Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 9–10, pp 695–706 | Cite as

Daring to Be Darling: Attractiveness of Risk Takers as Partners in Long- and Short-Term Sexual Relationships

  • Karolina SylwesterEmail author
  • Bogusław Pawłowski
Original Article


In an attempt to explain gender differences in risk taking from an evolutionary perspective, this study examined the attractiveness of risk taking in potential mates. Questionnaire data from a sample of 352 primarily undergraduate students at Liverpool University, U.K., provided participants’ ratings of physical, social and financial risk-taking and risk-avoiding profiles in terms of attractiveness for long- and short-term relationships. As well as showing a considerable variation in the ratings of different types of risk, we found that the relationship type affected male and female preferences in a similar fashion. Both genders rated risk avoiders as more attractive than risk takers in the context of long-term relationships. In contrast, for short-term relationships men and women preferred risk takers over risk avoiders.


Risk taking Mate choice Sexual strategy Gender differences 



We would like to thank Dr Craig Roberts for advice on preparing the questionnaire, Mr Bartek Lisek for assistance with transferring the data in SPSS, Dr Thomas Pollet for statistical support, Ms Alicia Cresswell, Ms Willemijn Spoor and Mr Benjamin Wilson for language support. We also thank the editor and two anonymous referees who provided feedback that greatly improved the previous version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Behaviour & Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience, Henry Wellcome Building, Medical SchoolNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of WrocławWrocławPoland
  3. 3.Institute of AnthropologyPolish Academy of SciencesWrocławPoland

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