A man's attachment style -a personality trait reflecting his romantic relationship tendencies- may actually influence his perceptions of whether a woman is interested in him sexually, suggests a new study.
The findings showed that men on the higher end of the attachment anxiety spectrum were most likely to imagine a woman being sexually interested in them. "This is due in part to the men's strong desire for intimacy," said Joshua Hart, psychology professor at Union College in New York.
‘Men higher in the attachment anxiety spectrum, project their own flirtatiousness and sexual interest onto the woman, based on their hopes that she will reciprocate.’
Researchers asked nearly 500 men to imagine a scenario in which an attractive woman at a nightclub catches their eye. The woman notices she is being stared at and smiles back. Participants were asked to gauge the level of interest they believed the woman in the scenario was showing, ranging from "not at all interested" to "extremely interested."
The men were also asked to assess the extent to which they exhibited either of two tendencies-toward attachment anxiety and toward attachment avoidance. Those higher in attachment anxiety have a need for love and reassurance and a fear of rejection. People higher in attachment avoidance typically are reluctant to trust and rely on others, and fear intimacy.
The study found that men on the higher end of the attachment anxiety spectrum were most likely to imagine a woman being sexually interested in them. The study's results are an example of how wishful thinking pervades human social interactions.