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Hetero sexual double standards SDS entail that different sexual behaviors are appropriate for men and women. Databases were searched for studies examining attitudes or stereotypes regarding the sexual behaviors of men versus women.
For men, frequent sexual activity was more expected, and evaluated more positively, than for women. Effects were moderated by level of gender equality in the country in which the study was conducted, SDS-operationalization attitudes vs.
are consistent with a hybrid model incorporating both evolutionary and sociocultural factors contributing to SDS. For example, women are penalized more than men for self-promoting behavior Rudman, and for speaking in a direct and dominant manner Carli et al. In addition, compared with women, men are penalized for passiveness Costrich et al.
The present analysis focuses on hetero sexual double standards SDSin which different sexual behaviors are expected of, and valued for, men and women Emmerink, Vanwesenbeeck, et al. Moreover, traditionally men are granted more sexual freedom than women. As a consequence, men and women can be treated differently for the same sexual behaviors.
Furthermore, traditional SDS have been associated with gender differences in sexual coercion and violence Shen et al. SDS have also been associated with gender differences in sexual risk behavior, specifically with more sexual partners for men, and more reluctance to request or insist on condom use for women Lefkowitz et al.
This undertaking necessitates probing whether the conclusions about its existence depend on the sexual behavior type assessed, or on how SDS are measured or conceptualized.
Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis to examine whether SDS are present in society and which measures and conceptualizations yield evidence for the existence of SDS, and which do not. In our work, we draw on several distinct yet sometimes overlapping theoretical frameworks to make predictions about the existence and moderators of SDS. Our goal was to provide a broad theoretical overview of the conditions under which SDS would be present. Second, we use the theoretical framework of male and female control theory, which builds on premises of evolutionary and biosocial theory, to make predictions about gender differences in SDS.
Third, we employ the gender-intensification hypothesis, which is similar to biosocial theory in its focus on gender roles, to predict age differences in SDS. The specific predictions we derived from each perspective are primarily based on our interpretation of the theories. The original theorists did not necessarily specify these concrete predictions, but we believe that they logically follow from their core propositions.
Regarding parental investment, women biologically invest more in their children than men e. Due to the lower parental investment of men compared with women, there is a high degree of competition among males for female mates.
In addition, men benefit more than women from having frequent sex with multiple partners, as this increases the likelihood of passing their genes on to a next generation. These evolutionary processes are supposed to unconsciously influence how we view sexual behavior of others and ourselves.
These different roles emerged, among others, from biological differences between men and women, with men being physically stronger, and women investing more in childbearing and nursing. As such, this theory integrates evolutionary processes related to parental investment and sexual strategies, although the division of gender roles is viewed as the most proximal cause of gender differences.
Traditionally, the male role is characterized by competence, independence, assertiveness, power, and leadership, whereas the female role is characterized by submissiveness, kindness, consideration, helping, nurturing, and caring. People are expected to behave according to their gender roles and behavior that adheres to gender roles elicits positive evaluations, whereas behavior that violates gender roles elicits negative evaluations Gaunt, Applied to sexual behavior, the power difference in gender roles means that society expects men to be sexually agentic, that is, dominant, powerful, and assertive, and rewards men for such behaviors.
In contrast, society expects women to be sexually communal, that is, submissive, passive, and reactive in sexual relationships, and accordingly rewards women for such behaviors. This theoretical framework integrates both evolutionary and sociocultural i.
According to male control theory, SDS can be viewed as a male privilege that men want to keep in place. As such, SDS are part of a patriarchal system that is created by and for men, and suppresses women. Men are invested in patriarchy more than women, and therefore men might also be more supportive of SDS Rudman et al.
In addition, women are less accepting than men of social hierarchies that subordinate women Lee et al. As a consequence, SDS in which female sexuality is suppressed have advantages for women, because they can trade highly valued sexual favors for lower valued favors from men, such as economic provision, monogamous relationships, and parental investment.
Because male control theory proposes that SDS constitute a form of male privilege that men want to control and keep in place, we predicted that men would be more likely than women to hold traditional SDS. An important question is whether the existence of SDS is behavior specific.
research examined the existence of SDS in a myriad of sexual behaviors, ranging from premarital sex in committed relationships e. Even though evolutionary theory and biosocial theory have often been pitted against each other in the literature, there is accumulating evidence for hybrid models explaining gender differences in sexuality from the interplay between evolutionary predispositions and sociocultural pressures Lippa, For example, the relative power of evolutionary and biosocial theory to explain gender differences may vary depending on the behavior under consideration Cross et al.
For men engaging in these behaviors is likely to increase the success of passing genes on to the next generation, whereas for women refraining or postponing these behaviors is likely to be a more successful reproductive strategy because of their higher parental investment.
Therefore, based on evolutionary theory we expect SDS to be most prevalent for these specific behaviors and less for other sexual behaviors, such as premarital sex in committed relationships, or sexual coercion. In such a context, society affords sexual agency more to men than to women.
