A social psychology professor at the University of Kansas has claimed that grim economic times could cause men to seek more sexual partners, giving them more chances to reproduce.

Men are likely to pursue short-term mating strategies when faced with a threatening environment, according to sexual selection theory based on evolutionary psychology.

When made to think about their own death, which mimics conditions of "low survivability," Omri Gillath.

Gillath and his colleagues found that men responded more vigorously to sexual pictures and had increased heart rates when viewing them, compared to when they thought about dental pain.

"We're biologically wired to reproduce, and the environment tells us the best strategy to use to make sure our genes are passed on," he said.

"If you think you might die soon, there's a huge advantage for a man to use short-term mating strategies -- to make sure there are a bunch of offspring and hope that some of them survive -- but women can't do the same thing.

"When the environment is secure and you have enough food and things are working the way you would like them to, people are more likely to invest in their existing kids and stay with their current partner or prefer long-term mating strategies.

 "But if the environment is dangerous and your chances of survival are low -- if there is a famine or more enemies -- then people will adopt short-term strategies which allow them to reproduce more," Gillath added.

The professor thinks that such an enduringly terrible economy may prompt men to stray away from their long-term committed relationships and follow a more promiscuous lifestyle