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Sex, Power, and Attraction: The Impact of Power on Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes

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Item Summary

Title:Sex, Power, and Attraction: The Impact of Power on Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes
Authors:Carpenter, Megan
operational sex ratios
sexual aggression
mate value
Date Issued:May 2015
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2015]
Abstract:Much of the existing literature on sexual behaviors and attitudes points to biological factors as the major determinants. Evolutionary theorists in particular cite the differential costs and benefits of reproduction for males and females as the major deciding factors in human sexual behaviors and attitudes. However, a major flaw of this previous literature is that it does not consider the social construct of power as a potential moderator of the relationship between gender and sexual behaviors and attitudes. Considering that males across the globe tend to have greater power and social status than women, it is important to address this gap. The present
studies seek to do just that. Results presented in this paper suggest that power influences attitudes
toward, desires for, and willingness to engage in casual sex, regardless of gender. Furthermore, power was shown to influence the reporting of previous casual sex behaviors for women. Importantly, power was also shown to have a direct impact on attraction to various forms of
sexual aggression, including attraction to bondage, conventional sex, and unconventional sex.
Moreover, power also impacted the mate quality that individuals thought they could realistically attain for a short-term relationship, such that people with power perceived themselves as capable of obtaining a higher quality mate for a short-term relationship. The data reported in this paper also demonstrate how gender, skewed sex ratios, and success or failure at obtaining a sexual partner impacted sexual behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. Specifically, while males reliably demonstrated greater desires for casual sex, sex ratio and success/failure feedback further influenced the impact of gender, such that men who were successful at obtaining a partner in the female-biased condition reported the greatest desire for casual sex. Sex ratio and gender were also shown to interact with each other, such that individuals in limited supply reported having a higher mate value. These studies question previous beliefs about the biological underpinnings of sexuality, and instead support the idea that power may directly influence the relationship between gender and sexual behaviors and attitudes.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Psychology

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