In such studies, participants evaluate a perpetrator e. Yet, an alternative hypothesis is also possible on the basis of the societal norm that men need to protect women, because women are more vulnerable.
It has been argued that the traditional male gender role therefore also encompasses chivalry norms Eagly, Therefore, people might penalize male perpetrators more than female perpetrators. This expectation is consistent with research on violence in general, showing that people evaluated violence from a man to a woman more negatively than violence from a woman to a man e. Evolutionary theories, and specifically the perspective of obligate sex differences i. If these double standards evolved from adaptive gender differences in reproductive strategies, they would be universal and should be visible in all countries Schmitt, However, according to the emergently moderated perspective cross-cultural variation in sex differences is the result of moderating factors in the local ecology, like religion and gender equality.
Level of gender equality is particularly relevant in the context of SDS. Yet, the emergently moderated perspective does not yield a testable hypothesis about whether increasing levels of gender equality would suppress or accentuate gender differences in the norms for sexual behavior. Therefore, we will only test the prediction from the obligate sex difference perspective.
To quantify cross-cultural differences in gender equality, two measures have been developed that assess the level of gender equality in countries across the world: the gender inequality index United Nations Development Program, and the global gender gap score World Economic Forum, Data from these measures showed that Scandinavian and Western European countries generally have the smallest gender gap in the world and that North American countries have a somewhat bigger gender gap.
Latin-American and Asian societies have intermediate levels of gender inequality.
The largest gender inequality can be found in Middle East and North African societies. Biosocial theory would predict that lower gender equality scores of countries on these measures are associated with more traditional SDS. Regarding changes over time, evolutionary theory would not predict changes in SDS over the last 60 years, because evolutionary changes are generally slow. However, biosocial theory would predict that SDS would be less traditional in recent studies compared with older studies.
Neither evolutionary theory nor biosocial theory makes direct predictions with regard to age differences in the existence of SDS. Therefore, we expected SDS to be more prevalent in adolescent samples than in adult samples. Reiss conducted the first systematic study of SDS in the s, indicating that more sexual permissiveness was granted to men than to women. Since then, dozens of studies have been published on SDS, albeit with inconsistent .
Several studies did not find clear evidence of SDS e. Some recent studies even found evidence for a reversed double standard e. Crawford and Popp concluded that traditional double standards for some sexual behaviors still exist, for example, for initiating sex, casual sex, sex at an early age, and having many sexual partners, but that for other sexual behaviors a double standard is no longer present, for example, for sex before marriage.
Similar to Crawford and PoppBordini and Sperb concluded that premarital sex and casual sex are accepted for both men and women in Western cultures, whereas a double standard still exists for other sexual behaviors, such as being highly sexually active or having a high of sexual partners. From these reviews, we can conclude that the following moderators appear to play a role in the existence of SDS: sexual behavior type, gender, and cultural background. These meta-analyses also assessed a gender difference in SDS attitudes, but did not report the overall existence of SDS across men and women.
Both meta-analyses each only included seven studies about the SDS, which might be because the search terms were not specific enough for SDS. Moreover, a small of included studies assessing SDS precluded robust examination of moderators.
Finally, recently Zaikman and Marks conducted a theory-based narrative review on SDS, describing evidence for hypotheses based on evolutionary theory, biosocial theory, and cognitive social learning theory. This hypothesis could not be studied in the current meta-analysis, because too few studies examined SDS in sexual behaviors that cannot lead to reproduction, such as petting or kissing.
Second, they presented evidence for the prediction of biosocial theory that SDS are more evident when there are power differences between men and women.
Third, they identified evidence for SDS being more prevalent in cultures characterized by higher levels of gender inequality and for SDS becoming more egalitarian over time. These findings were in line with biosocial theory, but not with evolutionary theory. Regarding predictions of cognitive social learning theory, they identified evidence for the role of traditional gender-role socialization and a high level of sexual experience in the existence of SDS.
Inconsistencies in research on SDS could be due to differences in conceptualization, measurement, and study de. Yet, research using this conceptualization has provided inconsistent evidence of SDS. Using this reconceptualization, they found that most people still believe SDS exist at a societal level, but on a personal level most people held egalitarian standards. The distinction between personal attitudes and more generally shared social expectations is similar to the common distinction in social psychology between knowledge of cultural stereotypes i.
Although, as explained below, we were not able to distinguish between personal stereotypical beliefs and knowledge of cultural stereotypes in our analysis, we nonetheless expected that the broad distinction between attitudes and stereotypes might be important.
Consider, for example, that findings indicate that in children, as well as adults, content of gender stereotypes has not changed over time, whereas gender attitudes have become more egalitarian Ruble, ; orella et al. Thus, studies conceptualizing SDS in terms of stereotypes e.
Explicit cognitions are overtly expressed ideas that are under conscious control and, therefore, are especially prone to social-desirable responding Greenwald et al. Self-report questionnaires of stereotypes and attitudes tap into explicit cognitions.