Men infer sexual interest before women do

In the latest issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly, researchers find that men rate themselves and the women they just interacted with higher on sexual traits, such as flirtatiousness, than women rate men. The authors find that after a five-minute conversation with a stranger of the opposite gender, men were more likely to interpret ambiguous or friendly behavior as indicating sexual interest. "The findings suggest that men generally think in more sexual terms than women," the authors explain.

Within their brief conversation, partners introduced themselves and talked about college experiences. There was no significant difference in how men, compared to women, rated their conversation partners on agreeableness or extroversion. Nor was their evidence of sexual chemistry, as partners did not share a tendency to find each other attractive or desire a future interaction.

If women found their male partner as more partner physically attractive and saw him as more agreeable, they rated the partner higher on sexual traits. Men's ratings of women were also associated with physical attractiveness but unrelated to whether he saw her as agreeable or felt the conversation was enjoyable.

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This study is published in the June issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly. Media wishing to receive a PDF please contact JournalNews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Psychology of Women Quarterly publishes primarily qualitative and quantitative research with substantive and theoretical merit, along with critical reviews, theoretical articles, and invited book reviews related to the psychology of women and gender. It is published on behalf of the Society for the Psychology of Women, Division 35 of the American Psychological Association.

Lead author Maurice J. Levesque is an associate professor of Psychology at Elon University. Dr. Levesque's expertise is mostly in the area of interpersonal perception (the impressions we form about others.) Dr. Levesque is available for media questions and interviews.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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