It has been ingrained in us since the moment we exited the womb, men look for sex and find love and women look for love and find sex. Like the story of every romantic comedy or romance novel ever written, women are the emotional romantic saps whereas men are the testosterone-filled sex fiends.
However, in a recent study I conducted at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), it appears as though men may be just as hard-wired for romance as women (click here to read about my study in the paper).
My study assessed implicit attitudes toward sex and romance among 182 UNB students – 68 men and 114 women. Implicit attitudes are attitudes that exist just below awareness. They are the attitudes that people hold that they are not necessarily aware of. In order to capture these attitudes, the participants administered a computer test called the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT is designed to measure reaction speed in order to assess implicit attitudes. In doing so, participants were instructed to categorize both sexual (pornographic) and romantic (e.g., couple strolling along a beach, a picnic, or a romantic dinner) images to pleasant and unpleasant categories.
The quicker the sexual and romantic images were paired to a particular category the stronger the association between the two. For example, if a participant can more quickly categorize sexual with pleasant and romantic with unpleasant, it can be posited he/she has an automatic preference for sexual over romantic images.
Contrary to what many of you may assume, my research indicated that BOTH men and women shared an implicit preference for romance over sex. Meaning that men and women automatically associated the romantic images to the pleasant category quicker than they did the sexual images. It is important to note, that we DID find a gender difference. In particular, we found that women preferred romantic images more so than did men, however, the surprising result still is that they BOTH preferred romance over sex!
Although my results may have come as quite a shock to you, it is not completely unheard of in the research world. In fact, several studies have indicated that men may be just as romantic as women if not MORE. Specifically, the latest findings by psychologist Marissa Harrison (2011), from Pennsylvania State University in the US, determined that men fall in love quicker and take longer to fall out of love when compared to women. In fact, it was found that men were three times more likely to declare their love before women when involved in a heterosexual relationship.
So, the next time you are deciding what movie to catch on a first date, a romantic comedy may be just as appealing to your man as it is to you!
Ashley Thompson is a PhD student at the University of New Brunswick in experimental and applied psychology with research interests in sexuality and attraction. Ashley completed her undergraduate degree at University of Wisconsin at River Falls in psychology. She is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and has moved to Canada for her graduate pursuits. Find out more at Turned-On.net.