Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 456–465 | Cite as

Are Sex Differences in Mating Strategies Overrated? Sociosexual Orientation as a Dominant Predictor in Online Dating Strategies

  • Lara Hallam
  • Charlotte J. S. De Backer
  • Maryanne L. Fisher
  • Michel Walrave
Research Article


Past research has extensively focused on sex differences in online dating strategies but has largely neglected sex-related individual difference variables such as sociosexuality. Sociosexuality (i.e., a measure of the number of restrictions people place on sexual relationships) gained attention in the 1990s among social and evolutionary psychologists, but has not been fully embraced by social scientists investigating interpersonal relationships and individual differences. Our aim is to investigate whether previously documented sex differences in mating strategies can be partially explained by sociosexuality, as a proximate manifestation of sex, by replicating a study about motives to use online dating applications, using an online survey. A first MANCOVA analysis (N = 254 online daters) not controlling for sociosexuality showed a significant main effect for age and sex. Adding sociosexuality to this analysis, a significant main effect of sociosexuality appeared indicating that individuals with a preference for unrestricted sexual relationships are more motivated to use online dating for reasons related to casual sex, whereas individuals who prefer restricted sexual relationships are more motivated to use online dating to find romance. Interestingly, the original main effect for sex and the significant interactions were eliminated. We argue that in social scientific research, scholars should pay more attention to sociosexuality when doing research about mating strategies.


Online dating Sociosexuality Mating strategies Sex differences Motives 



The authors wish to thank Mirna Van Den Boomen. The data used in this study are part of her Master dissertation research about the underlying motives for using online dating websites versus online dating applications.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The current research was approved by the Ethics Committee of University of Antwerp. All participants were fully informed about the general scope of the study, informed consent was collected from the participant and no compensation was given for participation. In total, 14 respondents were excluded from the study because they disagreed to participate (n = 3) or had doubts (n = 11) whether to participate in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lara Hallam
    • 1
  • Charlotte J. S. De Backer
    • 1
  • Maryanne L. Fisher
    • 2
  • Michel Walrave
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of Antwerp, Sint-Jacobstraat 2AntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySaint Mary’s UniversityHalifaxCanada

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