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“Straight women may experience increased trust in their relationships with gay men,” explain the authors: In terms of having someone to help them to make the most adaptive reproductive decisions, it’s a one-sided friendship.

With heterosexual men (who, by definition, are sexually attracted to women), the process is longer – and potentially more fraught – because men may be grappling with their own sexual impulses.

Such previous work—which also found that straight women with gay male friends tend to have a positive body image, to feel sexually attractive and secure, and to consider themselves appreciated for their personality—used survey data, thus keeping scientists from drawing any conclusions about the underlying causes.

Russell’s study, by contrast, is the first experimental approach to unraveling the mysteries of this distinct type of relationship, and the authors set out explicitly to test their hypothesis that it all boils down to getting unbiased mate advice. In the first study, the investigators zeroed in on the vantage point of 88 straight undergraduate females.

The women were then asked a series of questions about this target—who, by the way, was given the androgynous name “Jordan” in all three conditions.

More specifically, how much would they trust this “Jordan” when it came to making a variety of mating-related decisions?