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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Courtship

 

Competition and men's face preferences

Lisa Welling et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2013, Pages 414-419

Abstract:
Several studies have examined potentially adaptive shifts and sources of individual differences in women's face preferences, but relatively few studies have looked for similar findings in men. Evidence suggests that men of higher mate-value may be better placed to compete for relationships with higher-quality women, and that contest competition may influence men's perceptions of dominance. Here, we looked at the effects of winning/losing in male-male competition on men's face preferences. Participants were randomly and unknowingly assigned to either win or lose the first-person shooter video game Counter-Strike: Source against an unseen male confederate who could control the outcome through game cheats. We found that, compared to men assigned to the losing condition, men assigned to the winning condition had significantly (p = 0.012) higher preferences for women's facial femininity. Results suggest that the outcomes of male-male competition may alter men's mate preferences.

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Oxytocin Modulates Social Distance between Males and Females

Dirk Scheele et al.
Journal of Neuroscience, 14 November 2012, Pages 16074-16079

Abstract:
In humans, interpersonal romantic attraction and the subsequent development of monogamous pair-bonds is substantially predicted by influential impressions formed during first encounters. The prosocial neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has been identified as a key facilitator of both interpersonal attraction and the formation of parental attachment. However, whether OXT contributes to the maintenance of monogamous bonds after they have been formed is unclear. In this randomized placebo-controlled trial, we provide the first behavioral evidence that the intranasal administration of OXT stimulates men in a monogamous relationship, but not single ones, to keep a much greater distance (∼10-15 cm) between themselves and an attractive woman during a first encounter. This avoidance of close personal proximity occurred in the physical presence of female but not male experimenters and was independent of gaze direction and whether the female experimenter or the subject was moving. We further confirmed this unexpected finding using a photograph-based approach/avoidance task that showed again that OXT only stimulated men in a monogamous relationship to approach pictures of attractive women more slowly. Importantly, these changes cannot be attributed to OXT altering the attitude of monogamous men toward attractive women or their judgments of and arousal by pictures of them. Together, our results suggest that where OXT release is stimulated during a monogamous relationship, it may additionally promote its maintenance by making men avoid signaling romantic interest to other women through close-approach behavior during social encounters. In this way, OXT may help to promote fidelity within monogamous human relationships.

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Backlash From the Bedroom: Stigma Mediates Gender Differences in Acceptance of Casual Sex Offers

Terri Conley, Ali Ziegler & Amy Moors
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Harsher judgments toward women (relative to men) for engaging in similar heterosexual sexual activity have been termed the sexual double standard. Within heterosexual casual sex scenarios, we examined whether the sexual double standard can be explained by desire to avoid counterstereotypical behaviors for fear of social repercussions (i.e., backlash effects). Study 1a showed that female casual sex accepters received more opprobrium than male accepters. Study 1b demonstrated that women were less likely to accept casual sex offers than men and that the gender difference was partially mediated by the more negative judgments women anticipated for accepting the casual sex offer. In Study 2a, participants recalled real-life sexual proposals; women expected to be perceived more negatively than men for accepting an offer of casual sex. Finally, in Study 2b, we demonstrated that fear of stigma mediates gender differences in acceptance of actual recalled casual sex offers. Across the four studies and nearly 3,000 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 74, we examined the role of stigma in men and women's reactions to casual sex and successfully integrated two relatively independent research domains: that of sexuality on one hand, and research on the backlash effects on the other. We were also able to extend the concept of backlash to help us understand a wider range of social choices.

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Priming concerns about pathogen threat versus resource scarcity: Dissociable effects on women's perceptions of men's attractiveness and dominance

Christopher Watkins et al.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, December 2012, Pages 1549-1556

Abstract:
Previous experimental work suggests flexibility in women's mate preferences that appears to reflect the advantages of choosing healthy mates under conditions of pathogen threat and of choosing prosocial mates under conditions of resource scarcity. Following this work, we used an established priming paradigm to examine the effects of priming women's concerns about pathogen threat versus resource scarcity on their judgments of men's facial attractiveness and dominance. We found that women reported stronger attraction to masculine men when their concerns about pathogens were activated than when their concerns about resource scarcity were activated. In contrast, we found that women were more likely to ascribe high dominance to masculine men when their concerns about resource scarcity were activated than when their concerns about pathogens were activated. This latter result may reflect the greater importance of identifying men who pose a substantial threat to women's resources and personal safety when resources are scarce and violence towards women is particularly common. Together, these findings suggest a double dissociation between the effects of pathogen threat and resource scarcity on women's perceptions of the attractiveness and dominance of masculine men, potentially revealing considerably greater specialization (i.e., context specificity) in the effects of environmental threats on women's perceptions of men than was apparent in previous research.

