Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Sci. 2016 Jun;27(6):836-47. doi: 10.1177/0956797616638650. Epub 2016 Apr 15.

Capturing the Interpersonal Implications of Evolved Preferences? Frequency of Sex Shapes Automatic, but Not Explicit, Partner Evaluations.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Florida State University
Department of Psychology, Florida State University.
Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee.


A strong predisposition to engage in sexual intercourse likely evolved in humans because sex is crucial to reproduction. Given that meeting interpersonal preferences tends to promote positive relationship evaluations, sex within a relationship should be positively associated with relationship satisfaction. Nevertheless, prior research has been inconclusive in demonstrating such a link, with longitudinal and experimental studies showing no association between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction. Crucially, though, all prior research has utilized explicit reports of satisfaction, which reflect deliberative processes that may override the more automatic implications of phylogenetically older evolved preferences. Accordingly, capturing the implications of sexual frequency for relationship evaluations may require implicit measurements that bypass deliberative reasoning. Consistent with this idea, one cross-sectional and one 3-year study of newlywed couples revealed a positive association between sexual frequency and automatic partner evaluations but not explicit satisfaction. These findings highlight the importance of automatic measurements to understanding interpersonal relationships.


automatic processes; evolved preferences; implicit attitudes; open materials; relationship satisfaction; sex

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center