Journalist Daniel Bergner explains in this video, 99% of What We Believe About Female Sexuality is Nonsense, that there is a common misconception about the sexuality of the genders:

the idea that while men are genetically programmed to spread their limitless seed and be promiscuous that women by contrast are genetically programmed, evolutionary scripted to seek out one good man, seek out one good provider, seek out closeness and constancy and so that at least relatively speaking by this theory women are somewhat better suited to monogamy, have a sex drive that’s a bit less raw, a bit less animalistic than male libido.

He argues against this proposition, by referring to a study where women's stated subjective sexual responses to erotic scenarios didn't match the objective measurement of blood flow to their genitals - in particular, they were more aroused by the idea of sex with strangers over sex with close friends than they admitted.

By itself, this isn't sufficient to overthrow the more common understanding.

Is there evidence that men are/are not genetically programmed to seek multiple sexual partners more so than women?

  • I fixed the title, however it would be better to focus the question on a single claim.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 1:14
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    No pseudo-answers in the comments, please. If you have an answer, use the answer box, where they can be properly assessed.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 5:11
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    "The popular theory is". [Citation Needed] " men are more likely want more than a woman" [Citation Needed]. "men tend more to polygamy. This story is very popular (at least I hear it a lot!)." Not a notable claim. And so on throughout the post. Do you have any substantial and notable claim for us to examine other than blatant gender stereotyping?
    – user32299
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 20:21
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    What does "more tuned to" mean? And in any case: what would the cause of that alleged "tuning" be? Social pressure, genetic disposition, or a mix? Maybe women by evolution are more prone to break monogamy than men but social conventions have forced them to act against their nature? But this is impossible to tell, and popular opinion on the subject is an entirely useless tool when it comes to determining that. All in all: this question is unanswerable.
    – user32299
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 20:27
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    The video offers nothing that enables a objective comparison to women's "suitability" for monogamy vs men's. It just reports on one measure of female sexual arousal, with no similar measure for male sexual arousal, and it does nothing to relate that to "suitability" for monogamy (which certainly involves other factors besides sexual arousal). There is no "notable claim", at least not one that is in any way coherent. Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


The quote in the original question seems like a misappropriation of Bateman's principle. Bateman asserted that females in general (regardless of species) will be more selective of mate quality than males. This doesn't exactly mean that they are more monogamous, just that they are more "choosy".

As the Wikipedia article on this topic explains at length, the evidence for Bateman's principle is mixed at best. And it's worth nothing that Bateman's own research focused on fruit flies, not humans. But here is an interesting cross-cultural study of human populations which concludes:

Men not only posses a greater desire than women do for a variety of sexual partners, men also require less time to elapse than women do before consenting to sexual intercourse, and men tend to more actively seek short-term mateships than women do.

(David Schmitt, "Universal sex differences in the desire for sexual variety: Test from 52 nations, 6 continents, and 13 islands", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003)

I'm not sure if these findings have been replicated by other studies, but they do support Bateman's principle as applied to humans.


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