This topic has received much attention over the years, and we all have our assumptions about it, but what does psychological research tell us about gender differences in promiscuity?
Clark and Hatfield (1989) reported the results of a number of experiments that were conducted in 1978 and 1982. The studies’ procedures were as follows:
Male and female confederates of average attractiveness approached potential partners with one of three requests: “Would you go out tonight?” “Will you come over to my apartment?” or “Would you go to bed with me?“.
In these studies, the great majority of men were willing to have a sexual liaison with women who approached them, but not a single woman agreed to have a sexual liaison with men who approached them. This is an interesting finding, but does it mean that men are more promiscuous than women? Is it really a gender difference?
But a newer experimental study by Terri Conley (2011) challenges Clark and Hatfield’s early conclusions by offering new, alternative explanations of their research findings.
Here are some of Conley’s findings:
- Male sexual proposers who approach women are uniformly seen as less desirable than female sexual proposers who approach men. For this reason, women may not accept offers from men, whereas men may be more willing to accept offers from women
- The extent to which women and men believe that the proposer is sexually skilled predicts how likely they are to engage in casual sex. Women are a lot like men in this respect, because both women and men are more likely to accept a sexual offer, when the experience seems positive
- The large gender differences, which were found in the original work by Clark and Hatfield, can be eliminated by asking participants to imagine proposals from attractive famous individuals
At last, Conley states:
“The large gender differences Clark and Hatfield observed in acceptance of the casual sex offer may have more to do with perceived personality characteristics of the female versus male proposers than with gender differences …” (p. 309).
What is your experience, and could it be explained by some of Conley’s findings? Thanks for supporting my blog.