Men who find their female sexual partners attractive are less likely to use condoms, according to a new study in BMJ Open. Apparently, the level of a woman's attractiveness impacts a man’s likelihood to practice safe sex.
“The primary purpose of the current study was better to understand the relationship between perceived attractiveness and condom use intentions in heterosexual men and to gain insights into the relationship between perceived attractiveness, demographics, sexual history and perceived sexual health status,” the authors write in the introduction.
The researchers found that, obviously, men who found women attractive had a greater desire to have sex with them. But while participants were more willing to have sex with attractive women, researchers found they were less inclined to use condoms when they do so. And men who considered themselves attractive also had a higher tendency to avoid condom use during sex.
Perhaps more interesting was their finding that men were still unlikely to wear condoms even when they thought the woman was at a higher risk of STDs. The researchers noted this was “surprising,” seeing as in past research, men have linked hot women with promiscuity and disease. Other studies, however, have contradicted these findings; one showed that men saw attractive women as less sexually risky when it came to STDs, assuming that they took care of themselves more than unattractive women. The diversity in findings may simply be a result of the fact that all men have differing opinions on the matter.
Only about 65 percent of men use condoms regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the fact that contraception has proven to be safe and effective. Condom bias, or people’s negative associations and attitudes about condoms, is often to blame: Individuals often feel that condoms are unpleasant and take away from the pleasure of sex (despite the fact that this myth has been proven wrong), or contribute to the loss of erection and other unwanted issues.
It’s interesting, then, that we now have some other psychological factors that go into condom avoidance — including the level of perceived attractiveness of a person. The researchers hope their study will inform people when making choices in their sexual life, particularly if they’re engaging in risky behavior with people they find attractive. They plan to continue researching the subject to develop interventions that can prevent condom bias, and instead help people be more aware of what motivates them in safe sex.
“Future research could also investigate whether individual differences in variables known to influence risk-taking, such as sexual sensation seeking and sexual excitation/inhibition, might mediate the relationship between attractiveness and condom use intentions,” they write.
Source: Eleftheriou A, Bullock S, Graham C, Stone N, Ingham R. Does attractiveness influence condom use intentions in heterosexual men? An experimental study. BMJ Open, 2016.