Academic journal article
By Yost, Megan R.; Zurbriggen, Eileen L.
The Journal of Sex Research , Vol. 43, No. 2
Sociosexuality refers to a person's willingness to engage in sexual activity with a variety of partners outside of a romantic relationship (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991). In recent years, sociosexuality has typically been measured by using the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (Simpson & Gangestad, 1991), which includes behavioral, attitudinal, and fantasy components. Individuals who score high on this scale are said to have an "unrestricted" sexuality. A person who possesses an unrestricted sociosexual orientation does not need a romantic relationship in order to have sex; in contrast, a person who possesses a restricted sociosexual orientation prefers to have an emotional bond with a partner before sex occurs. Sociosexual orientation has been shown to influence romantic partner preferences and dating behaviors. Unrestricted people value physical attractiveness and social visibility over personal and parental qualities in a romantic partner (Simpson & Gangestad, 1992); they also tend to have dating partners who are more attractive but less affectionate than restricted individuals (Simpson & Gangestad, 1992). Sociosexuality is negatively correlated with self-reported motivation to engage in romantic relationships for the sense of emotional closeness (Jones, 1998). As scores in sociosexuality become more unrestricted, the willingness to pursue romantic or sexual behavior outside of established relationships increases (Seal, Agostinelli, & Hannett, 1994).
Gender Differences in the Correlates of Sociosexuality
Studies comparing women and men have suggested that an unrestricted sociosexual orientation may be problematic when endorsed by men but relatively innocuous when endorsed by women. For example, a number of studies have explored the ways sociosexuality affects men's dating strategies. When competing for a date, unrestricted men used direct competitive strategies, while restricted men accentuated their positive personality characteristics, presenting themselves as "nice guys" (Simpson, Gangestad, Christensen, & Leck, 1999). Moreover, in the beginning stages of romantic relationships, a more unrestricted sociosexuality was associated with greater dominance and social engagement as well as more phoniness (Simpson, Gangestad, & Biek, 1993). In women, a more unrestricted sociosexual orientation was only associated with nonverbal behaviors that suggest flirtation or an interest in others, such as leaning forward and tilting one's head to the side (Simpson et al., 1993).
Concerning attitudinal correlates, Walker, Tokar, and Fischer (2000) found sociosexuality in men was associated with a variety of attitudes related to sexism and traditional masculinity; men scoring low on sociosexuality were more likely to believe in sex role egalitarianism, to hold liberal feminist attitudes, and to seek to transcend traditional masculinity. Because the concept of masculinity often includes themes of social dominance, aggression, and control (Mahalik et al., 2003), these relationships between sociosexuality and masculinity may be problematic.
Research on personality characteristics that correlate with sociosexuality has also yielded results that are of more concern in men than in women. Reise and Wright (1996) found that unrestricted men reported personalities similar to those of narcissists and psychopaths. In comparison to restricted men, they tended to describe themselves as unlikely to feel guilt, lacking the capacity for close relationships, attractive, and ethically inconsistent. Unrestricted women also described themselves as attractive and ethically inconsistent. However, they did not report the other, slightly pathological characteristics that men did. Instead, relatively unrestricted women described themselves as liberal, unconventional, unpredictable, and unconcerned with philosophical problems, and reported enjoying sexual experiences. In addition, sociosexuality was uncorrelated with narcissism, psychopathy, and histrionic and borderline personality characteristics for women. …