Human Nature

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 93–104 | Cite as

Partner Status Influences Women’s Interest in the Opposite Sex

  • Heather Rupp
  • Giliah R. Librach
  • Nick C. Feipel
  • Ellen D. Ketterson
  • Dale R. Sengelaub
  • Julia R. Heiman


Previous research has demonstrated that hormones, relationship goals, and social context influence interest in the opposite sex. It has not been previously reported, however, whether having a current sexual partner also influences interest in members of the opposite sex. To test this, we obtained explicit and implicit measures of interest by measuring men’s and women’s subjective ratings and response times while they evaluated photos of opposite-sex faces. Fifty-nine men and 56 women rated 510 photos of opposite-sex faces for realism, masculinity, attractiveness, or affect. We found that these subjective ratings were not influenced by partner status in either men or women. However, women who did not report having a current sexual partner spent more time evaluating the photos than women who did have partners, demonstrating greater interest in the photos. Sexual partner status did not predict men’s response times. These findings may reveal that relationship commitment in women suppresses interest in alternative partners.


Sex differences Response time Viewing time Mate choice Face processing 



The authors thank Dr. Erick Janssen for the generous use of his male face stimuli and helpful comments on the project. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health–funded Common Themes in Reproductive Diversity training grant NICHHD-T32-HD-49339-0.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Rupp
    • 1
  • Giliah R. Librach
    • 1
  • Nick C. Feipel
    • 1
  • Ellen D. Ketterson
    • 2
  • Dale R. Sengelaub
    • 3
  • Julia R. Heiman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and ReproductionIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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