Melbourne: Women are more likely to select men who are intellectual, shy, calm and methodical as sperm donors than those who are extroverted, a new study into how women choose sperm donors online has found.
Worldwide demand for sperm donors is so great that an informal online market has emerged in which offspring are being produced outside of the more formal fertility clinic setting, said Stephen Whyte from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
"You would expect in an online setting, men would have to sell or promote themselves to women, and extroverted men should be better at doing that. But what we find is actually the opposite," said Whyte.
In what is believed to be the first study to include males who are donating purely through unregulated websites and forums, researchers interviewed and collected data from 56 men.
"This online donor market works quite differently to fertility clinics in that it facilitates more interaction between the recipient and the donor," said Whyte.
"This allows us to explore individual donor personality characteristics and how likely they are to be chosen by women as their donor," he said.
Women were far less likely to choose the sperm of fretful or socially awkward men but at the same time those with lively, extroverted personalities were also less successful in being chosen, researchers said.
The participants for the study were aged between 23 and 66 and were from Australia, Canada, the UK, Italy, Sweden and the US. Data was collected across 2012 and 2013 via online surveys of regulated (paid), semi-regulated and unregulated (free) online sperm donation forums and websites.
"Research has previously shown humans are good at judging personality traits as well as levels of intelligence with only minimal exposure to appearance and behaviours, and our findings certainly seem to support that," said Whyte, who carried the study with Professor Benno Torgler from QUT's Queensland Behavioural Economics Group.
"We also found that 73 per cent of our participants who had children by donation kept in touch via mail, email, phone, video link or even in person with at least one of their donor children," he said.
The study was published in the journal Applied Economic Letters.
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