Econstudentlog

Why Women Have Sex (I) [NSFW?]

the_fucking_manual[link]

Go ahead – judge me…

I guess covering a book like this here is a great way to stop potential readers from being able to read my blog at work ever again… Oh well. I’m not sure the post is actually NSFW; it’ll probably depend upon where you work. Anyway, the book is written by Cindy Meston and David Buss, the latter of which I have quoted before here on this blog in various contexts. I decided to have a go at the book after I’d decided that the Duncombe et al book was crap. There’s some overlap, but fortunately not too much (or I’d also have thrown away this book).

I consider the book to be light reading and that’s part of why I’m reading it now; Mas-Colell is not light reading. I’m not too impressed and I’m only at a 2-star evaluation at this point, having read roughly half of the book. Much of the research presented is of questionable validity due to reliance on self-reported data [here’s a relevant link] and small n studies, and the book is less data-driven than I’d expected. Often they’ll neglect to even tell you about the n’s and only talk about the percentages, so you have no clue if those 36 percent they’re talking about are actually just 9 college educated women out of 25. You could look up the studies yourself, true, but if you need to do that in order to figure out if the authors’ inferences can be trusted or not how much value does the book really add? There are some interesting notes and observations, but it subtracts a lot that you can’t always tell if they can really be trusted or not.

Some stuff from the first half of the book below:

“Back in the 1930s, a study examined five thousand marriages performed in a single year, 1931, to determine where the bride and groom lived before their wedding. One-third lived within five blocks of each other and more than one-half lived within a twenty-block radius.” [Things have changed since then, but probably less than you’d think.]

“DNA fingerprinting studies reveal that roughly 12 percent of women get pregnant by men other than their long-term mates” [Yeah, well… I know I’ve touched upon this one before, but people seem to keep writing books in which they make claims about these things which are probably not true, and as long as they do that I’ll keep repeating that those estimates are most likely wrong.]

“Research reveals that women find certain body movements to be more attractive than others. […] Nonreciprocal same-sex touching—when a man touches another man’s back, for example—is a well-documented signal of dominance. Women see “touchers” as having more status, a key component of a man’s mate value. Space maximization movements, as when a man stretches his arms or extends his legs, are another dominance signal. Those who display open body positioning—for example, by not having their arms folded across the chest—are judged to be more potent and persuasive.
Evolutionary psychologist Karl Grammer and his colleagues conducted a study in three singles bars in Pennsylvania. They coded men’s nonverbal behaviors and then examined which ones were linked with making “successful contact” with a woman in the bar—defined as achieving at least one minute of continuous conversation with her. They found five classes of men’s movements linked with successul contact: more frequent short, direct glances at women; more space maximization movements; more location changes; more nonreciprocated touches; and a smaller number of closed-body movements.”

“Why a sense of humor is so important in sexual attraction has been the subject of much scientific debate. One critical distinction is between humor production (making others laugh) and humor appreciation (laughing at others’ jokes). There’s a sex difference—men define a woman with a good sense of humor as someone who laughs at their jokes! Men especially like women who are receptive to their humor in sexual relationships. Women, in contrast, are attracted to men who produce humor, and that’s true for all types of relationships, from one-night stands to lifelong matings.”

“A person’s mood at the time of an initial encounter is an important factor in determining attraction—positive feelings lead to positive evaluations of others and negative feelings lead to negative evaluations. In fact, anyone or anything simply present when positive or negative feelings are aroused also tends to be liked or disliked as a consequence.”

“when it comes to actually choosing a long-term sexual partner, it is more the rule than the exception that “similars” attract. Several studies have shown substantial similarity between husbands and wives in their attitudes about faith, war, and politics, as well as similarities in their physical health, family background, age, ethnicity, religion, and level of education. Dating and married couples are similar in physical attractiveness, and young married couples even tend to be matched in weight. The “matching hypothesis”—as named by social psychologists—is so strong that observers react negatively when they perceive couples who are mismatched on levels of attractiveness. There is one notable exception—a beautiful woman and a less-attractive man. In this scenario, consistent with evolutionary logic, people judging the mismatched pairs ascribe wealth, intelligence, or success to the man.”

