Sex & choice

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Steve points out that Geoffrey Miller has a new book that’s going to come out soon, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior. More directly related to the topic of sex and decision-making, The Heat of the Moment: The Effect of Sexual Arousal on Sexual Decision Making. Read the whole paper, but I have a figure from it below….



  1. Taking a woman to a fancy restaurant is or telling you you love her immoral date-rape behavior now? I looked at the paper, too, and these guys do seem to seriously and repeatedly refer to it as “morally questionable behavior”, so it’s not just an awkward label on the table. 
    If telling a girl you love her is morally questionable, these guys must have a pretty high standard of morality. Or something.

  2. the research subjects were berkeley students. you need to use their norms as reference. additionally, do note that this research project had to go through a cordon of vetting for sensitivity (lead author talks about it in his book ‘predictably irrational’).

  3. I’m reminded of Heather Mac Donald’s article on the campus rape industry ( – I guess those are the moral norms they are working under… Still, it seems utterly absurd to a guy my age, especially when just looking at the table you posted. 
    I rarely take girls to nice restaurants because I don’t want them to think I’m too nice. It’s difficult to imagine someone else avoiding the same thing because “it’s morally wrong”.

  4. they know what they should say :-)

  5. It’s also interesting that extremely fat people are much less appealing than 12-year-olds and threesomes with men. Ouch.

  6. Martin look at the question. Would you tell a woman you loved her to increase the chance she would have sex with you. 
    That’s different from ‘would you tell a woman you loved her because you love her’. It’s pretty reasonable to interpret the question they asked as is it ok to lie to someone so she’ll sleep with you. I don’t think lying your way into someone’s pants is rape, and it would be nearly impossible to make it illegal. But it is certainly immoral.

  7. The innocuous questions do seem to give you a scale to compare with the more interesting ones (especially the last couple). Though I’d like to understand how that 0-100 rating relates to the actual binary decision to, say, slip your date some kind of drug to get her to sleep with you. (That would require premeditation, so I’m not sure how to interpret this result anyway.)

  8. Seems like a position that was ripe for exploitation. 
    Women like being told “I love you” by the men they are interested in. It is a sign of committment, which women lust after. 
    So, males can use that to exploit women. 
    However, being exploitative is not nice, so … 
    Increasing the arms race might be: 
    “Show me the DNA test and I will tell you I love you!”

  9. Though I’d like to understand how that 0-100 rating relates to the actual binary decision to 
    0-100 are proportions that said “yes.” i believe they were the same students in the sample.

  10. The questions should perhaps also be seen as more shots fired by the campus rape industry.

  11. Would you have even believed a study that said that arousal didn’t lower norms, etc? What value this study adds over mere introspection would presumably come from the actual means, rather than the finding of a significant main effect, but it’s not clear to me how far those means would generalize beyond the subject population.

  12. Rob, I guess from my point of view taking women out on dates and talking to them has always had the express purpose of increasing the odds of having sex. These guys really do seem to think all dates are “date-rape” like as long as the goal is to get laid, even when there’s no deception involved. An interesting viewpoint… reminds me of the “all heterosexual sex is rape” thing.