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Would you have sex with Johnny Depp? - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Mar. 10th, 2011

03:42 pm - Would you have sex with Johnny Depp?

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In a newly published paper describing a series of studies, University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley asserts that “when women are presented with proposers who are equivalent in terms of safety and sexual prowess, they will be equally likely as men to engage in casual sex.”

Her research suggests women, like men, are motivated by pleasure-seeking when they enter the sexual arena. It’s just that women are less likely to be satisfied by a short-term encounter, and they know it.

Writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Conley describes a series of experiments that refine the results of a seminal 1989 study widely cited in articles and textbooks. That study, by psychologists Russell Clark and Elaine Hatfield, found that when a female college student introduced herself to a male colleague and asked if he wanted to have sex with her, 69 to 75 percent of the guys said yes. When the genders were reversed, not a single woman was interested.

That huge difference has largely been explained in terms of Sexual Strategies Theory, an evolutionary approach that focuses on the desire, conscious or unconscious, to pass one’s genes to the next generation. If that’s our driving impulse, women need to be choosy about their sexual partners; they’re looking for men who are likely to stick around and provide support during their child-rearing years. Men, on the other hand, have an evolutionary incentive to spread their seed as widely as possible.

Although Conley also takes an evolutionary approach, her perspective is significantly different from that much-discussed thesis. She points to a relatively new approach called Pleasure Theory. It asserts “the pursuit of pleasure is the central force that motivates sexual behavior,” and that reproduction is a byproduct of this effort.

“If humans are having pleasurable encounters, enough instances of vaginal intercourse will occur to ensure the survival of the species,” she notes.

In other words, our motivation may be simpler than the first generation of evolutionary psychologists believed. Girls — and boys — just want to have fun, and biology takes care of the rest.

So why did the young men and women in the 1989 study — and in a repeat of that experiment that Conley conducted — react so differently to the offer of casual sex? After conducting a series of follow-up experiments, in which she tweaked Clark and Hatfield’s sexual-invitation scenario in different ways, she came up with an answer sports-conscious men should be able to easily grasp: The playing field isn’t level.

Men, after all, can almost be guaranteed a pleasurable sexual encounter if they’re with someone they find attractive. But Conley points to new, yet-to-be published research by sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong which finds “women orgasm only 35 percent as often as men in first-time sexual encounters.”

via miller-mccune.com

A more detailed analysis is available at Yes Means Yes.

Posted via email from crasch's posterous


[User Picture]
Date:March 11th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
biological gender differences affirmed again.
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[User Picture]
Date:March 11th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
Yay, I'm glad to see this study getting a much-needed update. The original results have been cited so often as "proof" that women basically hate sex and have to be tricked into it, blah blah blah.

I also find it intriguing that the first experiment involved a personal confrontation (attractive strangers walking around talking to test subjects) but the second was more of a thought experiment (looking at pictures of celebrities). I wonder how people reacted to the experiment where they were randomly approached by an attractive stranger... "Hi, would you like to have sex with me? Yes? Haha, just kidding, I don't really want to have sex with you, but thanks for contributing to Science!"
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