Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Donor insemination is the most common type of assisted reproductive technology that healthy women use to achieve pregnancy. An increasing proportion of these women are single and their choices of sperm donors are likely to reflect criteria other than those of matching donor attributes to marital-type partners. I present work done to examine how women chose sperm donors. In the first paper, women’s preferences for hypothetical sperm donors were compared to those for men in other potentially reproductive contexts, specifically long-term mates and extra-pair partners (i.e., sexual partners other than primary mates). As might be anticipated, there was heavy emphasis on health and physical attributes, but women weer surprisingly concerned with the sperm donor’s “good character”, even though they believed that these character attributes were not genetically transmissible. These results suggested that these women who assessed attributes in donors used some of the decision-making processes that are normally associated with long-term mate choice. In the second paper, women’s preferences for hypothetical sperm donors and long-term mates were examined in a Norwegian’s preferences were remarkably similar to those of the Canadian women, and again suggested that women’s preferences for sperm donors were influenced by their mate choice criteria. In the third paper, clinical and experimental work was reviewed that suggested that information and choices should be made available to women who use donor insemination. The literature on donor insemination remains devoid, however, of information on how women choose donors in clinical settings. In the final paper, we examined how both single women and women with partners chose sperm donors in a clinical setting, by identifying information that predicted their choices. As found in earlier experiments, women used information about health, and there was some evidence that they used information related to desirable attributes in mates. These results were then compared to information that predicted experimental subjects’ hypothetical choices of donors. Findings from this comparison suggested that these subjects used some of the same criteria as the donor insemination clients, and that results obtained in experimental studies of mate and donor selection can provide insight into women’s choices of sperm donors.
Scheib, Joanna Eva, "The Psychology of Female Choice in the Context of Donor Insemination" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2952.