chapter  4
26 Pages

Sociosexuality and Romantic Relationships

ByJeffry A. Simpson, Carol L. Wilson, Heike A. Winterheld

In this chapter, we review and critique extant theory and research on sociosexuality and romantic relationships. We begin by recounting the origins of sociosexuality, focusing first on earliest descriptive research and then on the development of the sociosexuality construct and inventory (Gangestad & Simpson, 1990; Simpson & Gangestad, 1991). Following this, we review three sets of theoretical models-lifehistory models, Sexual Strategies Theory, and a model of strategic pluralism-that might explain the large amount of within-sex variation that exists on most sociosexual attitudes and behaviors. We then review and attempt to integrate nearly all of the published and several unpublished empirical investigations of sociosexuality. This empirical review is divided into two major sections: (1) patterns of relations between sociosexuality and other individual difference measures (e.g., personality traits, attachment styles, gender roles), and (2) patterns of relations between sociosexuality and mating proclivities (e.g., mating motives, romantic partner preferences, relationship initiation styles, patterns of romantic interaction, early family history, and crosscultural differences). We conclude by discussing several important future directions and implications of sociosexuality. These include the possible biological/evolutionary origins of sociosexuality, the different motives that might generate restricted versus unrestricted sociosexual orientations, the cues that may signal or convey restricted versus unrestricted orientations in each gender, and the effects that restricted versus unrestricted sociosexual orientations might have on the functioning and well-being of established romantic relationships.