During the study, they showed a picture of a moderately attractive man or woman to participants.
Half of the participants were told that the prospective mate was single, while the rest were told that they were not.
Researchers Dr Melissa Burkley and Jessica Parker observed that 90 per cent of the women participants were interested in a man when told that he was in a relationship, compared to 59 per cent when told the same man was single.
"This finding indicates that single women are considerably more interested in pursuing a man who is less available to them," the Telegraph quoted them as concluding.
"This may be because a man who is attached has already shown his ability to commit and, in a sense, has been pre-screened by another woman," they added.
The researchers also noted that men, on the other hand, expressed no preference about whether a woman was in a relationship or not.
"The results showed that only single women were more interested in pursuing an attached target rather than a single target," they said.
A research article describing the study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.