The purpose of this study was to determine if undergraduates (N = 839) apply the same standard to themselves when labeling a behavior “having sex” as they apply to their significant others if those persons engage in the same behaviors outside the relationship. Using a between-participants design, one form asked participants if each of 11 behaviors constituted having sex if they engaged in the activity; the other form asked participants if each of the same behaviors constituted having sex if their significant other engaged in the activity outside their relationship. Participants answering for themselves were less likely to indicate a behavior was having sex for all behaviors except penile-anal and penile-vaginal intercourse. Men were also more likely than women to indicate most behaviors were having sex. (more)
Differing male vs. female standards on what is “sex” are probably related to these reputational pressures:
Buss presented data from a cross-cultural study across 15 different cultures (n=2,471) that examined the impact of various acts on status and reputation. Results:
- Being a virgin and effect on status and reputation: male’s reputation does down, female’s goes up.
- Being sexually experienced on status and reputation: male’s goes up, female’s varies, but is less positive.
- Reputation as an easily accessible sexual partner: negative for both males and females.
- Having sex with a date on the first night: tends to be bad for both, but worse for females than males.
- Having sex with two people in one night: negative impact of status and reputation for both sexes, but more for women than men; Women view other women more negatively than they view men who have had sex with two people in one night.
- Being unfaithful to a Long-Term mate: decreases status for both sexes, but women more than men.
- Having an unfaithful mate: loss of status for both sexes, but more status loss for men than for women.
In other words, sexual double standards exist and are robust across cultures, and the reputational consequences are ubiquitous but worse for women than for men. (more)
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