Cues of woman’s fertility predict prices for sex with prostitutes

Abstract

Prostitution is an exchange of sexual services for economic profit which predominantly reflects men’s desire for sexually attractive women. These preferences could be shaped by sexual selection, as a woman’s sexual attractiveness is believed to be a cue of fertility. Using data from Polish prostitutes, we investigated whether cues of fertility are associated with the price for sex. In line with evolutionary predictions, prostitute’s age and body mass index (BMI) were negatively correlated with the price for sex, while breast size (except for very large breasts) and number of sexual offerings were positively associated with the price for sex. This suggests that young, slim prostitutes with moderate breasts are more expensive than older, stockier, and those with very large breasts. We suggest that commercial sex exploits men’s evolved preferences for sexually attractive women who have high reproductive potential.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Apter, D. (1980). Serum steroids and pituitary hormones in female puberty: A partly longitudinal study. Clinical Endocrinology, 12, 107–120.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Arunachalam, R., & Shah, M. (2008). Prostitutes and brides? The American Economic Review, 98, 516–522.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bateman, A. J. (1948). Intra-sexual selection in drosophila. Heredity, 2, 349–368.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bates, D., & Maechler, M. (2010). Matrix: Sparse and dense matrix classes and methods. R package version 0.999375-43, URL http://cran.r-project.org/package=Matrix .

  5. Bullough, V., & Bullough, B. (1978). Prostitution: An illustrated social history. New York: Crown Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses testing in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Butovskaya, M., Sorokowska, A., Karwowski, M., Sabiniewicz, A., Fedenok, J., Dronova, D., Negasheva, M., Selivanova, E., & Sorokowski, P. (2017). Waist-to-hip ratio, body-mass index, age and number of children in seven traditional societies. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1622.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Clark, A. M., Thornley, B., Tomlinson, L., Galletley, C., & Norman, R. J. (1998). Weight loss in obese infertile women results in improvement in reproductive outcome for all forms of fertility treatment. Human Reproduction, 13, 1502–1505.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cloud, J. M., & Perilloux, C. (2014). Bodily attractiveness as a window to women’s fertility and reproductive value. In V. A. Weekes-Shackelford & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on human sexual psychology and behavior (pp. 135–152). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1991). The evolution of parental care. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Colmenares, F., Zaragoza, F., & Hernandez-Lloreda, M. V. (2002). Grooming and coercion in one-male units of hamadryas baboons: Market forces or relationship constraints. Behaviour, 139, 1525–1553.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Confer, J. C., Perilloux, C., & Buss, D. M. (2010). More than just a pretty face: Men's priority shifts toward bodily attractiveness in short-term versus long-term mating contexts. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 348–353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cross, J. F., & Cross, J. (1971). Age, sex, race, and the perception of facial beauty. Developmental Psychology, 5, 433–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cuckle, H. S., Wald, N. J., & Thompson, S. G. (1987). Estimating a woman's risk of having a pregnancy associated with Down's syndrome using her age and serum alpha-fetoprotein level. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 94, 387–402.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Currie, T. E., & Little, A. C. (2009). The relative importance of the face and body in judgments of human physical attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30, 409–416.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dale, R., Marshall-Pescini, S., & Range, F. (2017). Do females use their sexual status to gain resource access? Investigating food-for-sex in wolves and dogs. Current Zoology, 63, 323–330.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Deutsch, F. M., Zalenski, C. M., & Clark, M. E. (1986). Is there a double standard of aging? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 771–785.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Díaz-Morales, J. F., Jankowski, K. S., Prokop, P., Castellana, I., Linke, M., Rahafar, A., & Randler, C. (2018). Sleep timing is linked to sociosexuality: Evidence from German, polish, Slovak and Spanish females. Time and Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/0961463X18757390

