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Intrasexual Competitiveness Mediates the Link Between Unrestricted Sociosexuality and Indirect Aggression


The constellation of co-adapted traits that facilitate short-term mating promote the use of riskier and interpersonally antagonistic intrasexual competition tactics. Aggressive behavior can be used to vie against rivals for mates and resources that facilitate reproductive success; however, there is limited research regarding whether individual differences in a short-term mating orientation (i.e., unrestricted sociosexuality) are reliably associated with same-sex aggression, particularly indirect aggression. There is also some research suggesting that short-term mating tendencies are linked to inter-individual variability in the desire to compete with same-sex others for access to mates and reproductive resources (i.e., intrasexual competitiveness). We therefore speculated that intrasexual competitiveness might help to explain why those pursuing a short-term mating strategy may perpetrate more indirect aggression toward same-sex peers. In a sample of 290 Canadian heterosexual young adults, unrestricted sociosexuality positively predicted same-sex indirect aggression and intrasexual competitiveness, and intrasexual competitiveness mediated the positive link between unrestricted sociosexuality and indirect aggression. Exploratory analyses revealed that the desire facet of sociosexuality was driving the effect. These findings suggest that those with a short-term mating orientation, particularly those with unrestricted sociosexual desires, engage in more indirect aggression against same-sex peers, and that this association is, in part, explained by an inclination to be combative with same-sex rivals over social and mating resources.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available upon request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy and ethical restrictions.


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Adam C. Davis is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship.

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ACD wrote the manuscript draft and conducted the analyses. SA designed the larger research project that the current study was a part of and collected the data. GA and SA helped to review and edit the manuscript draft.

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Correspondence to Adam C. Davis.

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This study received approval from an appointment Institutional Research Ethics Board at Nipissing University.

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All individuals provided informed consent to participate in the current study.

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All individuals were informed that the researchers planned to publish key findings in peer-reviewed journals.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Davis, A.C., Albert, G. & Arnocky, S. Intrasexual Competitiveness Mediates the Link Between Unrestricted Sociosexuality and Indirect Aggression. Evolutionary Psychological Science 9, 50–60 (2023).

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