Snog, Marry, Avoid

Arnaud Wiseman’s recent study is among the first to look at men’s mating preference in the context of sexual arousal.

Dr Arnaud Wiseman has collaborated with Andrew Thomas at Swansea University on a study which is among the first to look at men’s mating preferences, and arousal, in relation to the context in which they are in. ¬†We asked him about his research.

“There is a lot of research in so called human sexual mating strategies. This type of research describes from an evolutionary perspective how our preferences for a partner have evolved and how this still influences our choices for a particular mate. Most people have heard of studies, among others, showing that people prefer beauty, wealth, and certain age in a partner. These preferences are not always conscious. For instance, on a conscious level we can be convinced that we like sweet, kind partners yet we can feel wildly attracted to someone who is strong and not even kind. Evolutionary theories also explain that both men and women have mixed preferences; some people are more inclined to stick to one person, others prefer multiple, shorter relationships and yet others a mixture of the two.”

“Preferences also depend on the context. On a night out we may notice different potential partners than when we are browsing on a dating site. Despite the large number of studies in this area, few studies have looked at how sexual arousal plays a role in human mate preferences. This is surprising because in most species sexual arousal is the main motivator of finding a mate. In fact, in the animal world there is no dating or mating without sexual arousal. Moreover, often people do not feel attracted to a partner inspired by completely rational and sober considerations. By contrast, we often feel swept off our feet, we feel in love, excited, or ‘hot’ when we see a certain person.”

” We found that most men when aroused preferred a short term date (e.g., like a one night stand) over something more long term.”

“Interestingly it also did not matter if men were in a long term relationship or not, sexual arousal still increased the desire for a fling. Moreover, we controlled for a range of personality variables that were previous associated with a dispositional preference for short term dating. For instance, previous research showed already that people high in Machiavellianism and Narcissism have a stronger preference for short term dating. We found this again in our studies however we found that regardless personality difference sexual arousal was a separate factor in promoting a desire for a fling. Thus, it appears that at least among men sexual in itself does not necessarily promote long term commitments.”

“Of course, in real life there are plenty of other factors that motivate most men to become committed and faithful partners. In this first series of studies we only looked at men because when looking at women’s preferences we need to include a whole range of different factors such as the menstrual cycle, hormonal birth control, and age to mention a few. We are currently already looking at this but this research has not been published yet.”