Sex-linked mating strategies diverge with a manipulation of genital salience
Trivers (Sexual selection and the descent of man, Aldine-Atherton, Chicago, pp 136–179, 1972) proposed that evolutionary factors should favor divergent mating strategies for males versus females. Such differences may be less pronounced among human beings than other animals and social norms and sex roles are also pertinent influences. The present experiment (N = 133 college undergraduates, 74 female) sought to bypass some of these other influences. Participants were randomly assigned to a condition designed to increase attention to the genital region (a downward pointing arrow) or not (an upward pointing arrow). They then reported on their interest in short-term (e.g., a one-night stand) and long-term (e.g., a potential marital partner) mating opportunities. A theory-consistent three-way interaction occurred such that the genital salience manipulation primed a shorter-term reproductive strategy among men and a longer-term reproductive strategy among women. The results provide unique support for evolution-linked ideas about sex differences in the form of a role for bodily attention.