Evidence for and Against Social Exchange View of Heterosexual Relations.

According to a recent paper by Baumeister and Vohs (2004), “a heterosexual community can be analysed as a marketplace in which men seek to acquire sex from women by offering other resources in exchange. Societies will therefore define gender roles as if women are sellers and men buyers of sex”   Critically evaluate the evidence for and against this social exchange view of heterosexual relations. To what extent does this approach add value to our scientific understanding of sexual relations between men and women?

Baumeister and Vohs’ (2004) exchange theory of sex advocates that heterosexual relationships can be analysed and are analogous to a marketplace, in which sex is a female resource that is exchanged by women to acquire other resources men have. By using economic principles such as supply and demand and product competition to analyse society, the roles held by men and women become apparent; women as sellers and men as buyers. There are however limitations and aspects of this theory which affect the extent in which it adds value to our scientific understanding of sexual relations between men and women.
The exchange theory of sex describes how men and women interact as buyers and sellers of sex respectively within a marketplace, but why is it that sex is a female resource and not a males? There are several plausible reasons why this occurs: The first reason is based on the social exchange concept of ‘principle of least interest’ where an individual gains power by wanting something less than the other person (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004). In terms of the present argument women have less desire for sex than males do and as a result of this they can use sex to get other things from males who desire sex. There are an overwhelming number of empirical findings supporting this claim. Baumeister, Catanese and Vohs (2001) performed a comprehensive review of the literature concerning which gender had stronger sex drive and on every study (which included over 10...