Summary: For short-term relationships, most women are more attracted to risk-taking men, a new study reports. Women who are in better health or have greater access to quality healthcare are more likely to be attracted to risk-taking men than women from other socioeconomic or health backgrounds.
Source: University of Western Australia
A new study led by The University of Western Australia has probed the age-old question of whether women prefer risk-taking men over their more careful cousins and come up with some surprising results.
The study, published today in Evolutionary Psychological Science, used an evolutionary perspective to shed light on the topic and found that relationship context and the health status of women were critical factors.
More than 1,300 women from 47 countries were surveyed for the study.
Lead researcher Dr. Cyril Grueter, from UWA’s School of Human Sciences, said the findings clearly showed that risk-taking men were more attractive for short-term flings than long-term relationships.
“For casual sexual liaisons, women prefer courageous ‘cads’ with a good genetic constitution—risk-takers seem to fit this bill,” Dr. Grueter said.
“For more serious long-term relationships, women place a greater value on committed men.”
Interestingly, the study found that women in better health and with better access to health care were more attracted to risk-takers than women from other socioeconomic backgrounds.
“Women in healthier countries may have greater control over whether they become pregnant in a short-term relationship—through contraceptives and abortion—and therefore can afford to choose a risk-prone male partner,” Dr. Goodman said.
The study also showed that bisexual women and so-called “adrenaline junkies” were more into risk-takers than heterosexual women and risk-avoiders.
“Bisexual women may have less conservative perceptions about relationships, and the pairing of similar-minded couples may bring greater relationship satisfaction,” Dr. Grueter said.
About this attraction and psychology research news
Preference for Male Risk Takers Varies with Relationship Context and Health Status but not COVID Risk
Risk taking is more commonly shown by males than females and has a signalling function, serving to advertise one’s intrinsic quality to prospective mates.
Previous research has established that male risk takers are judged as more attractive for short-term flings than long-term relationships, but the environmental and socioeconomic context surrounding female preferences for male risk takers has been overlooked.
Using a survey instrument, we examined female preferences for male risk takers across 1304 females from 47 countries.
We found preferences for physical risk takers to be more pronounced in females with a bisexual orientation and females who scored high on risk proneness. Self-reported health was positively associated with preferences for high risk takers as short-term mates, but the effect was moderated by country-level health, i.e. the association was stronger in countries with poorer health.
The security provided by better health and access to health care may allow females to capitalise on the genetic quality afforded by selecting a risk-prone male whilst concurrently buffering the potential costs associated with the risk taker’s lower paternal investment.
The risk of contracting COVID-19 did not predict avoidance of risk takers, perhaps because this environmental cue is too novel to have moulded our behavioural preferences.