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Popular Science: One-night stand. That’s what ONLY men want?

If you ask which gender is more willing to change partners, to establish new relationships or engage in sex without love and commitment, almost everybody would answer men. However, is it absolutely true, or are there any differences based on sexual orientation, gender nonconformity or socio-cultural background? This is exactly what the Czech-Brazilian research team wanted to find out. Zuzana Štěrbová from the Department of Zoology of the Faculty of Science was one of the members of the team, which by chance happened to be composed mainly of women.

Sociosexual orientation is a term describing individual differences in the tendency to establish sexual relationships without commitment. On average, it is higher in men than in women, but there is even considerable variability within the sexes. Sociosexuality may not only be influenced by the gender, but also by how feminine/masculine the individual is in certain characteristics and traits. However, the results of previous studies that focused on the degree of femininity/masculinity and sociosexuality are inconsistent. Most of them pointed out that more masculine men and women tend to have a higher degree of sociosexuality on average, and also claim to have more sex partners during their lives. The authors explained this finding most often by the fact that if an individual is exposed to higher levels of male hormones during prenatal development, he or she will later develop more evident behavior typical of males, such as a greater tendency to promiscuity or higher sociosexuality. Other studies, however, came to the opposite conclusion, i.e. that feminine individuals showed more promiscuity than those masculine ones. Based on this ambiguity, the explanation through the organizational effect of sex hormones in prenatal development seems insufficient and the relationship between sociosexuality and femininity/masculinity is rather multidimensional. Thus, an individual with a higher degree of sociosexuality may show a greater gender conformity in some characteristics, but be atypical in others.

The authors of this study have therefore decided to focus on one of the traits of femininity/masculinity, namely the individual level of Childhood gender nonconformity (CGN) and Continuous gender identity (CGI). Gender nonconformity (or atypicality) refers to the gender role and its expression, i.e. behavior, attitudes and personality traits, which prove to be more or less typical of the specific gender. The research team tested more than 1,300 heterosexual and homosexual men and women from Brazil and the Czech Republic. The respondents completed an online questionnaire of about forty minutes on topics such as self-assessment on the 7-point Kinsey scale (a scale describing an individual's sexual orientation, 0-exclusively heterosexual, 6-exclusively homosexual) and CGN- and CGI-focused questions. For example, whether the respondents wanted to play more with boys or girls as children, or whether they find it funny to dress up as the opposite sex at a costume party. Again, it was possible to respond on a seven-point scale, and to say which statement on the scale I fully agree - I completely disagree corresponded the best to them. Participants also completed the revised Social Orientation Questionnaire (r-SOI) that measures willingness to engage in sexual relationships without commitment.

The results of the research showed that a higher gender nonconformity, i.e. masculinity in heterosexual women and femininity in men (regardless of their sexual orientation) are related to a higher sociosexuality. The higher sociosexuality in more masculine women can be explained by the aforementioned influence of androgens (male sex hormones), both in the prenatal period and at present. Another explanation may be that the higher level of sociosexuality in masculine women reflects a rapid life strategy (the so-called r-strategy, which is characterized, for example, by earlier reproduction and a higher number of descendants, which may be associated with a higher number of sexual partners). The authors explain the correlation between the sociosexuality and femininity in the Brazilian men by the fact that in a population where men show a higher rate of masculinity on average in some characteristics (as in Brazil, where Brazilian men have shown a higher rate of masculinity in physical characteristics compared to their Czech counterparts), it may be advantageous for an individual to have some feminine characteristics, such as a greater degree of kindness and understanding. These are qualities that women generally consider attractive. Thus, an individual who has a higher degree of masculinity in one dimension and a higher degree of femininity in the other may have a reproductive advantage over purely masculine or feminine individuals, as he will be generally considered to be a more attractive partner. Thus, the results of this study show that the traditional stereotypical notion that only men tend to be more sociosexual is not completely valid and there are many more factors to be considered than just the individual's biological sex.

Bártová K, Štěrbová Z, Correa Varella MA, Varella Valentova J, 2020: Femininity in men and masculinity in women is positively related to sociosexuality. Personality and individual Differences, 152: 109575.

Darina Koubínová

Published: Apr 09, 2020 07:10 PM

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