Consenting adults

Kevin Lewis

August 31, 2019

A Rejection Mind-Set: Choice Overload in Online Dating
Tila Pronk & Jaap Denissen
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

The paradox of modern dating is that online platforms provide more opportunities to find a romantic partner than ever before, but people are nevertheless more likely to be single. We hypothesized the existence of a rejection mind-set: The continued access to virtually unlimited potential partners makes people more pessimistic and rejecting. Across three studies, participants immediately started to reject more hypothetical and actual partners when dating online, cumulating on average in a decrease of 27% in chance on acceptance from the first to the last partner option. This was explained by an overall decline in satisfaction with pictures and perceived dating success. For women, the rejection mind-set also resulted in a decreasing likelihood of having romantic matches. Our findings suggest that people gradually “close off” from mating opportunities when online dating.

Singles of both sexes expedite reproduction: Shifts in sexual-timing strategies before and after the typical age of female menopause
Samantha Cohen et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

How do singles' strategies for engaging in sexual activity with a new partner vary across the adult lifespan? Using three large and independent demographically representative cross-sectional samples of heterosexual single adults in the U.S., we found that females approaching the typical age of menopause became less likely to establish relationship exclusivity prior to sexual activity with a new partner. However, after the typical age of menopausal onset, females returned to earlier levels of commitment choosiness. These changes in commitment choosiness surrounding the age of menopause were consistent across two studies (including a larger dataset combining two samples). Findings suggest that single females approaching menopause—a major life history milestone—alter their behavior to achieve reproductively relevant partnering goals but abandon this mating strategy once the typical reproductive period has ended. Males exhibited similar, though attenuated, changes in expected relationship commitment before sexual activity during midlife as well. Age-related changes in commitment corresponded with the amount of stress expressed regarding one's “biological clock”. However, reduced commitment choosiness did not vary with frequency of sexual thoughts, frequency of sexual behaviors, or external pressures to find a romantic partner. Results are discussed in terms of life history theory and sex differences in sexuality.

The Coming Divorce Decline
Philip Cohen
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, August 2019

This article analyzes U.S. divorce trends over the past decade and considers their implications for future divorce rates. Modeling women’s odds of divorce from 2008 to 2017 using marital events data from the American Community Survey, I find falling divorce rates with or without adjustment for demographic covariates. Age-specific divorce rates show that the trend is driven by younger women, which is consistent with longer term trends showing uniquely high divorce rates among people born in the Baby Boom period. Finally, I analyze the characteristics of newly married women and estimate the trend in their likelihood of divorcing based on the divorce models. The results show falling divorce risks for more recent marriages. The accumulated evidence thus points toward continued decline in divorce rates. The United States is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer and more stable than it was in the past.

Sexual Precedent’s Effect on Sexual Consent Communication
Malachi Willis & Kristen Jozkowski
Archives of Sexual Behavior, August 2019, Pages 1723–1734

Sexual consent is one’s voluntary, sober, and conscious willingness to engage in a particular sexual behavior with a particular person within a particular context. Sexual precedent theory posits that people believe that engaging in consensual sex at one point in time implies consent to later sexual encounters with that person. By assuming consent once a sexual precedent is set, people may rely less on communication cues. We sought to provide quantitative support for the claim that sexual precedent influences sexual consent in people’s sexual relationships. To capture variability across sexual experiences, we collected daily sexual behavior data from each participant (n = 84) over a period of 30 days. We found a curvilinear relationship between sexual history with a partner and how people perceived consent during sexual activity with that partner (p = .003, ∆R2 = .089). A piecewise regression revealed that participants were less likely to report consent communication cues as sexual precedent increased until about 575 previous sexual behaviors (p = .003, R2 = .122); after this point, participants were more likely to report consent communication cues as sexual precedent increased (p = .028, R2 = .179). Overall, we provide the first quantitative evidence that consent conceptualization varies both within the person and across relationships regarding sexual precedent. In our discussion, we emphasize that sexual consent is contextual and cannot be assumed even after previous sexual encounters.

Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior
Andrea Ganna et al.
Science, 30 August 2019

Twin and family studies have shown that same-sex sexual behavior is partly genetically influenced, but previous searches for specific genes involved have been underpowered. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 477,522 individuals, revealing five loci significantly associated with same-sex sexual behavior. In aggregate, all tested genetic variants accounted for 8 to 25% of variation in same-sex sexual behavior, only partially overlapped between males and females, and do not allow meaningful prediction of an individual’s sexual behavior. Comparing these GWAS results with those for the proportion of same-sex to total number of sexual partners among nonheterosexuals suggests that there is no single continuum from opposite-sex to same-sex sexual behavior. Overall, our findings provide insights into the genetics underlying same-sex sexual behavior and underscore the complexity of sexuality.

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