Biased Sex Ratios Influence Fundamental Aspects of Human Mating

Justin H. Moss*, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The operational sex ratio—the ratio of men to women in a given population—affects a range of social processes. The current research demonstrates that biased sex ratios (greater numbers of one sex than the other) influence fundamental aspects of people’s mating strategy. When the sex ratio was favorable (one’s own sex was in the minority), both sexes adopted strong sex-typical sociosexual orientations (relatively restricted for women; relatively unrestricted for men). When the sex ratio was unfavorable (one’s own sex was in the majority), both sexes shifted toward the orientation typically favored by the other sex: Women became more unrestricted and men became more restricted (Experiment 1). When the sex ratio was unfavorable (relative to favorable), participants also displayed greater aggression toward a romantically desirable (but not undesirable) same-sex partner (Experiment 2). Exploratory analyses suggested that the sex ratio effect was present for unprovoked aggression but not provoked aggression (given the exploratory nature of that analysis, the aggression effect should be considered with some caution). Findings suggest that people’s mating strategies are adaptively calibrated to contingencies within the local mating ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • evolutionary psychology
  • intrasexual aggression
  • sex ratio
  • sociosexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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