  20. Dixson, B. J., Grimshaw, G. M., Linklater, W. L., & Dixson, A. F. (2011). Eye-tracking men's preferences for waist-to-hip ratio and breast size of women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 43–50.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Dixson, B. J., Duncan, M., & Dixson, A. F. (2015). The role of breast size and areolar pig mentation in perceptions of women's sexual attractiveness, reproductive health, sexual maturity, maternal nurturing abilities, and age. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 1685–1695.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Donovan, B. (2000). The repertoire of human efforts to avoid sexually transmissible diseases: Past and present. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 76, 88–93.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Dunson, D. B., Colombo, B., & Baird, D. D. (2002). Changes with age in the level and duration of fertility in the menstrual cycle. Human Reproduction, 17, 1399–1403.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Edwards, S., & Carne, C. (1998). Oral sex and the transmission of viral STIs. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 74, 6–10.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Eleftheriou, A., Bullock, S., Graham, C. A., Stone, N., & Ingham, R. (2016). Does attractiveness influence condom use intentions in heterosexual men? An experimental study. BMJ Open, 6, e010883.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Fox, J., & Weisberg, S. (2011). Multivariate linear models in R. An R companion to applied regression. Los Angeles: Thousand Oaks.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Frisch, M., Glimelius, B., van den Brule, A. J., Wohlfahrt, J., Meijer, C. J., Walboomers, J. M., Goldman, S., Svensson, C., Adami, H. O., & Melbye, M. (1997). Sexually transmitted infection as a cause of anal cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 337, 1350–1358.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Gertler, P., Shah, M., & Bertozzi, S. M. (2005). Risky business: The market for unprotected commercial sex. Journal of Political Economy, 113, 518–550.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Gomes, C. M., & Boesch, C. (2009). Wild chimpanzees exchange meat for sex on a long-term basis. PLoS One, 4, e5116.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Greeley, A. M. (2017). Religion in Europe at the end of the second millennium: A sociological profile. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Gumert, M. D. (2007). Payment for sex in a macaque mating market. Animal Behaviour, 74, 1655–1667.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hartung, J. (2012). Chastity, fidelity and conquest: Biblical rules for women in war. In T. K. Shackelford & V. A. Weekes-Shackelford (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of evolutionary perspectives on violence, homicide, and war (pp. 77–90). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Havlíček, J., Třebický, V., Valentova, J. V., Kleisner, K., Akoko, R. M., Fialová, J., ... & Varella, M. A. C. (2017). Men's preferences for women's breast size and shape in four cultures. Evolution and Human Behavior, 38, 217–226.

  34. Henss, R. (1991). Perceiving age and attractiveness in facial photographs. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, 933–946.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Herrero, R., Castellsagué, X., Pawlita, M., Lissowska, J., Kee, F., Balaram, P., et al. (2003). Human papillomavirus and oral cancer: The international agency for research on cancer multicenter study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 95, 1772–1783.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Ho, G. Y., Bierman, R., Beardsley, L., Chang, C. J., & Burk, R. D. (1998). Natural history of cervicovaginal papillomavirus infection in young women. New England Journal of Medicine, 338, 423–428.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Jasienska, G., Ziomkiewicz, A., Ellison, P. T., Lipson, S. F., & Thune, I. (2004). Large breasts and narrow waists indicate high reproductive potential in women. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 271, 1213–1217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Jonason, P. K., Raulston, T., & Rotolo, A. (2012). More than just a pretty face and a hot body: Multiple cues in mate choice. The Journal of Social Psychology, 152, 174–184.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Kenrick, D. T., & Keefe, R. C. (1992). Age preferences in mates reflect sex differences in human reproductive strategies. Behavioral Brain Sciiences, 15, 75–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Kim, Y. J., Lee, J. E., Kim, S. H., Shim, S. S., & Cha, D. H. (2013). Maternal age-specific rates of fetal chromosomal abnormalities in Korean pregnant women of advanced maternal age. Obstetrics & Gynecology Science, 56, 160–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Korthase, K. M., & Trenholme, I. (1982). Perceived age and perceived physical attractiveness. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 54, 1251–1258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Kurzban, R., & Weeden, J. (2005). HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26, 227–244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Lenth, R. V. (2016). Least-squares means: The R package lsmeans. Journal of Statistical Software, 69, 1–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Leridon, H. (1977). Human fertility: The basic components. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Lipson, S. F., & Ellison, P. T. (1996). Comparison of salivary steroid profiles in naturally occurring conception and non-conception cycles. Human Reproduction, 11, 2090–2096.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Maestripieri, D., Klimczuk, A. C., Traficonte, D. M., & Wilson, M. C. (2014). A greater decline in female facial attractiveness during middle age reflects women’s loss of reproductive value. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 179.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Mathes, E. W., Brennan, S. M., Haugen, P. M., & Rice, H. B. (1985). Ratings of physical attractiveness as a function of age. Journal of Social Psychology, 125, 157–168.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Mondragón-Ceballos, R., García Granados, M. D., Cerda-Molina, A. L., Chavira-Ramírez, R., & Hernández-López, L. E. (2015). Waist-to-hip ratio, but not body mass index, is associated with testosterone and estradiol concentrations in young women. International Journal of Endocrinology, 7, 1622.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Perilloux, C., Cloud, J. M., & Buss, D. M. (2013). Women’s physical attractiveness and short-term mating strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 490–495.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Pinborg, A., Gaarslev, C., Hougaard, C. O., Andersen, A. N., Andersen, P. K., Boivin, J., & Schmidt, L. (2011). Influence of female bodyweight on IVF outcome: A longitudinal multicentre cohort study of 487 infertile couples. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 23, 490–499.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Prokop, P. (2015). Perception of intensity of sperm competition on the part of males. Personality and Individual Differences, 76, 99–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. R Core Team (2016). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. 2014.

