The impact of social interaction on the sexual double standard

Michael J. Marks, R. Chris Fraley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely held that a sexual double standard exists such that women are evaluated more harshly than men for engaging in sexual activity. Previous research, however, has failed to document this sexual double standard reliably. We argue that previous research has been unable to identify the double standard because it has focused on the individual rather than the interpersonal dynamics that take place in social settings. The present experiment examines the hypothesis that group dynamics give rise to the sexual double standard. Participants, both individually and in small collaborative groups, evaluated a male or female target that had 1, 7, or 19 sex partners. A double standard did not emerge when individual participants evaluated targets. However, when collaborative groups of participants evaluated the targets, a double standard emerged in some domains. The results highlight the value of studying interpersonal processes in a group context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-54
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Influence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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