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John Marshall Townsend

John Marshall Townsend

Contact Information:


525 Eggers Hall

John Marshall Townsend

Professor, Anthropology Department

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara


John Marshall Townsend is professor of anthropology, Syracuse University. His research interests include human sexuality, sexual attraction, dating and courtship, marriage and divorce, culture and mental illness, and evolutionary psychology.

He has published numerous articles and books, including "What Women Want-What Men Want" (Oxford University Press). His current research focuses on casual sexual encounters. Townsend has appeared on national television and numerous radio talk shows and his work has been profiled in magazines and newspapers.

He has received grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Newhouse Center for the Study of Popular Television, and the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program. He sits on the editorial board of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Townsend received a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Psychological and medical anthropology, human sexuality, cross-cultural mental health, ethnic relations, symbolic interaction, United States, Germany


Refereed Journal Articles

Associations between motives for casual sex, depression, self-esteem, and sexual victimization. Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2019) (with second & third authors P. K. Jonason, & T. H. Wasserman) 
Advance online publication,

Casual Sex and College Students: The Impact of Father Absence” Evolutionary Psychological Science,
2016 (with first & third authors C. Salmon & J. Hehman). DOI 10.1007/s40806-016-0061-9

Gender difference in emotional reactions and sexual coercion in casual sexual relations: An evolutionary perspective. Personality and Individual Differences, 85, 41-49, 2015 (with second & third authors T. Wasserman & A. Rosenthal) 

"Attractiveness: Perception and Behavior", CQ: the CAPA Quarterly--Journal of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW (2): 6-9, 2012.

"Sexual Hookups among College Students: Sex Differences in Emotional Reactions" (with Timothy H. Wasserman),  Archives of Sexual Behavior 40:1173-1181, 2011.

"Sex, Sex Differences, and the New Polygyny",  Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28 (3):  295-296, 2005.  Invited commentary on:  "Sociosexuality from Argentina to Zimbabwe:  A 48-nation study of sex, culture, and strategies of human mating", by David P Schmitt.

What Women Want--What Men Want:  Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently.  Oxford University Press, l998.

"Sexual Attractiveness:  Sex Differences in Assessment and Criteria" (with Timothy H. Wasserman),  Evolution and Human Behavior 19: 171-191, l998.

"Sex Without Emotional Involvement", Archives of Sexual Behavior 24: 171-204, 1995.

 "Racial, Ethnic, and Mental Illness Stereotypes: Cognitive Process and Behavioral Effects."  In Mental Health, Racism, and Sexism, Charles V. Willie (Ed.).  Baltimore: University of Pittsburgh Press, l995, pp. 119-147.

"Hospitalization and First-Contact Mental Patients: Stigma and Changes in Self-Concept" (with Jaak Rakfeldt),  Research in Community and Mental Health 5:  269-301, l985.