Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 9–10, pp 644–657 | Cite as

The “Problem of Number” Revisited: The Relative Contributions of Psychosocial, Experiential, and Evolutionary Factors to the Desired Number of Sexual Partners

Original Article

Abstract

Three studies (N = 329) using U.S. community samples examined the relative contributions of self-reported “sex,” gender identity, and actual number of sexual partners to the question how many sexual partners individuals desire over the lifetime. In Study 1, the more “feminine” a participant identified, not self-reported sex, was significantly related to the desired number of sexual partners. Study 2a showed that a person’s actual number of sexual partners also correlated with the desired number. In Study 3, Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) (Bem Psychological Review, 88: 354–364 1981) femininity scores and actual number of sexual partners significantly predicted desired number of sexual partners separately for men and women. These results suggest that non-evolutionary variables drive the “problem of number” in mate preference.

Keywords

Gender identity Problem of number Sexual strategies Femininity Bem Sex Role Inventory Sexual partners 

Supplementary material

11199_2010_9774_MOESM1_ESM.doc (40 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 40 kb)

References

  1. Archer, J. (1996). Sex differences in social behavior: Are the social role and evolutionary explanations compatible? American Psychologist, 51, 909–917.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashmore, R. D. (1990). Sex, gender, and the individual. In L. A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality theory and research (pp. 486–526). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  3. Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Counseling Psychology, 42, 155–162.Google Scholar
  4. Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88, 354–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bem, S. L. (1985). Androgyny and gender schema theory: A conceptual and empirical integration. In T. B. Sonderegger (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation: Psychology of gender (pp. 179–226). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  6. Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 12, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buss, D. M. (1995). Psychological sex diffences: Origins through sexual selection. American Psychologist, 50, 164–168.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buss, D. M. (1998). Sexual strategies theory: Historical origins and current status. The Journal of Sex Research, 35, 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psychological Science, 3, 251–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buss, D. M., et al. (1990). International preferences in selecting mates: A study of 37 cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 21, 5–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clarnette, T., Sugita, Y., & Hutson, J. (1997). Genital anomalies in human and animal models reveal the mechanisms and hormones governing testicular descent. British Journal of Urology, 79, 99–112.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Constantinople, A. (1973). Masculinity-femininity: An exception to the famous dictum? Psychology Bulletin, 80, 389–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Eagly, A. H. (1997). Sex differences in social behavior: Comparing social role theory and evolutionary psychology. American Psychologist, 52, 1380–1383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (1999). The origins of sex differences in human behavior: Evolved dispositions versus social roles. American Psychologist, 54, 408–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eagly, A. H., Wood, W., & Diekman, A. (2000). Social role theory of sex differences and similarities: A current appraisal. In T. Eckes & H. M. Trautner (Eds.), The developmental social psychology of gender (pp. 123–174). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  18. Eagly, A. H., Wood, W., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C. (2004). Social role theory of sex differences and similarities: Implications for the partner preferences of women and men. In A. H. Eagly, A. Beall, & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The psychology of gender (2nd ed., pp. 269–295). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  19. Edwards, V. J., & Spence, J. T. (1987). Gender-related traits, stereotypes, and schemata. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 146–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Friedman, J. H. (1991). Multivariate adaptive regression splines. Annals of Statistics, 19, 1–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1997). Hostile and benevolent sexism: Measuring ambivalent sexist attitudes toward women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 119–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1999). The Ambivalence toward Men Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent beliefs about men. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23, 519–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gravholt, C., Juul, S., Naera, R., & Hansen, J. (1998). Morbidity in Turner syndrome. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 51, 147–158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hammond, W. P., Banks, K. H., & Mattis, J. S. (2006). Masculinity ideology and forgiveness of discrimination among African American men: Direct and interactive relationships. Sex Roles, 55, 679–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harris, C. R. (2003). A review of sex differences in sexual jealousy, including self-report data, psychophysiological responses, interpersonal violence, and morbid jealousy. Personality & Social Psychology Review, 7, 102–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hines, M., Ahmed, S., & Hughes, I. (2003). Psychological outcomes and gender-related development in complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 93–101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hoffman, R. M., & Borders, L. D. (2001). Twenty-five years after the Bem Sex-Role Inventory: A reassessment and new issues regarding classification variability. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 34, 39–55.Google Scholar
