The Big Questions

Life, death and free will.

Some Like it Casual

Sexual Openness and Father Involvement

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Recent research by Danielle DelPriore and Sarah Hill at Texas Christian University tested the role of father involvement in college age women's willingness to engage in sex with or without a committed partner.

In Study 1, participants were assigned (unknown to them) to write about either a time when their father was present, or a time when their father was absent. The women who were assigned to write about a time their father was absent reported greater interest in sex without commitment.

Study 2 had the same procedure, but this time they also asked participants how soon they would like to start a family. For women who would like to start a family soon, thinking about a time when their father was absent (compared to a time he was present) increased their interest in casual sex.

These studies are consistent with research showing that when fathers are present, teenage and college age women are likely to have fewer sex partners. It expands those studies, however, by suggesting that father absence causes women to have a heightened desire for uncommited sex - especially when they want to have a child.

Nathan Heflick completed his Ph.D. in social psychology at The University of South Florida.

more...

Subscribe to The Big Questions

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.