Young adults considered both the risks and benefits of their sexual behavior in a highly consistent and thoughtful manner, stated a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.
"There is a tendency to view sexual decision making in young adults as a highly variable and somewhat random process, more influenced by hormones or impulsivity than rational processes," said lead author of the study Laura Hatz, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri in the US.
Young adults are consistent in their choices, balancing potential partners' level of attractiveness against the potential sexually transmitted infection risk.
Nearly all participants made consistently rational choices, as defined by established models of psychological behavior.
People used heuristic decision strategies, cognitive shortcuts that ignore some information to make choices in life.
Individuals identified as classic heuristic decision-makers for monetary-based choices became rational decision-makers when similar choices were framed as sexual choices.