Over the last decade, scientists have published a series of studies claiming that the color red is a sexual signal and that wearing it makes you more attractive to the other sex. However, a new meta-analysis of the research in this area suggests that this claim may be overblown.Read More
How many different reasons are there to have sex? At least 237, according to one study. However, that study was primarily based on young college students, which begs the question of how people’s sexual motivations might differ based on age. It’s also reasonable to wonder whether men and women experience similar or different changes in their reasons for having sex as they get older, too.Read More
Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.Read More
What do heterosexual women find attractive about the male body? A new study suggests that signs of muscularity and upper body strength are particularly important, while height and weight seem to play much smaller roles.Read More
Study after study has found that men and women have different age preferences when it comes to choosing both sexual and romantic partners. On average, men seem to prefer partners who are a bit younger while women seem to prefer partners who are a bit older than they are (of course, there's individual variability when it comes to what people want and not all men and women share these preferences). Evolutionary psychologists argue that it's adaptive for most heterosexual men to have a preference for younger women because they're likely to be more fertile; by contrast, they argue that it's adaptive for most women to have a preference for older men, who are likely to have more status and resources. If that's the case, though, then what happens when reproductive concerns are removed from the equation, such as in the case of same-sex relationships?Read More
Several studies have found that men and women have different age preferences when it comes to selecting romantic and sexual partners. Generally speaking, it appears that men tend to prefer somewhat younger partners, whereas women tend to prefer partners who are somewhat older. Much of this research has been interpreted through the lens of evolutionary theory, which claims that it was adaptive for men to evolve a preference for younger women because they're likely to be most fertile; by contrast, this theory suggests that it was adaptive for women to have evolved a preference for older men because they presumably have more status and resources.One thing you might be wondering, though, is just how stable these age preferences are likely to be across the lifespan. Do they change as we get older? And, furthermore, what about persons who aren’t heterosexual? How are gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons’ partner age preferences similar or different? A new study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology offers some insight into these questions.Read More
On average, women in the United States hit menopause at age 51. At this point, they enter what some scientists call a “post-reproductive lifespan” (or PRLS for short), during which their bodies are no longer physically capable of sexual reproduction. Compared to other species, women are not unique in having a PRLS. In fact, so many primate and non-primate species show evidence of a PRLS that it has been classified as "a general mammalian trait" . However, the thing that is unique about humans is the relative length of the female PRLS.
So why does menopause account for such a large proportion of women’s lives?Read More
Why do we cheat?
Undoubtedly, there are many possible reasons. For example, sometimes people commit infidelity because they are in unhappy or dysfunctional relationships. Other times, it's because people are going through a mid-life crisis or because they're simply looking for a thrill. However, some scientists have argued that yet another potential reason some people might cheat is because they have a predisposition to infidelity in their genes.Read More
Sexual contact between members of the same sex has been documented in numerous animal species. Several scientific explanations for this phenomenon have been proposed over the years, many of which have argued that the underlying reason may be adaptive. For example, the social glue hypothesis argues that same-sex behavior evolved because it plays a role in the establishment and maintenance of relationships among members of the same sex.
However, a new study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology suggests that animals’ same-sex behavior may not necessarily need to have an adaptive cause. Instead, it may sometimes arise from very specific environmental factors, such as a high population density combined with a heavily skewed sex ratio.Read More
Men appear to make judgments about women’s sexual intent based upon their physical appearance. For example, research has found that heterosexual men think women are more interested in and willing to have sex to the extent that they’re wearing red and/or revealing clothing. Psychologists believe that men have evolved to pay attention to these and other physical cues that might signal a woman’s interest in sex in order to avoid missing out on potential reproductive opportunities.
It isn’t just what women are wearing that matters, though. A recent set of studies published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that men also consider women’s tattoos to be a sign of sexual interest.Read More
Women’s behavior changes in several ways when they’re ovulating. Among other things, research has found that ovulating women fantasize about sex more often, they're more likely to wear red or pink clothing, and they’re more likely to flirt with “bad boys.” Together, these findings suggest that ovulation in humans isn't as concealed as previously thought.
