Do women really like taken men? Results from a large questionnaire study



Vakirtzis A & Roberts SC (2012) Do women really like taken men? Results from a large questionnaire study. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 6 (1), pp. 50-65.

Nonindependent mate choice occurs when a female (focal female) is influenced in her mate choice by the choices of other females (model females), though sometimes male choice can be similarly influenced. In humans the study of this phenomenon has been almost exclusively experimental, with the perceived level of attractiveness of opposite-sex faces being influenced by manipulation of the attractiveness of their putative partner. As useful as these experimental studies are, the question of how validly they capture real-life social processes has not been addressed. Here we present the results of a questionnaire study which analyzed responses from 206 male and 175 female participants, both singles and people in a relationship. As predicted, paired men reported more opposite-sex interest than paired women, whereas the opposite was true for single respondents. Furthermore, the amount of opposite-sex interest reported by paired men correlated with the attractiveness of their partner, whereas this correlation between partner attractiveness and opposite-sex interest did not hold for female respondents. We suggest that this contrast is related to sex differences in benefits of nonindependent mate choice arising from sex-specific reproductive constraints. Our results are consistent with the kinds of effects recorded in laboratory studies, and provide evidence that non-independent mate choice plays at least some role in actual relationship dynamics.

Nonindependent mate choice; mate choice copying; mate quality bias; questionnaire; sex differences; humans

Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology: Volume 6, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2012
Date accepted by journal01/12/2011
PublisherJournal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology

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Professor Craig Roberts
Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology