Men’s sexual attraction to women has some surprising and unintended consequences for both sexes.
Men are sexually attracted to women they can easily exploit.
The potential to sexually exploit women attracts men. Men find women more attractive and are more motivated to pursue them when they display attributes which make them vulnerable to sexual exploitation such as youth, immaturity, intoxication, or flirtation (Goetz et al., 2012). The authors explain that these traits increase women’s risk for seduction, sexual pressure, and sexual assault by men. On the other hand, women who are perceived as intelligent and shy are rated both as less exploitable and as less attractive for short term relationships, but more attractive for long term relationships. Importantly, men were not asked whether they would take advantage of women who were perceived as sexually exploitable. Rather, these men were asked whether women might be vulnerable to seduction, pressure to engage in sex, and assault by men in general. Furthermore, men may not consciously realize that cues associated with vulnerability in women are attractive to them. The authors believe that men’s attraction to more easily exploitable women may stem from the evolutionary benefits to men from short term mating opportunities.
Men’s sexual attraction to women makes them lie, cheat, and steal.
When men’s sexual attraction to women is activated through viewing sexy photographs, men are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal (Chiou et al., 2017). Researchers found that men who were shown sexy photographs of women were more likely to cheat and lie, saying they had solved more problems than they really had in order to earn more money. Men who saw sexy photographs of women were also less likely to return unearned money after a researcher asked them to verify that they had received the correct amount. Interestingly, men who were shown photographs of less sexy women did not show these same tendencies toward dishonesty. The authors postulate that men may lie, cheat, and steal in order to quickly acquire resources which can be used to attract desirable women. However, if women were to detect men’s dishonesty this strategy would likely backfire, honesty and trustworthiness are considered essential traits in a romantic partner for most women.
Thoughts of their own mortality lead men to derogate sexually attractive women.
When men think about their own mortality, they are less attracted to sexy women. Interestingly, the same is not true for women; when women think about their own mortality, they do not become less attracted to sexy men (Landau et al., 2006). Furthermore, when men are reminded of their mortality, this decrease in attraction is particular to sexy women; men are not less attracted to women who appear more wholesome. These authors also found that men who were asked to think about a lusty experience (and who were also primed to think about their own mortality) rated intimate partner violence toward women as more acceptable than men recalling an exciting (but not lusty) memory. Landau and colleagues believe that because sexy women remind men of their body’s corporality, men may derogate sexy women as a reaction to their fear of dying. It seems that men’s concern over their mortality can lead them not only to deny their attraction to women, but also to disparage, harass, and potentially even agress against sexy women (Landau et al., 2006). The authors do suggest that these results may not apply to all men; men who are high in self-esteem or low in neuroticism might more effectively deal with thoughts of their own mortality and thus be less likely to derogate sexy women.
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