is hence more valuable for parents adopting a high-investment strategy for their children.