We tested the hypothesis that autistic-like traits are associated with restricted sociosexuality and investigated the role of stress and sex hormones as potential physiological mechanisms underlying this association. Study participants were heterosexual male college students (n=107). Individuals with more autistic-like traits reported lower short-term mating orientation and less previous sexual experience. Autistic-like traits were associated with greater cortisol secretion during a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and greater testosterone and cortisol reactivity to a video with explicit erotic content. Cortisol secretion during the TSST was negatively correlated with short-term mating orientation. A mediation analysis suggested that cortisol reactivity to socially stressful stimuli may be one of the physiological mechanisms linking autistic-like traits and sociosexuality. These findings have implications for our understanding of autisticlike traits in normal populations, our knowledge of the relationship between psychosocial stress, sexual arousal, and sociosexuality, and also for research on the role of hormonal mechanisms in inter-individual variation in male life history strategies.
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