New research suggests that women are overwhelmingly not into guys who look “easy.” The findings, published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, indicate that women, like men, are sensitive to visual indicators of sexual exploitability but, unlike men, they don’t find these indicators to be attractive.
“Feminism and evolution are guiding perspectives in my work, and as such I find it important to question assumptions about women, their sexual desires, strategies, and behaviors,” explained study author Lora Adair, a lecturer in psychology in the Centre for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London.
“My work, broadly, illuminates the ways in which women have been shaped by evolutionary forces to facultatively, strategically, and even aggressively increase their survivability, social rank, and inclusive fitness. As almost all of the literature on exploitative tactics in mating has focused on men as perpetrators and women as targets, this work questions the assumption that women do not possess and use exploitative strategies.”
In the study, 151 undergraduate women viewed and rated images of men displaying varying levels of exploitability cues. The women rated the men’s overall attractiveness, attractiveness as a short-term mate, and attractiveness as a long-term mate. They were also asked how easy it would be for a woman to seduce, pressure, or deceive each man into engaging in intercourse.
The researchers found that the women associated the exploitability cues, such as looking flirty or intoxicated, with the ability to seduce the men. But, overall, women did not rate more exploitable men as more attractive short-term partners compared to men who were perceived as less exploitable.
In contrast, previous research has found that men are often attracted to many exploitability cues.
“It seems as though men and women’s sexually exploitative mating psychologies differ primarily not in their ability to perceive exploitability, but in their attraction to those cues,” the researchers wrote in their study.
“Women aren’t attracted to men that seem easy to manipulate or deceive. By and large, we find no evidence at all of ‘game-playing’ or exploitative strategies in women’s mating toolbox,” Adair told PsyPost.
“What are women attracted to? Good health and interest. In short, women are interested in men that seem interested in them. Looking ‘easy’ isn’t sexy, reciprocating her interest is.”
A sub-group of women with a high interest in casual sex did associate a few exploitability cues with short-term attractiveness. But even among these participants, the majority of the exploitability cues were not associated with attractiveness.
“We don’t find any specific evidence of sexually exploitative strategies — specifically an evolved psychological mechanism sensitive to cues of exploitability, that motivates women to target easy-to-manipulate men due to sexual attraction — in the women in our sample. This doesn’t mean that women don’t sexually exploit, harass, or assault men (although persistent stereotypes about gender roles and sexual assault endorse this view), our data and our sample simply cannot speak to that,” Adair noted.
“We find that women – unlike men – do not seem to seek out exploitative access to sex from potential partners. My ongoing work is addressing the next logical question – if women do not seek to gain exploitative access to sex, what mating-relevant resource (emotional intimacy, social status, physical resources, etc.) might women seek to exploit from potential partners?”
The study, “He Looks ‘Easy’ and She’s Not Into It: Sexual Exploitation Cues and Attraction“, was authored by Lora Adair, Brett Andersen, and Taylor Hinton.