rate your sociosexuality

by Violet Blue on November 29, 2008

Image by my dear sweet friend, Dustin Lacina.

Now, this article, The dizzying diversity of human sexual strategies and this test at New Scientist to rate your ‘sociosexuality’ doesn’t come without a caveat — though it does come to me via Praemedia. The caveat is that to me, at least, it seems pretty gender skewed. And while the blogger at Mind Hacks acknowledges the dated ‘men spread their seed’ notion permeating the New Scientist piece, it still makes it tough to take it too terribly seriously. There is no queer here, nor a place in the reasearch for girls like me who are happily (and surgically) childfree by choice. Even still, it’s an entertaining sex nerd read. Because “straight” should always be in quotes, and binary should always be for code. You can quote me on that. I just love that people are always like OMGWHY about casual sex — like we need more of a reason than the fact that it just feels good. Snip from the middle:

So, there may be times when it pays for women to be more sexually unrestricted, but what about individual differences in sociosexuality? What makes some women more likely to engage in casual sex at any time than others – and, for that matter, why is there also such a large variation among men?

One factor is personality. According to Daniel Nettle from the University of Newcastle, UK, the classically promiscuous man will be high in extroversion, low in neuroticism and fairly low in agreeableness as well. “The extroversion gives you the desire to do it,” he says, “the low neuroticism means you don’t worry too much about doing it and the low agreeableness means you don’t really care if you mess someone around or cheat on your wife.” The situation is similar for women, says Nettle, although another factor, openness, comes into the mix to some extent. This makes sense since people who are open to experience are likely to want to explore new relationship possibilities.

Our sociosexuality may also be influenced by early family circumstances. Developmental psychologist Jay Belsky of Birkbeck College, London, believes that when children grow up in stressful, unpredictable conditions, perhaps an absent father or marital conflict, girls in particular get a biological message to breed sooner and more often because there is no point in waiting around for a good long-term relationship. “We have new evidence from longitudinal studies on this,” says Belsky, “showing that harsh parenting in the first four years of life predicts early puberty and growth and thereby predicts more unrestricted sexual behaviour by the time the child reaches 15 years of age” (Child Development, vol 78, p 1302).

Schmitt’s survey also reflects this. “In every culture, men that scored highly on dismissing attachment – which means they think they are important and other people are not worthy of trust and investment – tended to be more short-term oriented or higher in sociosexuality.” Such insecurity is thought to arise from stress during childhood when parents are unresponsive or unable to give consistent investment. “Secure men tended to be more monogamous,” he adds. Results for women were similar, and the underlying factor is trust. “If a person was high in being able to trust other people, they were monogamous,” says Schmitt. “If they were very low in trust they were much more likely to be unrestricted in sociosexuality.”

Another factor with strong links to sociosexuality is masculinity. 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. (…read more, newscientist.com)

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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{ 1 comment }

1 Dustin Lacina November 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm

“…when children grow up in stressful, unpredictable conditions, perhaps an absent father or marital conflict, girls in particular get a biological message to breed sooner and more often because there is no point in waiting around for a good long-term relationship.”

Now that’s interesting to me. Because I’d wager 90% of my friends and acquaintances (about 100% of whom are women) fall into that category (I do too) and the majority of us *crave* and actively seek out “stable” and “monogamous” long term relationships, and yet, none of us want to breed.

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