Satisfaction-adaptation principles in sexual desire: exploring gender differences across the lifespan


Gebauer, Jochen E., Baumeister, Roy F., Sedikides, Constantine and Neberich, Wiebke (2013) Satisfaction-adaptation principles in sexual desire: exploring gender differences across the lifespan Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, (2), pp. 176-184. (doi:10.1177/1948550613490970).

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Description/Abstract

Sexual desire may change according to two principles: the satisfaction principle (high sexual opportunity/frequency decreases sexual desire) and the adaptation principle (high sexual opportunity/frequency increases sexual desire). We explore the workings of these opposing principles separately for both genders across the adult life span. Two tests within a large (N = 181,546) and cross-cultural (11 countries) data set revealed that the satisfaction principle accounts for sexual desire in men throughout the entire life and it accounts for sexual desire in women until their mid-30s. From that point onward, however, the pattern of female sexual desire becomes increasingly consistent with the adaptation principle. What sets older women apart from younger women and men of all ages? We discuss several mechanisms, with a focus on the satisfaction principle’s evolutionary value in life phases of high reproductive capacity and the adaptation principle’s evolutionary value in life phases of low reproductive capacity.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/1948550613490970
ISSNs: 1948-5506 (print)
Keywords: sexual desire, satisfaction principle, adaptation principle, gender differences, life span
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
ePrint ID: 364329
Date :
Date Event
4 June 2013e-pub ahead of print
March 2014Published
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2014 14:27
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 13:55
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/364329

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