Men dissociate sexual attraction from moral judgement more than women

Julio González‐Álvarez
Published Online:
04 Nov 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 52 Issue 5

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Would you find an opposite‐sex individual physically less attractive if you knew that he/she was a bad person? Would you feel the same if you were a man or a woman? This study examined whether gender differences exist in the influence of moral judgements on heterosexual physical attraction. In a first Experiment, participants (N = 214) rated on attractiveness photographs of opposite‐sex persons. Each photograph was paired with a “good” and a “bad” (from a moral point of view) sentence to depict a quality or activity of the displayed person (i.e., she/he is a defender of human rights in an NGO vs. she/he belongs to a terrorist group). Compared with women, men were significantly less influenced by sentence valence in their attractiveness ratings. A second Experiment (N = 105) using photographs of very attractive people showed the same pattern of results. The data suggest that sexual attraction is relatively less permeable to moral factors in men, and that this sex difference is consistent with an evolutionary approach to human sexuality.

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