Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 1177–1196 | Cite as

Romance, Sexual Attraction, and Women’s Political Ambition: Initial Findings from Two Experiments

  • Shauna L. ShamesEmail author
  • Laura Lazarus Frankel
  • Nadia Farjood
Original Paper


This study develops and begins to test the hypothesis that considerations of romance and sexual attractiveness may impede women’s expression of political ambition (in the sense of either interest in holding public office or willingness to disclose such interest). As this is a very new area of research, and as the subject is difficult to test, this study does not draw firm conclusions, but the initial data results suggest at least some support for the hypothesis. It does seem from these two experiments that politics makes one less popular as a date or mate choice, and that women who hypothetically hold office would be less likely to reveal that fact to a potential sexual or romantic partner. Further research is needed to both develop the measurements for this exciting new area of study and confirm these initial results.


Politics Political ambition Public office Romance Sex Sexual attraction Attractiveness Attraction Experiments Dating Holding public office Running for office 



The authors offer their sincere thanks to Chelsea Coccia and Annalisa Klein for research assistance and to various graduate advisors in the Harvard and Duke Departments of Government/Political Science.


This study was funded in part through small grants to the authors from their graduate Departments at Harvard and Duke Universities. This research was also supported in part by NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Grant 1106401. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. No research grants were received from companies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study, and all instruments were approved by an institutional review board. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shauna L. Shames
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Lazarus Frankel
    • 2
  • Nadia Farjood
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceRutgers University-CamdenCamdenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Law SchoolCambridgeUSA

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