On SAGE Insight: Sexual desire enables the forming of relationship-initiating behaviors

Article title: Fueled by desire – Sexual activation facilitates the enactment of relationship-initiating behaviors

From Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Evolutionary and attachment scholars have long theorized that sexual desire serves as a powerful motivational force that brings potential romantic partners together initially thereby helps to facilitate reproductive acts. Few studies have addressed the possibility that activation of the sexual system has systematic effects on the motivation to engage in nonsexual but relationship-promoting behaviors (e.g., self-disclosure, sacrificing for the partner).

This paper presents four studies that sought to provide direct evidence for the hypothesis that activation of the sexual system elicits not only sexual advances and approach tendencies but also specific nonsexual behaviors that foster relationship initiation. In Study 1, participants mimed together with an opposite-sex confederate to prerecorded music. Participant’s desire for the confederate was associated with coded immediacy behaviors toward the confederate (e.g., proximity seeking, synchronization). Study 2 extended these findings, showing that participants, who slow danced with a confederate perceived to be more desirable, were more synchronized with the confederate. Synchronization, in turn, was associated with greater interest in future interactions with the confederate. Studies 3 and 4 established a causal connection between sexual activation and engagement in relationship-promoting behaviors (provision of responsiveness and help, respectively).

Abstract

Sexual desire has long been theorized to serve a relationship-initiation function by bringing partners together. Four studies addressed this possibility, examining whether activation of the sexual system encouraged the enactment of nonsexual behaviors that signal warmth and contact readiness. In Study 1, participants mimed together with an opposite-sex confederate to prerecorded music. Participant’s desire for the confederate was associated with coded immediacy behaviors toward the confederate (e.g., proximity seeking, synchronization). Study 2 extended these findings, showing that participants, who slow danced with a confederate perceived to be more desirable, were more synchronized with the confederate. Synchronization, in turn, was associated with greater interest in future interactions with the confederate. Studies 3 and 4 established a causal connection between sexual activation and engagement in relationship-promoting behaviors (provision of responsiveness and help, respectively). These findings suggest that intense desire, which attracts new partners to each other, elicits behaviors that support the attachment-bonding process.

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Article details
Fueled by desireSexual activation facilitates the enactment of relationship-initiating behaviors
Gurit E. Birnbaum , Moran Mizrahi , Harry T. Reis,
First Published November 12, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0265407518811667
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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