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Exploring why young African American women do not change condom-use behavior following participation in an STI/HIV prevention intervention

J.M. Sales et al.
Health Education Research, December 2012, Pages 1091-1101

Abstract:
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) interventions can significantly reduce risky sexual behaviors among vulnerable populations. However, not everyone exposed to an intervention will reduce their sexual risk behavior. This qualitative study sought to identify factors associated with young African American females' lack of increase in condom use post-participation in an HIV prevention intervention. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 young African American women (18-23 years; approximately half were mothers) after participating in a demonstrated effective HIV prevention intervention; 24 did not increase condom use post-intervention. Interviews were thematically coded for barriers to condom-use post-intervention. Although nearly all young women reported partner-associated challenges to using condoms, there were relational differences observed among those who changed their condom use versus those who did not. Many ‘non-changers' were engaged in non-stable ‘on and off' relationships, with high rates of infidelity, often with the father of their child, in which they were fearful of requesting condom use. ‘Non-changers' also reported more substance use, feeling incapable of change and not thinking about condom use. Thus, future HIV prevention efforts may benefit from incorporating strategies on how young mothers can maintain a non-sexual relationship with their child's father, as well as elaborating on the intersection of substance use and risky sexual decision-making.

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Underestimating Protection and Overestimating Risk: Examining Descriptive Normative Perceptions and Their Association with Drinking and Sexual Behaviors

Melissa Lewis et al.
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals who engage in risky sexual behavior face the possibility of experiencing negative consequences. One tenet of social learning theory is that individuals engage in behaviors partly based on observations or perceptions of others' engagement in those behaviors. The present study aimed to document these norms-behavior relationships for both risky and protective sexual behaviors, including alcohol-related sexual behavior. Gender was also examined as a possible moderator of the norms-behavior relationship. Undergraduate students (n = 759; 58.0% female) completed a Web-based survey, including various measures of drinking and sexual behavior. Results indicated that students underestimate sexual health-protective behaviors (e.g., condom use and birth control use) and overestimate the risky behaviors (e.g., frequency of drinking prior to sex, typical number of drinks prior to sex, and frequency of casual sex) of their same-sex peers. All norms were positively associated with behavior, with the exception of condom use. Furthermore, no gender differences were found when examining the relationship between normative perceptions and behavior. The present study adds to the existing literature on normative misperceptions as it indicates that college students overestimate risky sexual behavior while underestimating sexual health-protective behaviors. Implications for interventions using the social norm approach and future directions are discussed.

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Race-Ethnic Differences in Sexual Health Knowledge

Karen Benjamin Guzzo & Sarah Hayford
Race and Social Problems, December 2012, Pages 158-170

Abstract:
Despite extensive research examining the correlates of unintended fertility, it remains a puzzle as to why racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience an unintended birth than non-Hispanic whites. This paper focuses on sexual literacy, a potential precursor of unintended fertility. Analyses use a unique dataset of unmarried young adults aged 18-29, the 2009 Survey of Unmarried Young Adults' Contraceptive Knowledge and Practices, to examine beliefs regarding pregnancy risks, pregnancy fatalism, and contraceptive side effects. At the bivariate level, foreign-born Hispanics hold more erroneous beliefs about the risk of pregnancy than other groups, and non-Hispanic blacks are more likely to believe in contraceptive side effects than non-Hispanic whites. Both foreign-born Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to hold a fatalistic view toward pregnancy. Race-ethnic differences are attenuated for pregnancy misperceptions and fatalism in multivariate models controlling for sources of health information, sexual and fertility experiences, and sociodemographic characteristics. However, non-Hispanic blacks remain more likely than non-Hispanic whites to believe there is a high chance of reduced sexual desire and serious health consequences when using hormonal contraceptives. These differences may contribute to race-ethnic variation in contraceptive use and, ultimately, unintended fertility.

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Other-Sex Relationship Stress and Sex Differences in the Contribution of Puberty to Depression

Nicole Llewellyn, Karen Rudolph & Glenn Roisman
Journal of Early Adolescence, December 2012, Pages 824-850

Abstract:
Research suggests that the pubertal transition, particularly when experienced earlier than age-matched peers, is associated with heightened depression in girls but less depression in boys. This study examined whether stress within other-sex relationships serves as one process through which puberty differentially contributes to depression for girls and boys. Youth (51 girls, 34 boys; M age = 12.68) and their caregivers reported on pubertal status and age of menarche. Semistructured interviews were conducted to assess youths' depression and exposure to chronic other-sex stress. As anticipated, more advanced status and earlier timing were associated with more depression in girls and less depression in boys. More advanced status and earlier timing were associated with less other-sex stress in boys; earlier age of menarche was associated with more other-sex stress in girls. Other-sex stress partially mediated the early menarche-depression association in girls, suggesting one process through which puberty promotes risk for depression in girls.

