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The ‘Sexy Sons’ Theory of What Women are Attracted to in Men

A team of psychologists from Oakland University in the United States have just published new research which reveals that psychologists might be able to predict what kind of man a woman is more likely to achieve an orgasm with.

This is the type that women rate as being found more attractive by other women.

Raj Persaud
Source: Raj Persaud

Published in the academic journal, ‘Personality and Individual Differences’, the research explains why men found attractive by other women are more likely to deliver better erotic experiences.

The study argues that women want to have sons who are also eventually found more desirable by the opposite sex.

This theory is referred to as the ‘sexy sons’ hypothesis of sexual selection, and explains a yet hitherto hidden factor in women’s desire for certain men, and women’s experience of physical relations.

Evolutionary psychology argues that the female orgasm may have evolved as an erotic response designed to retain sperm during certain sexual encounters.

Biological theory about the female orgasm is that it evolved to increase relationship satisfaction (this is referred to as the ”Pair-Bond” Hypothesis) or to retain preferentially the sperm of men with higher genetic quality (”Sire Choice” Hypothesis).

The achievement of an orgasm, evolutionary psychologists contend, makes it more likely that an egg will be fertilized.

If the sire-choice role of the female orgasm is true, then natural selection would have shaped the female body (and brain) to be more likely to achieve an orgasm during sex with a more desirable mate.

‘Desirable’ in this context refers to evolutionary desirability, which means men whosegenes women, consciously or unconsciously, chose to pass on to their sons for the son’s future reproductive success.

It makes sense, from an evolutionary standpoint, that if women want their own genes to be successfully transmitted on through future generations that they would be motivated to produce sons who are found physically desirable by the opposite sex. The more desirable these sons are, the more likely they are to be successful in the mating game, by either having sexual access to more women and/or securing higher quality mates – thus achieving evolutionary reproductive success.

This new study is entitled, ‘Female copulatory orgasm and male partner’s attractiveness to his partner and other women’, and involved recruiting 439 women, in committed heterosexual relationships.

Intriguingly, the study excluded 32 women from the analysis, because they were unsure, or could not remember, whether they had an orgasm, the last time they had sexual intercourse with their partner.

Raj Persaud
Source: Raj Persaud

The authors of the study, Yael Sela, Viviana Weekes-Shackelford, Todd Shackelford and Michael Pham, found that women who perceive that other women find their partner to be more attractive, are more likely to report orgasm at last sexual encounter.

While assessments of how attractive women themselves find their partner predict how likely women are to achieve an orgasm during sex with their male partner, it is how attractive the women believe other women find their partner, that appears a better predictor of how likely they are to have an orgasm.

It is not so much how intensely you fancy your male partner that predicts how likely you are to achieve an orgasm, but more how much you think other women fancy your male partner which seems to predict better sexual intercourse with him.

This is exactly what the ‘sexy sons’ hypothesis would predict.

This hypothesis claims that women find certain men more physically desirable because they possess markers of good genes (those which build a desirable man) which, if passed on to their sons, will contribute to these sons desirability to other women.

Women are motivated to retain genes that build “sexy fathers” in order to have “sexy sons”.

The study seems silent on a ‘sexy daughters’ hypothesis. Maybe the female characteristics a woman passes on to her daughters, has more to do with her herself, than the man she picks, whose male features are being chosen because these are going to be shown more in her sons.

This kind of evolutionary psychology argument endorses the view that men are less discriminating about mating opportunities than women.

Raj Persaud
Source: Raj Persaud

When men find a woman physically desirable, they also tend to be uninfluenced by the view of other men. So, for example, whether a man finds Megan Fox fanciable or not will be based almost completely on his own reaction to her, and very little on knowledge that she is found ‘hot’ by lots of other men.

But we also know from other psychology research that women’s assessment of how drawn they are to a potential mate is much more influenced by how desirable they notice other women find that man.

For women, the assessment of a good quality male mate is more complex, and women therefore use the assessments of other women to guide their choice.

If people are like hotels, then women appear wired up to use a kind of ‘Trip Advisor’ in their brains, whether they consciously realise it or not, before choosing a mate.

Men, in contrast, appear happy to settle for bed and breakfast.

Follow Dr Raj Persaud on Twitter: www.twitter.com/(link is external)@DrRajPersaud

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen are joint podcast editors for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now have a free app on iTunes and Google Play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.