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When women earn more, promiscuity is more accepted, reveals new study


A new study from a team at Brunel University, London, shows that in social environments where women are less economically dependent on men, people are more accepting of promiscuity.

Entitled “Female Economic Dependence and the Morality of Promiscuity”, the study was conducted by a team of psychologists comprising Senior Lecturer Dr Nicholas Pound, Lecturer Dr Isabel Scott, and led by Deputy Head of Psychology Dr Michael Price.

The team found that in U.S. states where women earn more money and are perceived as being less economically dependent, attitudes towards promiscuity are more relaxed. They also found that people who know more economically-dependent women tend to be more opposed to promiscuity.

These relationships between anti-promiscuity morality and female economic dependence persisted, even after controlling for other influences on sexual morality such as religion and conservatism. Moreover, attitudes towards promiscuity were specifically related to female income, rather than male income.

Lead researcher Dr Price says the findings have important implications for how people in different cultures judge the sexual behavior of others. “In regions where women earn less, people may be more hostile towards practices such as open marriage, and more likely to think that promiscuous people deserve any hardships that befall them.” 

Dr Price explains the results in terms of evolutionary psychology. “When women and children depend more on men, it becomes more important for people to know who a child’s father is, and promiscuity makes this harder to know”.  

The study draws on U.S. economic and census data, and also surveyed over 5,000 people about their views on promiscuity and the extent to which they knew women who depend financially on men.

“Female Economic Dependence and the Morality of Promiscuity” is published today (26 June) in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.


For more information about the journal, please view the Archives of Sexual Behavior website.