Research Matters

Research Matters

Sex and the Economy

Grim economic times could cause men to seek more sexual partners, giving them more chances to reproduce, according to research by Omri Gillath, a social psychology professor at the University of Kansas.

Episode #107

2 minutes (3.1 MB) | Download mp3


An investigator finds that grim economic times could cause men to seek more sexual partners. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I’m Brendan Lynch.

According to research by Omri Gillath, a social psychology professor at KU, men are more likely to pursue short-term mating strategies when faced with a threatening environment.

Gillath: If you think you might die soon, the best thing that you can do is create as many kids as you can — spread you genes around and hope that your partners take care of them. There’s a huge advantage for a man to use these short-term mating strategies.

When made to think about their own death Gillath and his colleagues found that men responded more vigorously to sexual pictures and had increased heart rates when viewing them, compared to when they thought about just dental pain.

Gillath: The ultimate sign of low chances of surviving is death. After threatening them with their own death, we asked them to all kind of test some were with a computer and we asked them to look at a computer with sexual and nonsexual images, to see if death makes men more interested in sex.”

Could a terrible economy prompt men to stray away from their long-term committed relationships and follow a more promiscuous lifestyle? Gillath thinks that’s possible.

Gillath: The economy today is giving us signs that we have lower chances of survival. There’s not as much money, we’re not sure if we’re going to have our jobs, we’re not sure we can support our existing kids. It’s like living on the savannah and discovering you don’t have enough fruit and the animals are scarce. In such times, guys might be more inclined to spread their genes and hence be highly prepared for sex.”

For more on mating strategies and the economy, log on to Research Matters dot KU dot EDU. For the University of Kansas, I’m Brendan Lynch.

Tell Me More

Permanently dismal economy could prompt men to seek more sex partners

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university’s programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX coordinators for their respective campuses: Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access,, 1246 West Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS 66205, 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City, Kansas, medical center campuses).