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Differences in reproductive behaviour
As well as differences in partner preferences we can also consider human reproductive
behaviours. Whilst there are clearly many similarities between men and women's behaviour,
there are also some fairly clear differences which have been documented by research studies.
Buss and Schmitt (1993)
Looked at the tendency to engage in casual sex.
Men tend to be much more likely to have one-night stands or short term relationships.
Demonstrated by Clark and Hatfield (1989 and 1990). Conducted studies where a
sample of male and female students approached complete strangers of the opposite sex
on campus and gave them 3 requests; to go out with them, to go back to theirs, and to
have sex with them.
They found that while 50% of women agreed to go out that night, none agreed to have sex.
75% of the men approached agreed to have sex although only 69% of men agreed to go
back to the girl's house.
Clark modified the experiment in 1990 and warned students of the trustworthiness of the
strangers, but results generally stayed the same.
Similar results for lesbians (Buss and Schmitt)
Buss and Schmitt (1993)
Asked how many sexual partners people would like over the next 2 years, over a decade
and during their lifetime.
On average, men would like 8 partners over 2 years compared to women's 1 partner. Over
a lifetime, on average, men would like 18 partners and women would like 4 or 5.
Looked at differences in sexual jealousy.
He asked male and female students to imagine their current boy/girlfriend having sex
with someone else and in love with someone else. Whilst imagining these situations, they
were wired up to measure stress responses.
Evidence showed that men became most distressed at the image of their partner having
sex with another person, whereas women became most distressed at the idea of their
partner in love with someone else.
Schützwohl (2004) replicated this study, asking students to make a choice between
sexual and emotional infidelity in their partner. He measured their decision times to
respond and found that those who selected the adaptive response took less time than
those who selected the less adaptive option.
Ellis and Symons (1990)
Looked at sexual fantasies and dreams.
They found that men are more likely to have sexual dreams than women, especially those
involving multiple or anonymous partners and strangers.
Clarke and Hatfield's experiment on campus involved deception and lack of informed
The studies into sexual jealousy by Buss and Schmitt (2003) and Schützwohl (2004)
involved some degree of stress and emotional distress, even though participants agreed
to take part.
Buss and Schmitt's 1993 study involved demand characteristics. It is likely that
participants were influenced to produce socially desirable responses, and for Ellis and