A small study published in the British Medical Journal Open showed that men are more willing to have condomless sex if their sexual partner is attractive.

On the other hand, the same study revealed that men were more likely to wear a condom if the women they were going to have sex with was considered unattractive.

Men condoms
A small study published in the British Medical Journal Open showed that men are more willing to have condomless sex if their sexual partner is attractive. Photo credit: Greatist.com

To wear or not to wear

The study was led by Anastasia Eleftheriou from the University of Southhampton. 51 heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 69 were surveyed. They were asked to rate on a scale from 0 to 20 the perceived level of attractiveness of different pictures of women faces. Then they were prompted to estimate how likely the women in the image had a sexually transmitted disease and how willing they were to have sex with the woman with or without a condom.

The surveyed subjects convened in a higher chance of wearing a condom if the woman was unattractive, if she was likely to have an STD, or if she had a “less satisfactory sex life,” a higher predicted number of sexual partners, and if she was younger. But all the results were opaqued by the sheer level of attractiveness, which was the primary factor in determining whether the man would use a condom or not.

The solution for possibly eliminating the bias was to discuss sex education and condom use publicly. But the researchers admitted that the research used a tiny sample of participants. It was also stressed that the intention of using a condom or not may not indicate the actual behavior of the subject.

Hotter means no rubber?

A previous study showed that a similar endeavor occurs in women. The brain activity of 12 single heterosexual women was measured as they were shown pictures of male faces. Their sexual preference was measured against the health risk related to STIs portrayed by the men in the photos. In contrast to men in the other study, the female participants displayed a higher preference for men they perceived to be of lower risk than those viewed as high-risk.

But a second study with the same female subjects showed that they preferred men with more masculine faces, which are in part riskier and more attractive than the same men with feminized features. Another study revealed that people who felt more attracted to a particular individual were less likely to consider the person as a health risk.

It was also suggested by the researchers that self-rated attractiveness may prove to be a factor in the intentions of using a condom. Since people tend to choose partners with similar facial features to themselves, there may be a need to perform a deeper study in the situation where a person has to choose whether to wear a condom or not.

This study tried to show a link between perceived attractiveness and the intention of using a condom for heterosexual males. There is still need to prove how demographics and sexual experience affect the decision of using a condom for men, as the sample group that participated in the study was arguably tiny.

Source: BMJ Open