  29. Imperato-McGinley, J., Peterson, R., Gautier, T., & Sturla, E. (1979). Androgens and the evolution of male gender identity among male pseudohermaphrodites with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, 300, 1233–1237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C., & Eagly, A. H. (2002). Another look at sex differences in preferred mate characteristics: The effects of endorsing the traditional female gender role. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 322–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kasser, T., & Sharma, Y. S. (1999). Reproductive freedom, education equality, and females’ preference for resource-acquisition characteristics in mates. Psychological Science, 10, 374–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kenrick, D. T., Groth, G. E., Trost, M. R., & Sadalla, E. K. (1993). Integrating evolutionary and social exchange perspectives on relationships: Effects of gender, self appraisal, and involvement level on mate selection criteria. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 951–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kruse, R., Guttenbach, M., Schartmann, B., Schubert, R., van der Ven, H., Schmid, M., et al. (1998). Genetic counseling in a patient with XXY/XXXY/XY mosaic Klinfelter’s syndrome: Estimates of sex chromosome aberrations in sperm before intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Fertility and Sterility, 69, 482–485.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Laumann, E., Ganon, J., Michael, R., & Michael, S. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Leitenberg, H., & Henning, K. (1995). Sexual fantasy. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 469–496.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Levitan, M., & Montagu, A. (1977). A textbook of human genetics (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Marks, M. J., & Fraley, R. C. (2005). Sexual double-standard: Fact or fiction? Sex Roles, 52, 175–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Markus, H., Crane, M., Bernstein, S., & Siladi, M. (1982). Self-schemas and gender. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 38–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McGuire, W. J. (2004). A perspectivist approach to theory construction. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 173–182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Milhausen, R., & Herold, E. (1999). Does the sexual double standard still exist? Perceptions of university women. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 361–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miller, L. C., Putcha-Bhagavatula, A., & Pedersen, W. C. (2002). Men’s and women’s mating preferences: Distinct evolutionary mechanisms? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 88–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Myers, A. M., & Gonda, G. (1982). Empirical validation of the Bem-Sex Role Inventory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 304–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. O’Sullivan, L. (1995). Less is more: The effects of sexual experience on judgements of men’s and women’s personality characteristics and relationship desirability. Sex Roles, 33, 159–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pedersen, W. C., Miller, L. C., Putcha-Bhagavatula, A. D., & Yang, Y. (2002). Evolved sex differences in the number of partners desired? The long and the short of it. Psychological Science, 13, 157–161.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rozenboom, W. W. (1997). Good science is abductive, not hypothetico-deductive. In L. L. Harlow, S. A. Mulaik, & J. H. Steiger (Eds.), What if there were no significance tests? (pp. 335–392). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Schmitt, D. P. (2003). Universal sex differences in desire for sexual variety: Tests from 52 nations, 6 continents, and 13 islands. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 85–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Spence, J. T. (1984). Masculinity, femininity, and gender-related traits: A conceptual analysis and critique of current research. In B. A. Maher & W. Maher (Eds.), Progress in Experimental Research (Vol. 13, pp. 2–97). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  48. Spence, J. T. (1985). Gender identity and its implications for the concepts of masculinity and femininity. In T. B. Sonderegger (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation: Psychology of gender (pp. 59–96). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  49. Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R. L., & Stapp, J. (1975). Ratings of self and peers on sex role attributes and their relations to self-esteem and concepts of masculinity and femininity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 29–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Strasberg, D. S., & Holty, S. (2003). An experimental study of women's Internet personal ads. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 253–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Thomas, N. S., Ennis, S., Sharp, A. J., Durkie, M., Hassold, T. J., Collins, A. R., et al. (2001). Maternal sex chromosome non-disjunction: Evidence for X-chromosome specific risk factors. Human Molecular Genetics, 10, 243–250.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Trivers, R. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.Google Scholar
  54. Trivers, R. (1985). Social evolution. Menlo Park: Benjamin/Cummings.Google Scholar
  55. Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2002). A cross-cultural analysis of the behavior of men and women: Implications for the origins of sex differences. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 699–727.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zucker, K., Bradley, S., Oliver, G., Blake, J., Fleming, S., & Head, A. (1996). Psychosexual development of women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Hormones and Behavior, 30, 300–318.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California State University, BakersfieldBakersfieldUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations