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People who are either extremely warm or extremely cold toward others tend to be promiscuous — and that people who are just moderately warm have the fewest sexual partners, researchers found.
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updated 5/29/2007 1:30:44 PM ET 2007-05-29T17:30:44

People who are socially dominant and either very friendly or very antagonistic tend to be more sexually promiscuous, according to a new study.

Friendly, warm people may enjoy sharing their warmth with others by sleeping with them, whereas antagonistic people may sleep around to avoid having a monogamous relationship. And having a dominant personality makes it easier to approach potential partners.

Past studies have suggested that people who are dominant tend to have more sexual partners than people who are submissive, but there has been little research into whether a person’s level of interpersonal warmth — the way in which they interact with others — affects their sexual actions.

So Patrick Markey, a psychologist at Villanova University, and his wife Charlotte Markey, a psychologist at Rutgers University, asked 210 adults to take a test to measure their interpersonal characteristics. They also asked the subjects to indicate with how many people they had engaged in certain sexual activities.

When they compared the subjects’ responses, they were able to confirm that dominance is a key trait of people who have a lot of sexual partners. They also found that people who are either extremely warm or extremely cold toward others tend to be promiscuous — and that people who are just moderately warm have the fewest sexual partners.

Antagonistic people might prefer to have multiple sex partners in order to avoid being in a monogamous relationship, out of fear of being poorly treated or being later rejected by a committed partner, the authors noted in their study, which is to be published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Patrick Markey says it’s particularly interesting that warm people tend to be promiscuous, because in some ways, it conflicts with the moral thinking that promiscuity is bad.

While sleeping with multiple partners certainly carries with it certain health risks, “it could be that someone’s not doing it to achieve the most pleasure. Someone actually might be doing it as an expression of their warmth to other people,” he told LiveScience. “A warm person might hug lots of people; a warm person might kiss lots of people. Well, maybe a warm person might sleep with lots of people.”

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

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