College-aged men are very likely to remember a woman's initial sexual interest, especially when the woman in question is thought to be attractive, is dressed more provocatively, and expresses positive sexual interest, a new study has said.
Men who were shown full-body photographs of college-aged women who expressed cues of sexual interest or rejection, represented mixed sexual histories, and a capacity for varying degrees of sexually aggressive behaviour.
Throughout the study they were presented with previously viewed photos and new photos of the same women in which they communicated the opposite cue (e.g., rejection instead of sexual interest).
On an average, every man showed excellent memory for whether women initially displayed sexual interest or rejection, especially when she initially expressed positive sexual interest, was dressed more provocatively, and was thought to be attractive.
Lead author Teresa Treat observes, "Misremembering a woman's level of sexual interest could prompt some men to make an unwanted sexual advance and become frustrated when a woman doesn't respond as anticipated."
"Conversely, college-aged men who report more frequent serious romantic relationships with women show better memory for college-aged women's sexual-interest and rejection cues. This suggests that tracking and remembering a partner's emotions may play a role in the initiation and maintenance of a serious romantic relationship," she added.
The long-term significance of the findings will depend on whether the memory of sexual interest impacts the male's subsequent behaviour, experiences, and social decisions when cues of sexual interest are presented in a more lifelike manner.
However, numerous factors other than memory for a partner's emotions play a central role in developing both positive and negative sexual experiences among young adults.
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