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Testosterone and Sexual Desire in Healthy Women and Men

Sari van Anders
Archives of Sexual Behavior, December 2012, Pages 1471-1484

Abstract:
Sexual desire is typically higher in men than in women, with testosterone (T) thought to account for this difference as well as within-sex variation in desire in both women and men. However, few studies have incorporated both hormonal and social or psychological factors in studies of sexual desire. The present study addressed how three psychological domains (sexual-relational, stress-mood, body-embodiment) were related to links between T and sexual desire in healthy adults and whether dyadic and solitary desire showed associations with T. Participants (n = 196) were recruited as part of the Partnering, Physiology, and Health study, which had 105 men and 91 women who completed questionnaires and provided saliva for cortisol and T assays. T was positively linked to solitary desire in women, with masturbation frequency influencing this link. In contrast, T was negatively correlated with dyadic desire in women, but only when cortisol and perceived social stress were controlled. Replicating past findings, no significant correlations between T and desire in men were apparent, but these analyses showed that the null association remained even when psychological and confound variables were controlled. Men showed higher desire than women, but masturbation frequency rather than T influenced this difference. Results were discussed in terms of challenges to assumptions of clear links between T and desire, gendered approaches to T, and the unitarity of desire.

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Women's attractiveness changes with estradiol and progesterone across the ovulatory cycle

David Puts et al.
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In many species, females are more sexually attractive to males near ovulation. Some evidence suggests a similar pattern in humans, but methodological limitations prohibit firm conclusions at present, and information on physiological mechanisms underlying any such pattern is lacking. In 202 normally-cycling women, we explored whether women's attractiveness changed over the cycle as a function of two likely candidates for mediating these changes: estradiol and progesterone. We scheduled women to attend one session during the late follicular phase and another during the mid-luteal phase. At each session, facial photographs, voice recordings and saliva samples were collected. All photographs and voice recordings were subsequently rated by men for attractiveness and by women for flirtatiousness and attractiveness to men. Saliva samples were assayed for estradiol and progesterone. We found that progesterone and its interaction with estradiol negatively predicted vocal attractiveness and overall (facial plus vocal) attractiveness to men. Progesterone also negatively predicted women's facial attractiveness to men and female-rated facial attractiveness, facial flirtatiousness and vocal attractiveness, but not female-rated vocal flirtatiousness. These results strongly suggest a pattern of increased attractiveness during peak fertility in the menstrual cycle and implicate estradiol and progesterone in driving these changes.

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Adiposity, compared with masculinity, serves as a more valid cue to immunocompetence in human mate choice

Markus Rantala et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 January 2013

Abstract:
According to the ‘good genes' hypothesis, females choose males based on traits that indicate the male's genetic quality in terms of disease resistance. The ‘immunocompetence handicap hypothesis' proposed that secondary sexual traits serve as indicators of male genetic quality, because they indicate that males can contend with the immunosuppressive effects of testosterone. Masculinity is commonly assumed to serve as such a secondary sexual trait. Yet, women do not consistently prefer masculine looking men, nor is masculinity consistently related to health across studies. Here, we show that adiposity, but not masculinity, significantly mediates the relationship between a direct measure of immune response (hepatitis B antibody response) and attractiveness for both body and facial measurements. In addition, we show that circulating testosterone is more closely associated with adiposity than masculinity. These findings indicate that adiposity, compared with masculinity, serves as a more important cue to immunocompetence in female mate choice.

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African Perceptions of Female Attractiveness

Vinet Coetzee et al.
PLoS ONE, October 2012

Abstract:
Little is known about mate choice preferences outside Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic societies, even though these Western populations may be particularly unrepresentative of human populations. To our knowledge, this is the first study to test which facial cues contribute to African perceptions of African female attractiveness and also the first study to test the combined role of facial adiposity, skin colour (lightness, yellowness and redness), skin homogeneity and youthfulness in the facial attractiveness preferences of any population. Results show that youthfulness, skin colour, skin homogeneity and facial adiposity significantly and independently predict attractiveness in female African faces. Younger, thinner women with a lighter, yellower skin colour and a more homogenous skin tone are considered more attractive. These findings provide a more global perspective on human mate choice and point to a universal role for these four facial cues in female facial attractiveness.

