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The dizzying diversity of human sexual strategies

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    The dizzying diversity of human sexual strategies * 26 November 2008 by Mairi Macleod * Magazine issue 2684. Subscribe and get 4 free issues. * For similar
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2008
       The dizzying diversity of human sexual strategies

          * 26 November 2008 by Mairi Macleod
          * Magazine issue 2684. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
          * For similar stories, visit the Love and Human Evolution Topic Guide

      For complete article see:

      SOME people revel in a reputation as a Casanova and others proudly proclaim their chastity. But most of us probably prefer not to advertise our sexual proclivities. Still, if you think your attitudes to sex are a private affair consider this. Earlier this year, Lynda Boothroyd of the University of Durham, UK, and colleagues published a study showing that the majority of men and women were able to accurately judge whether a person would be a good bet for a committed relationship or were more interested in a fling, just by looking at a photograph of their face.

      Boothroyd found men with more masculine-looking faces scored higher on sociosexuality, and it seems to be the same story for women. Sarah Mikach and Michael Bailey of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, examined how women's sociosexuality related to the degree to which they looked, felt or behaved in a masculine way. They found that heterosexual women who had high numbers of sexual partners were more likely to show higher levels of masculinity.

      Peter Gray of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and his colleagues found that saliva samples taken from married men and fathers contained lower levels of testosterone than in other men. Since testosterone is associated with competitive and mating behaviour in a wide range of mammals, the researchers proposed that lower testosterone in fathers allows them to channel more of their energy into their children (Evolution and Human Behavior, vol 23, p 193).

      Fhionna Moore at the University of St Andrews, UK, has also shown that a woman's status affects her choice of sexual partner. She found that women with a high level of control over their own finances tend to place higher importance on physical attractiveness in a man than on his financial prospects. 

      In a survey of 48 countries, David Schmitt of Bradley University, Illinois, found the higher the number of men relative to women in a particular society, the less promiscuous the culture was. So for instance, in east Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, where the population is heavily male biased there is a relatively low level of interest in uncommitted, casual sex. Meanwhile, urban areas of the US with low ratios of men to women, had a correspondingly high level of short-term relationships and divorce. 


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