“All of the nerve endings in the vagina lie in the outer portion of the vagina, near the opening. This means that women are sensitive to light touch or stimulation of their vaginas only when it is applied to this outer region. Further inside the vagina there are sensory receptors that respond to more intense pressure. Vaginas probably evolved this way because having highly sensitive nerve endings threaded throughout the vagina would have made the extended penetration of sex painful.
Because of the way the vagina is designed, some women find stimulation of the vaginal opening the most pleasurable aspect of penetration. And because the nerve endings become less sensitive after repeated stimulation, some women say that penetration feels most enjoyable at first entry. Taking short breaks during sexual activity to focus on other erogenous zones allows the nerve endings in the vagina time to regain their sensitivity. Breaks allow women to reexperience the initial entry pleasure.” [Wondering why stuff like this was not covered during sex ed…]

“By 2001, there were no fewer than twenty-six distinct definitions of women’s orgasm in the research literature.”

“In a survey of over 1,600 American women ages eighteen to fifty-nine, only 29 percent of the women overall said they were able to have an orgasm with a partner. Sixty-one percent—more than twice as many—said they were able to have an orgasm when they masturbated.” [I found these numbers depressing.]

“research shows that men are actually more likely than women to “fall in love at first sight,” which may be the result of an evolutionary adaptation. Men generally are more quickly swayed by physical appearance when choosing a partner than are women, who tend to rely on a wider range of signals, including scent and personality, for the initial spark of attraction. […]  The qualities women seek, particularly in a long-term mate, take a longer period of time to evaluate. “Love at first sight” is just more straightforward for men.
Beyond that first rush of emotion, men also appear to stay in love longer: A study that assessed 231 college dating couples from 1972 through 1974 refuted the stereotype that women are the lovers and men are the leavers. The study found that women were more likely than men to break up a relationship [this part should be old news to ‘regular readers’ – see e.g. this post (“The 2004 survey found that 93% of divorce cases were petitioned by wives”)], and they were also more likely to see the breakup coming well in advance. […] There is also some evidence to suggest that breaking up a relationship is more traumatic for men than for women. Obviously it depends on the circumstances of both the relationship and the breakup, but in general, after a breakup, men tend to report more loneliness and depression.”

“Whereas 53 percent of men in one study said that they would have sex without kissing, only 15 percent of women said they would consider sex with someone without first kissing them. […] “Bad” kissing is definitely a sexual turnoff for most women. One study found that 66 percent of women (as compared with 58 percent of men) admitted that sexual attraction evaporated after a bad kiss.”

“Within the United States, Americans purchase some 2,136,960 tubes of lipstick and 2,959,200 jars of skin care products every day. Roughly three hundred thousand American women undergo breast augmentation surgical procedures each year.” [I was curious about the latter number because that sounded high to me, but it seems to check out; see this link] […] “women spend nearly ten times as much on appearance-enhancement products as men do.”

“Studies conducted in Germany [used] digital photography to capture what women wore to singles bars and interview[ed] them afterward. Using a computer program that calculated the percentage of skin revealed by women’s clothing choices, they discovered that women in the most fertile phase of their ovulation cycles wore more revealing clothing and showed more skin than women in the nonfertile phase. Ovulating women dress for sexual success. Another group of researchers, led by UCLA evolutionary psychologist Martie G. Haselton, found that women in the fertile phase of their cycles wore nicer and more fashionable clothes and showed more upper and lower body skin than the same women in the low-fertility phase of their cycles.”

“Why would women intentionally evoke jealousy, given that it is a dangerous emotion, known to be linked to physical violence and even murder? One clue comes from the circumstances in which women use the tactic. Although many couples are equally committed to each other, a substantial minority—39 percent according to one study—exhibit an involvement imbalance in which one partner is more committed to the relationship than the other. Within this group, when the man is the more committed partner, only 26 percent of women report intentionally evoking jealousy. In sharp contrast, when the woman is more committed to the relationship, 50 percent of the women resort to jealousy evocation.
Women’s strategic provocation of a partner’s jealousy serves three functions. First, it increases her partner’s perception of her desirability. The sexual interest of others is a gauge of a partner’s overall mate value. Second, a partner’s response to a jealousy-triggering situation provides a litmus test of the level of his or her commitment. For example, if a man is indifferent when his partner sits seductively in another man’s lap, it may signal a lack of allegiance, and the level of his jealousy can be a signal of the depth of his emotional dedication to the relationship. Perhaps most important is the third function—to increase a partner’s commitment. This is especially true among men, who are much more likely to commit to a woman whom they perceive to be highly desired by other men. A jealous man becomes more smitten, comes to believe that he is lucky to be with his partner, and so doubles his dedication.”

January 15, 2014 - Posted by | biology, books, data, Psychology

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