Yep, you read that right. In a new study conducted by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that imbalanced gender ratios influenced students’ opinions on casually hooking up. 

“If your gender is in the majority, then you have to compete with a lot of rivals, and you can’t be as selective or choosy,” said Justin Moss, an adjunct psychology professor at Florida State University in a press release. This study was done on college students, but Moss believes that the underlying idea may also apply to different social contexts, such as workplaces and bars.

In the first of two experiments, heterosexual students of both sexes were given fake editorials about colleges in the area where more males or females were enrolled. They then participated in a survey that asked about their views towards casual hookups and their sexual history. 

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The results? When their gender was the minority on campus, both men and women expressed more conservative sexual roles, but women specifically showed less interest in casual hookups than men. In the opposite situation, where their gender was the majority, women had a more liberal stance on casual sex and men demonstrated a larger interest in long-term commitment.

The second study focused more on competitive nature, where men and women were told that they would be competing against a member of the same sex in a time-reaction task. The first group was shown a photo of their opponent, who was described as attractive and outgoing, and the second group was shown a less attractive person who was also less sociable.

Participants were ordered to hit a button when they heard a noise through their headphones. The losers were forced to listen to a loud and unpleasant sound, but if they won, they were able to choose the volume and duration of the noise that their opponent would hear.

The results showed that those assigned to a group whose gender was the majority tended to display more aggression towards attractive competitors, but exhibited less hostility against those they deemed unattractive. As for those in favorable gender ratios, they showed less aggression overall, perhaps because they didn’t feel as threatened.

“If a woman goes to a bar and notices a lot more women and thinks she has to compete, maybe she can consciously alter the course of her actions or leave and go to a different bar,” Moss said. It makes sense—you wouldn’t stay at a bar with mostly dudes if you were looking to take someone home, right?

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