  53. Rao, V., Gupta, I., Lokshin, M., & Jana, S. (2003). Sex workers and the cost of safe sex: The compensating differential for condom use among Calcutta prostitutes. Journal of Development Economics, 71, 585–603.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Regnerus, M. D., Smith, C., & Smith, B. (2004). Social context in the development of adolescent religiosity. Applied Developmental Science, 8, 27–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Rinker, B., Veneracion, M., & Walsh, C. P. (2010). Breast ptosis: Causes and cure. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 64, 579–584.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. Sallmén, M., Sandler, D. P., Hoppin, J. A., Blair, A., & Baird, D. D. (2006). Reduced fertility among overweight and obese men. Epidemiology, 17, 520–523.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Schlicht, E., & Kempenaers, B. (2011). Extra-pair paternity and sexual selection. In M. Ioue-Murayama, S. Kawamura, & A. Weiss (Eds.), From genes to animal behavior (pp. 35–65). Japan: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Schmitt, D. P. (2014). Evaluating evidence of mate preference adaptations: How do we really know what Homo Sapiens Sapiens really want? In V. A. Weekes-Shackelford & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on human sexual psychology and behavior (pp. 3–39). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Schmitt, D. P., & Fuller, R. C. (2015). On the varieties of sexual experience: Cross-cultural links between religiosity and human mating strategies. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 7, 314–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Schwandt, M., Morris, C., Ferguson, A., Ngugi, E., & Moses, S. (2006). Anal and dry sex in commercial sex work, and relation to risk for sexually transmitted infections and HIV in Meru, Kenya. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 82, 392–396.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Sohn, K. (2016a). Men’s revealed preferences regarding women’s ages: Evidence from prostitution. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 272–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Sohn, K. (2016b). Men's revealed preferences regarding women's promiscuity. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 140–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Teuscher, U., & Teuscher, C. (2007). Reconsidering the double standard of aging: Effects of gender and sexual orientation on facial attractiveness ratings. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 631–639.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Tovée, M. J., Reinhardt, S., Emery, J. L., & Cornelissen, P. L. (1998). Optimum body-mass index and maximum sexual attractiveness. The Lancet, 352, 548.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Trivers, R. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection (Vol. 136, p. 179). Cambridge: Biological Laboratories, Harvard University.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Tryjanowski, P., & Hromada, M. (2005). Do males of the great grey shrike, Lanius Excubitor, trade food for extrapair copulations? Animal Behaviour, 69, 529–533.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Vahed, K. (1998). The function of nuptial feeding in insects: A review of empirical studies. Biological Reviews, 73, 43–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Van Noord-Zaadstra, B. M., Looman, C. W. N., Alsbach, H., Habbema, J. D. F., Te Velde, E. R., & Karbaat, J. (1991). Delaying childbearing: Effect of age on fecundity and outcome of pregnancy. British Medical Journal, 302, 1361–1365.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Venners, S. A., Liu, X., Perry, M. J., Korrick, S. A., Li, Z., Yang, F., et al. (2006). Urinary estrogen and progesterone metabolite concentrations in menstrual cycles of fertile women with non-conception, early pregnancy loss or clinical pregnancy. Human Reproduction, 21, 2272–2280.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Wernick, M., & Manaster, G. J. (1984). Age and the perception of age and attractiveness. The Gerontologist, 24, 408–414.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Wickham H. (2008). ggplot2 elegant graphics for data analysis. Use R! Springer, New York. ISBN 978-0-387-75968-5.

  73. Williams, G. C. (1957). Pleiotropy, natural selection and the evolution of senescence. Evolution, 11, 398–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Yu, Y., Xiang, Z.-F., Yao, H., Grueter, C. C., & Li, M. (2013). Female snub-nosed monkeys exchange grooming for sex and infant handling. PLoS One, 8, e74822.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Zaadstra, B. M., Seidell, J. C., Van Noord, P. A., te Velde, E. R., Habbema, J. D., Vrieswijk, B., & Karbaat, J. (1993). Fat and female fecundity: Prospective study of effect of body fat distribution on conception rates. British Medical Journal, 306, 484–487.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Zelazniewicz, A. M., & Pawlowski, B. (2011). Female breast size attractiveness for men as a function of sociosexual orientation (restricted vs. unrestricted). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1129–1135.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Zuur, A., Ieno, E. N., Walker, N., Saveliev, A. A., & Smith, G. M. (2009). Mixed effects models and extensions in ecology with R (statistics for biology and health) (p. 574). Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Three anonymous referees provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. David Livingstone improved the English.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pavol Prokop.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (KE IZ WMWiNoZ 1/UPD/09/2017) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

The data of the participants involved in this study was publicly shared.

Conflict of Interest

Authors declare no conflict of interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Prokop, P., Dylewski, Ł., Woźna, J.T. et al. Cues of woman’s fertility predict prices for sex with prostitutes. Curr Psychol 39, 919–926 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-9807-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • BMI
  • Breasts
  • Poland
  • Preference
  • Prostitution
  • Sex