Indeed, scientists have found that men seem to be able to identify when women are ovulating. Interestingly, however, a new set of studies suggests that women may also be able to pick up on other women’s ovulation and, furthermore, that there might be an evolutionary reason for this.Read More
Several studies have found that men and women have different age preferences when it comes to selecting romantic and sexual partners, with men preferring partners who are somewhat younger and women preferring partners who are somewhat older. Much of this research has been interpreted through the lens of evolutionary theory, which argues that it's adaptive for men to have evolved a preference for younger women because they're likely to be most fertile, whereas it's adaptive for women to have evolved a preference for older men, who presumably have more status and resources. But if that's the case, then what happens when reproductive concerns aren't part of the equation, such as in the case of same-sex relationships?Read More
Red is one of the most common colors associated with Christmas. From Santa’s suit to Rudolph’s nose to that tacky sweater Grandma gave you last year, red is everywhere during the holiday season. Red is much more than just a holiday color, though; in fact, scientists believe that it’s also a sexual signal all year round.Read More
Evolutionary psychologists have long argued that many of the physical features heterosexual men are drawn to in women reflect traits that signify female health and fertility status. The basic argument is that our male ancestors developed an attraction to these traits because it enhanced their odds of reproductive success. These mating preferences are thought to have been passed down across generations and still influence what men are attracted to today on some primal level. In a new study just published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, researchers examined whether men’s attraction to women with more prominent rear ends might represent one such evolved mating preference.Read More
Survey research has consistently found that men and women differ in the degree to which they desire certain traits in their romantic partners, with men placing relatively more value on physical attractiveness and women placing relatively more value on status and wealth. These findings have often been explained in evolutionary terms (which you can read more about here). In light of this, one might naturally assume that these stated mate preferences would predict the characteristics of the persons that men and women actually express interest in; however, research suggests that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, our stated partner preferences might say relatively little about who we’re attracted to in real life.Read More
“The birds and the bees” talk is an important, but oftentimes awkward milestone in children’s lives during which their parents explain sex. Although public opinion polls have found that most parents report having some form of this talk with their kids, we do not know all that much about the content of these talks or how they differ when given to male versus female children. A new study published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences finds that parents seem to explain “the birds and the bees” in very different ways based upon the sex of their child and, further, that these explanations are consistent with evolutionarily evolved mating strategies.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a male reader who asked the following:
“I ejaculate prematurely when I am with my wife, but I last for hours with other women. I am really turned on by my wife and we talk dirty to each other about cuckold stuff. I also know she has had sex with another man/men even though we are married, but she will never speak of the extent of her sexual escapades. So, what is my problem? Can you explain why I might have premature ejaculation with her but not other women?”
Thanks for this interesting question. Before you start labeling this situation a “problem,” let’s take a look at what the research says.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know more about the topic of menopause:
“Are humans the only species in which the females experience menopause? Why does menopause exist?”
Thanks for these great questions! As it turns out, human females are not unique in having what some scientists term a “post-reproductive lifespan” (or PRLS for short). In fact, studies have found that many primate and non-primate species show evidence of a PRLS .Read More
A woman of reproductive age has the potential to become pregnant from vaginal intercourse regardless of whether she experiences an orgasm. This fact has prompted an ongoing debate about the purpose of the female orgasm. If it is not essential to reproduction, then why does it occur? Numerous theories exist. To name a few, some have argued that the female orgasm is a “sperm retention mechanism," while others have claimed that it has no purpose and is just a “fantastic bonus.” One additional theory that has received an increasing amount of research attention is that perhaps orgasms serve as a feedback mechanism that provides women with information about the reproductive potential and quality of their partners. A new study just published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology provides some support for this ideaRead More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people's questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week's question comes from a reader who wanted to know the following:
"Is there any truth to the idea that women have a sexual peak in their 30s?"
Great question! The idea that women have a sexual peak in their 30s likely originated with Alfred Kinsey, whose research in the 1950s revealed that women in their 30s reported the most orgasms compared to women of all other ages. But are more orgasms in and of themselves necessarily a sign that thirty-something women are having a sexual "peak?" Not necessarily, in fact, many have argued that these women aren't more desirous of sex and instead have probably just figured out more effective ways of reaching orgasm than their younger counterparts. However, more recent research suggests that there might indeed be something to back up the idea that women experience at least a small sexual peak and that perhaps there is even an evolutionary reason for this.Read More