May 29, 2009
Sex influences interest in opposite sex
Women who didn't have sexual partners spent more time evaluating photos of men, demonstrating a greater interest in the photos, U.S. researchers said.
Indiana University neuroscientist Heather Rupp of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, said no such difference was found among men who had sexual partners and those who did not.
For the study, 59 men and 56 women ages 17 to 26 rated 510 photos of opposite-sex faces for realism, masculinity/femininity, attractiveness, or affect. Participants were instructed to give their
gut reaction and to rate the pictures as quickly as possible.
The men and women were heterosexual, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and were not using hormonal contraception. Of the women, 21 reported they had a current sexual partner; 25 of the men reported having a sexual partner.
The study, published in the journal Human Nature, found the women who did not have sexual partners spent more time evaluating photos of men, demonstrating a greater interest in the photos.
(There) were no detectable effects of sexual partner status on women's subjective ratings of male faces, but there were on response times, which emphasizes the subtlety of this effect and introduces the possibility that sexual partner status impacts women's cognitive processing of novel male faces but not necessarily their conscious subjective appraisal, Rupp said in a statement.