Research comparing regions in China with varied sex ratios has demonstrated that when available female partners are relatively more abundant, men are less likely to engage commercial sex workers, although they are likely to engage in more and more frequent sexual encounters outside of marriage; avoiding partnering that includes an explicit financial cost constitutes greater selectivity.
Other research indicates that when available female partners are relatively scarce, men are more likely to marry young, presumably motivated to secure an available partner against relatively less certain future mating opportunities; men are less likely to avoid partners who insist on marriage, indicating relatively lower selectivity. This also results in women marrying younger in populations characterized by sex ratios that skew male.
Although such studies document important and clear patterns, experimental exploration may provide added insight. Recent research, for example, examined women’s preferences for facial symmetry in men after viewing images of crowds in which sex ratios varied, revealing that women became more selective in their preferences when they perceived an abundance of men.
The present study seeks to extend experimental exploration of the impact of sex ratios in two ways: first, it examines the impact on men, and second, it examines the effects of sex ratios in media narratives rather than either real populations or still images.