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The Morning after the Night Before

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

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Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. Data collection took place during the Christmas and New Year holidays. In the UK, this period is associated with hedonistic excess, but so too is the summer vacation period. The extent to which similar results might be found, for example, after southern European holidays is unknown.

  2. The qualitative analysis proceeded as follows: Some comments were wholly positive or negative in tone, but comments that contained both positive and negative evaluations were disaggregated. Each evaluation was then categorized as positive or negative by two researchers blind to the sex and relationship status of respondent, κ = 0.85.

  3. I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers for these suggestions.

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Correspondence to Anne Campbell.

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Campbell, A. The Morning after the Night Before. Hum Nat 19, 157–173 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-008-9036-2

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