Life History Theory and the Sexual Double Standard

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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the potential relationship between life history theory and the sexual double standard. Life history theory posits that one’s upbringing (e.g., whether one’s parents are divorced or not; quality of relationship with one’s father) may have physiological and psychological implications on one’s future mating strategies, especially for women. The sexual double standard is the notion that men and women are judged differently depending on their sexual activities. For the present study, we hypothesized that participants who came from single parent households or who have had worse relationship with their parents would differentially exhibit the sexual double standard compared to participants from two parent households or who have had better relationship with their parents. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their relationships with their parents and then evaluated a target individual who reported having either 1 or 12 sexual partners. Results showed that female participants who come from divorced households evaluated highly sexually active men as less successful than less sexually active men. Additionally, female participants who reported worse relationships with their mothers evaluated highly sexually active men as less virtuous than less sexually active men. There was no relationship between a female’s quality of relationship with her father and the exhibition of the double standard.



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