“Such risk biases could profitably be discussed during sex education sessions and in condom use promotion interventions,” the researchers noted.
The research, led by Anastasia Eleftheriou, a graduate student in computer science at the University of Southampton in England, was published in the journal BMJ Open.
In the study, 51 men were asked to rate the attractiveness of 20 women on the basis of facial photographs, to estimate the likelihood that each woman had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and to indicate their willingness to have sex with or without a condom with each woman.
The more attractive a man considered a woman to be, the less likely it was that he would intend to use a condom during sex with her, even if he thought the woman had a sexually transmitted infection, the findings showed.
The researchers also found that when a man judged a woman to be less attractive, he was more willing to use a condom.
The risk of unprotected sex also goes up when a man considers himself to be attractive, the study suggests.
The more attractive a participant judged himself to be, the less likely he was to intend to use a condom, the results showed.