Human Nature

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 157–173

The Morning after the Night Before

Affective Reactions to One-Night Stands among Mated and Unmated Women and Men


Benefits to females of short-term mating have recently been identified, and it has been suggested that women have evolved adaptations for this strategy. One piece of evidence supporting such a female adaptation would be that women find the experience of a one-night stand as affectively positive as men. Individuals (N = 1,743) who had experienced a one-night stand were asked to rate aspects of their “morning after” feelings (six positive and six negative). Women were significantly more negative and less positive than men. Although women did not especially view these relationships as a prelude to long-term relationships, they felt greater regret than men about having been “used.” Extra-pair copulations were rated more negatively, but not less positively, than singles’ experiences. There was no interaction between gender and mated status on positivity or negativity. Although, in terms of subsequent affective response, women do not seem well adapted to casual sexual encounters, it may be important to distinguish impelling sexual motivation preceding intercourse from later evaluations of the event. Menstrual cycle changes may also be important in altering the strength and target of sexual motivation.


One-night stand Mating strategy Sex differences Affective reactions 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentDurham UniversityDurhamEngland

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