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The Science Behind the Thirst for DILFs

A Q&A with the researcher who conducted the first empirical study of the ‘Dad I’d Like to Fuck’

DILFs are in. As E.J. Dickson described for MEL last fall, “One look at Instagram’s vast universe of parenting content suggests many people find babywearing dads sexy as hell. Fathers strapping on their kids drive massive engagement on popular accounts like DILFS of Disneyland and Daddy Doin Work.”

In fact, such DILF-related fervor has inspired Cory Pedersen, the founder of the O.R.G.A.S.M. (Observations and Research in Gender and Sexuality Matters) Research Lab at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada, to embark upon the first empirical study of the attractiveness of DILFs, or Dads I’d Like to Fuck, entitled, naturally, “In Search of the Appeal of the ‘DILF,’” a collaboration between Pedersen and other researchers at the O.R.G.A.S.M. Lab.

Culturally, of course, MILFs are already a fact of life (at least since Stifler’s Mom appeared in the first American Pie movie 20 years ago) — not to mention, a major search term on Pornhub and the various other tube sites. But as Pedersen explains, what’s interesting about the difference between MILFs and DILFs is that the MILF is considered attractive in spite of her kids, while the DILF is considered attractive because of his kids. To better understand this dichotomy as well as all the other DILF science Pedersen uncovered in her study, I recently spoke to her by phone.

Why was a study of DILFs necessary?
We couldn’t find any sort of solid, empirical investigations of them, despite the fact that Pornhub’s 2017 “Year in Review” insights indicated that DILF is becoming a more popular search term. So we knew it was a phenomena of interest, we just didn’t know what underlies it. A MILF is presumably attractive because of her confidence. The fact that she has children and that’s she older makes her appear more confident and sexually experienced. We wanted to investigate whether or not the same factors that seem to attract individuals to the MILF were attractive in the DILF.

We were very much operating on the assumption that previous evolutionary psychology literature indicated that women tend to be attracted to older men. This has been found globally. Women tend to be attracted to older men, and men to be attracted to younger women. Evolutionary psychologists have argued that this discrepancy is explained by our ancestral evolutionary tendencies. Basically, an older man signifies more status, and it’s that status that creates this sort of dominance, which is attractive because in an evolutionary sense, it represents his ability to care for his partner and any potential offspring. Whereas for men, their attraction to younger women represents, in an evolutionary sense, her potential to have offspring.

But that doesn’t explain the MILF. If older men are attracted to younger women, then what’s this big phenomenon around the MILF about? Why is a MILF so hot? The literature seems to suggest there’s something about the presence of children that’s also somewhat hot. As for the DILF, is it just the fact that he’s an older man that turns on women? Or is it the fact that he’s got kids?

That’s what we wanted to figure out in our study.

How did you go about measuring this response among your participants?
We randomly presented participants with an image of a good-looking, 45-year-old man. We told them, “This is Jason. He’s 45. He’s employed. You’ve been introduced by a mutual friend.” Participants were then asked to answer some questions about how they felt about Jason — things like whether he was sexually attractive, whether they would want to have sex with him and whether they would be into him for a long-term relationship and so on.

Another group of participants was distributed the same picture with the same information about Jason, but they were also told that he has two kids. All characteristics of Jason were the same across the two groups, the only difference was that in the one condition, participants were told he has two children. Then we statically asked these participants about their feelings about Jason.

One of the areas of our scale asked about Jason’s positive attributes. Basically, to the extent they’ve met Jason, how responsible, healthy, confident and dependable do they think he is. We found the participants who were exposed to the image of Jason with kids scored him higher in these areas of positive attributes and emotional skill than participants who were exposed to Jason without kids, which seems to suggest kids were the tipping scale in making Jason have more positive attributes overall.

The final set of questions were about his masculinity because we wanted to make sure the participants from each group found him equally hot. Indeed, they did. It didn’t matter whether you were shown Jason with kids or Jason without kids, all the participants found him to be equally hot, rugged, dominant and masculine. The kids, however, seemed to tip the scale for him having these other qualities like empathy and nurturing — these emotional kind of things.

It does seem to suggest that we view the DILF much differently than we have the MILF.  Once women have kids, unless you’re a MILF, there’s this idea they’re now asexual; those notions, though, don’t seem to hold up for men.

Your participants in this study were all women, but did all of them want kids? And did women who didn’t want kids still find Jason more attractive when presented as a father?
We asked participants whether or not they had any children, and whether or not they wanted any children in the future, and we found there were no significant differences in the way they evaluated Jason.

Last question: Even though our culture is pretty shameless about “daddy” and more women than ever are watching porn, there aren’t any straight DILF porn stars. Do you think one will emerge soon, or at the very least, that DILF will become its own Pornhub genre?
I think it’s partly due to the fact that the term DILF seems to have only heavily emerged in media around 2011. So it’s relatively recent in our social culture, right? Whereas the MILF term has been around for a while, and the term cougar was often used in the past. That said, it’s definitely catching on: The porn site xHamster named “daddy” as the number one search for women in the U.S and the fourth most popular term searched by women globally in 2018.