When a man and woman meet for the first time, men may be more likely to think about sex — or at least more likely to admit it.
That’s the core finding of a study of Psychology of Women Quarterly.
The researchers included Maurice Levesque, PhD. He worked on the study while at the University of Connecticut and now works in the psychology department of North Carolina’s Elon University.
Levesque and colleagues studied 43 men and 43 women. First, participants completed surveys about themselves. Those surveys were designed to gauge masculinity and femininity.
Next, the researchers paired men and women who didn’t know each other. Each pair sat at a table for two and chatted for five minutes.
Hello, My Name Is…
The researchers gave the pairs a little advice: Break the ice by introducing yourself, and then talk about positive and negative college experiences.
Afterwards, the pairs split up. But before going their separate ways, they completed surveys about their partner and their brief conversation.
Participants rated their partner for traits including:
- Extroversion (shy or outgoing)
- Agreeableness (friendly and easygoing)
- Sexual traits (sexy, flirtatious, seductive, and promiscuous)
- Physical attractiveness
They also noted whether they would want to see that person again — as an acquaintance, friend, or date — and how well the conversation had gone.
He Said, She Said
The results: “Men rated their female partner as more sexual than women rated their male partner,” the researchers write.
Men gave their female partner higher sexual ratings if they found her physically attractive. While men noted women’s friendliness and agreeability, those traits didn’t affect men’s ratings of their partner’s sexiness.
Women were a little different. If they gave their male partner high sexual ratings, they also gave him high ratings for physical attractiveness, extroversion, and agreeableness.
“If a man was perceived to be physically attractive, he was also assumed to have many other positive qualities (sexual and nonsexual),” the researchers write.
Did men pay an exaggerated amount of attention to women’s sexual traits, or did women suppress their ratings of men’s sexual traits? That’s not clear, but it’s a good question for future studies, write Levesque and colleagues.