Heavy Petting: Pets (Especially Dogs) Enhance Sex Appeal

In a 2008 experiment, two French social psychologists had a handsome young Frenchman named Antoine approach 240 randomly selected women and ask them for their phone numbers so they could go on a date. The catch was that half the time Antoine was alone and half the time he was accompanied by a cute little grey dog named Gwendu. Did the dog improve Antoine’s hit rate? Absolutely! When he was alone, only 10% of the women gave Antoine their phone number compared to 30% when Gwendu accompanied him.

But do pets affect the dating strategies of today’s singles? Do men really use their pets for date-bait? Are women more attracted to men who adopt a rescue dog? What happens if your pet does not like your date? And what is the sexiest pet? These and other questions about the impact of companion animals on modern romance were asked — and answered — in an innovative study which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Anthrozoös.

The research team was led by University of Nevada – Las Vegas anthropologist Peter Gray. They tested several hypotheses about pets and contemporary courtship and dating rituals. A cardinal tenant of evolutionary psychology is that women tend to allocate more resources to child rearing, while men devote more time and energy to mating. Thus the researchers predicted, for example, that women should be more sensitive than men to how their dates treat their own dogs and cats. Men, on the other hand, should be more likely to use their pets to attract sexual partners. Gray and his colleagues also predicted that when it comes to signaling the qualities of a date as a potential parent, interactions with dogs would provide more salient cues than cats. That’s because dogs are generally thought to —> Read More