Gender Differences and Similarities in Receptivity to Sexual Invitations: Effects of Location and Risk Perception
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- Baranowski, A.M. & Hecht, H. Arch Sex Behav (2015) 44: 2257. doi:10.1007/s10508-015-0520-6
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Since the publication of the seminal paper by Clark and Hatfield (1989), there has been an ongoing discussion about their finding that men accept sexual invitations from females more willingly than vice versa. We focused on two questions that have not yet been answered: First, what happens when the same request for casual sex is made in a different setting where social pressure is lower and such a request more common? To address this issue, 6 male and 8 female average looking confederates approached 162 men and 119 women either at a university campus or in a nightclub and asked for a date or for casual sex. The gender difference remained, with significantly more men than women consenting to a sexual invitation. The second issue concerned the perceived risk for women of accepting such an offer. We made up an elaborate cover story and invited 60 male and female participants into our laboratory. They were shown 10 pictures of persons of the opposite sex and led to believe that these people either consented to date or to have sex with them. The participants then could choose from the pictures who they wanted to meet to engage in a date or sex. In this subjectively safer environment, the gender difference disappeared, with the same proportion of men and women consenting to a date or sex. However, men were more liberal in their choice in either condition, compared to the female subjects. We conclude that while gender differences remained in both experiments, women were more liberal in a subjectively safer situation.