In past studies, researchers have persistently stumbled upon the common misperception of sexual interest in which single men tend to over-estimate the interest of single women toward them, while women tend to under-estimate the sexual interest of men.
In a study, released online in the journal Psychological Science, a research team at the University of Stirling challenged the mainstream conception that sex differences in misperceptions of sexual interest are the result of evolved adaptions.
The team at Stirling studied over 500 male and 600 female adult students as part of a number of speed-dating experiments. Among the participants, all were classified as heterosexual and instructed to rate their own physical attractiveness.
Upon the completion of each date, the sexual interest, if any, was measured by each partner, in addition to any perceptions of their date’s sexual interest toward them. Thereafter, a questionnaire was administered to assess the willingness of uncommitted sex among the participants.
“Consistent with previous findings, results showed that men tended to overperceive sexual interest from their partners, whereas women tended to underperceive sexual interest,” according to the findings.
“However, this sex difference became negligible when we considered potential mediators, such as the raters’ sociosexual orientation and raters’ tendency to project their own levels of sexual interest onto their partners.”
“These findings challenge the popular notion that sex differences in misperceptions of sexual interest have evolved as a specialized adaptation to different selection pressures in men and women,” researchers concluded in the findings.