Are you coming on to me? Bias and accuracy in couples' perceptions of sexual advances

Kiersten Dobson, Lorne Campbell, Sarah C. E. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How accurately do romantic partners perceive each other’s sexual advances? Two preregistered studies investigated whether perceivers over- or underestimate the specific behaviours their partner uses to indicate sexual interest (directional bias), as well as correctly detect the particular pattern of those behaviours (tracking accuracy). We also tested if biased and accurate perceptions were moderated by gender and explored how bias and accuracy predicted relational outcomes.Results revealed strong evidence for tracking accuracy in judgments of sexual advances overall,and mixed results for directional bias. Gender moderated only directional bias, such that women consistently overestimated their partner’s sexual advances, whereas men underestimated or showed no bias. Finally, biased sexual advance perceptions were associated with sexual satisfaction and love for both perceivers and partners. Implications for relationship functioning are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-484
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
Early online date23 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Mar 2018


  • bias and accuracy
  • love
  • romantic relationships
  • sexual advances
  • sexual satisfaction


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