It might seem like common sense that if you don’t want a baby or an STD, you use protection. But according to a new study, one seemingly irrelevant factor plays into whether or not a guy wants to wear a condom: how much he’s into his partner.
A group of researchers that the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol surveyed 51 heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 69. The researchers showed them pictures of 20 different women and asked them to rate their attractiveness on a scale of zero to 100. They were also asked the likelihood of whether they’d sleep with each woman if they were single, the chances of them using a condom during this hypothetical sex, how many other men (out of 100) they believed would also have condomless sex with each woman, and the chances of each woman already carrying an STD.
While the study was small and relied on a survey, the results were surprising. In an email to the Washington Post, the lead author of the study Anastasia Eleftheriou wrote that “Men are more willing to have condomless sex with attractive women … even though they might believe that those women are more likely” to have an STD. On the flip side, men reported they’d be more likely to use a condom with a less attractive woman.
What could account for this insane-sounding gap in thinking? The study’s co-author, Roger Ingham, told the Washington Post that he believes there are two possible explanations: Evolutionarily, “men want to reproduce with women they find to be more attractive.” More interestingly, he believes that young men might consider sleeping with attractive women a marker of status, ‘and so are willing to take more risk to acquire this status.'”
This study should be taken with a grain of salt, considering they surveyed only 51 men. The authors of the study also emphasized to the Washington Post that “the survey was taken in the presence of a female researcher, which previous studies have shown to affect male responses.”
Still, Eleftheriou and Ingham hope to use the data they collected to help create a better sex education curriculum. Which, good, because from the sounds of this, it’s desperately needed.