Title

Age-Related Patterns in Sexual Behaviors and Attitudes Among Single US Adults: An Evolutionary Approach

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2019

Publication Title

Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences

Volume

13

Issue

2

First page number:

111

Last page number:

126

Abstract

While a large body of research has sought to understand human longevity and caregiving (e.g., the grandmother hypothesis) from an evolutionary life history perspective, this same view has rarely been brought to bear on age-related changes in human sexuality. Moreover, much of the existing research on age-related patterns in human sexual behaviors and attitudes features samples of predominantly partnered individuals. Here, we test hypotheses concerning age- and sex-related differences in measures of sexuality among 1,522 single adults 21 years of age and older from throughout the United States. Consistent with expectations, we document age-related decreases in sexual behavior, ideal frequency of sexual behavior, perceived changes in sexual desire, and openness to an array of sexual behaviors (e.g., having sex with multiple partners), although sexual satisfaction increased with age in women but not men. Also consistent with expectations, men reported more frequent sexual behavior, ideal frequency of sexual behavior, greater perceived change in sexual motivation, and more openness to various sexual behaviors (e.g., a one-night stand) compared to women. Conversely, women reported higher sexual satisfaction and were more open to getting married than men. Interaction effects were also observed, including between age and sex on sexual satisfaction, with older women reporting relatively higher sexual satisfaction than older men. We place these findings in the wider body of research on human sexuality, contrasting this evolutionary life history approach with prevailing descriptive or biomedical foci on age-related sexual dysfunction.

Disciplines

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Evolution | Life Sciences

Language

English

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