The Evolution of Human Mating: David Puts at TEDxPSU (Transcript)

That’s why I’m talking about it, I hope you do too. And women’s mate preferences similarly change over the cycle so that they prefer more dominant, more masculine males during the fertile part of the cycle. These are results of a study that I conducted on women’s preferences for men’s voices.

And I used computer software to manipulate recordings of men’s voices to make them sound either more masculine or more dominant, or more subordinate, more feminine. And I had women rate them on how attractive would this man be for a short-term, purely sexual relationship, and for a long-term committed relationship?

And I also got information about where women were in their cycles. Were they in the fertile or non-fertile part of the cycle? These were all women not taking hormonal contraception.

And what I found was that women preferred a more masculine, dominant-sounding voice, specifically in the fertile point of the cycle, and only for a sexual relationship versus a long-term committed relationship.

Now, this sounds like science fiction, but it’s science, fact. Because this result has been shown lots of times across a variety of domains from women’s preferences for men’s voices, that this result was replicated by another lab. Women’s preferences for men’s faces, bodies, odors, and even behavior.

Well, I said that we would get to orgasm. And we’re there. I just want to start by saying I’m for it. I’m pro-orgasm. I think more people should have more orgasms.

But from a scientific perspective, women’s orgasm is especially fascinating because there’s evidence indicating that it increases the probability that conception will result from an act of sex. There’s evidence that it brings sperm up through the female reproductive tract and toward the egg.

And think about what the implications here could be. If women were more likely to have orgasms with some men than others, then this could be a mechanism by which they choose, not consciously, to be fertilized by some males and not others. And wouldn’t you predict that women would be more likely to have orgasms with males of high genetic quality?

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And in fact, a study by my lab published just a couple of years ago found that women reported more orgasms, earlier timed orgasms, that is, they were easier to achieve, they achieved them more quickly, when they were having sex when their mate was more masculine and more dominant.

And what’s interesting is that this was true only for their orgasms from sexual intercourse, but not from other partnered sexual behaviors. I’ll let you use your imagination what those might be.

So we’ve seen that thinking like an evolutionist can enable us to predict things about ourselves that we did not already know, and would not likely have guessed for a long time.

We didn’t know that women’s mate preferences changed over the cycle. Until evolutionary thinking led us to that discovery. So that’s one point that I want to make.

But we’ve also seen how evolutionary thinking can clarify and unite diverse parts of the human experience, and help us understand the best and the worst of ourselves, from violence and aggression and infidelity to men’s care for their children, sexual attraction, sexual pleasure, and even the strength and fragility of romantic love.

Thank you.


Resources for Further Reading:

Full Transcript: Esther Perel on Modern Love and Relationships at SXSW 2018

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Love: Katie Hood (Transcript)

The Uncomplicated Truth About Women’s Sexuality: Sarah Barmak (Transcript)

Laurie Betito on The Pleasure Principle: The Secret to a Better Sex Life at TEDxMontrealWomen (Transcript)


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