Sex differences in mate preferences are well established. It is also well understood that humans often seek to manipulate their standing on important mate-value traits. Yet, there is a paucity of work examining potential sex differences in response to deception along these important dimensions. In Study 1, a sample of 280 undergraduates (123 females) responded to a hypothetical online dating scenario asking participants to rank how upset they would be if deceived about a date’s attractiveness, occupation, or volunteerism. Women ranked occupation deception as more upsetting than men did, and men ranked attractiveness deception as more upsetting than women did. Given potential measurement differences between forced-choice and continuous response options, Study 2 randomly assigned 364 undergraduates (188 females) to one of the deceptions conditions and asked them to report their level of upset and willingness to go on the date using a continuous response scale. Women were more likely than men to cancel the date if the deception involved volunteerism or occupation. There was no significant sex difference in the attractiveness condition. Neither mate value nor sociosexuality moderated the sex difference in the levels of upset due to the deception. Together, these findings demonstrate that women and men exhibit differences in the degree to which they become upset by opposite sex deceptions in online dating, regardless of self-perceived mate value and sociosexuality, in alignment with evolved sex differences in mate preferences.
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Funding for this research provided by an NSERC Discovery Development Grant awarded to S. Arnocky (file # DDG-2017-00013).
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Desrochers, J., MacKinnon, M., Kelly, B. et al. Sex Differences in Response to Deception Across Mate-Value Traits of Attractiveness, Job Status, and Altruism in Online Dating. Arch Sex Behav 50, 3675–3685 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-01945-6
- Online dating
- Dating deception
- Sex differences
- Sociosexual orientation
- Mate preferences