Sex Roles

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 175-186

First online:

The Sexual Double Standard: Fact or Fiction?

  • Michael J. MarksAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of IllinoisDepartment of Psychology, MC 716 Email author 
  • , R. Chris FraleyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Illinois

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In contemporary society it is widely believed that men are socially rewarded for sexual activity, whereas women are derogated for sexual activity. To determine whether a sexual double standard exists, both undergraduate (n = 144) and Internet (n = 8,080) participants evaluated experimental targets who were described as either male or female and as having a variable number of sexual partners. Targets were more likely to be derogated as the number of sexual partners increased, and this effect held for both male and female targets. These results suggest that, although people do evaluate others as a function of sexual activity, people do not necessarily hold men and women to different sexual standards.


double standard sexuality sex partners attitudes toward sex gender norms gender differences sexual activity gender equality promiscuity.