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Sociosexuality Predicts Women's Preferences for Symmetry in Men's Faces

Michelle Quist et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, December 2012, Pages 1415-1421

Abstract:
Although men displaying cues of good physical condition possess traits that are desirable in a mate (e.g., good health), these men are also more likely to possess antisocial characteristics that are undesirable in a long-term partner (e.g., aggression and tendency to infidelity). How women resolve this trade-off between the costs and benefits associated with choosing a mate in good physical condition may lead to strategic variation in women's mate preferences. Because the costs of choosing a mate with antisocial personality characteristics are greater in long- than short-term relationships, women's sociosexuality (i.e., the extent to which they are interested in uncommitted sexual relationships) may predict individual differences in their mate preferences. Here we investigated variation in 99 heterosexual women's preferences for facial symmetry, a characteristic that is thought to be an important cue of physical condition. Symmetry preferences were assessed using pairs of symmetrized and original (i.e., relatively asymmetric) versions of 10 male and 10 female faces. Analyses showed that women's sociosexuality, and their sociosexual attitude in particular, predicted their preferences for symmetry in men's, but not women's, faces; women who reported being more interested in short-term, uncommitted relationships demonstrated stronger attraction to symmetric men. Our findings present new evidence for potentially adaptive variation in women's symmetry preferences that is consistent with trade-off theories of attraction.

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The effects of relationship context and modality on ratings of funniness

Mary Louise Cowan & Anthony Little
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is evidence to suggest that humour is an important part of mate choice and that humour may serve as an indicator of genetic quality. The current study investigated how rated funniness from a video clip was related to an individual's attractiveness as a short-term or long-term partner. We additionally tested for the presence of an attractiveness halo effect on humour ratings by comparing ratings of funniness from video clips, audio-only presentations, and photographs. We found that funniness was most strongly correlated with attractiveness for short-term relationships, especially in videos of males. We also found that attractiveness was related to funniness ratings differently across video, audio-only clips, and photographs. Relative to their rated funniness in the audio-only condition, with no appearance cues, attractive individuals were rated as funnier in video clips than less attractive individuals. An additional study demonstrated that ratings of flirtatiousness and funniness were strongly correlated. Perceived similarity between producing humour and flirting may explain why humour is more preferable in a short-term partner as flirting may be seen to signal proceptivity. The effects of attractiveness on humour judgement may also be explained by an association with flirtation as flirting may be most enjoyable when directed by attractive individuals.

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Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex Mediates Rapid Evaluations Predicting the Outcome of Romantic Interactions

Jeffrey Cooper et al.
Journal of Neuroscience, 7 November 2012, Pages 15647-15656

Abstract:
Humans frequently make real-world decisions based on rapid evaluations of minimal information; for example, should we talk to an attractive stranger at a party? Little is known, however, about how the brain makes rapid evaluations with real and immediate social consequences. To address this question, we scanned participants with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they viewed photos of individuals that they subsequently met at real-life "speed-dating" events. Neural activity in two areas of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), paracingulate cortex, and rostromedial prefrontal cortex (RMPFC) was predictive of whether each individual would be ultimately pursued for a romantic relationship or rejected. Activity in these areas was attributable to two distinct components of romantic evaluation: either consensus judgments about physical beauty (paracingulate cortex) or individualized preferences based on a partner's perceived personality (RMPFC). These data identify novel computational roles for these regions of the DMPFC in even very rapid social evaluations. Even a first glance, then, can accurately predict romantic desire, but that glance involves a mix of physical and psychological judgments that depend on specific regions of DMPFC.

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Tattoos, Piercings, and Sexual Activity

Nicolas Guéguen
Social Behavior and Personality, October 2012, Pages 1543-1547

Abstract:
In this study, I examined the correlation between having a tattoo and/or body piercing and the time at which sexual activity began. Data were gathered from a convenience sample of 2,080 students, who were recruited by approaching them on the campuses of public universities in France. Tattooed and/or pierced students reported earlier experiences of sexual intercourse than did nonpierced and nontattooed students. This effect was found with both males and females, and was reinforced when respondents had both piercings and tattoos.

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Evidence for Genetic Variation in Human Mate Preferences for Sexually Dimorphic Physical Traits

Karin Verweij, Andrea Burri & Brendan Zietsch
PLoS ONE, November 2012

Abstract:
Intersexual selection has been proposed as an important force in shaping a number of morphological traits that differ between human populations and/or between the sexes. Important to these accounts is the source of mate preferences for such traits, but this has not been investigated. In a large sample of twins, we assess forced-choice, dichotomous mate preferences for height, skin colour, hair colour and length, chest hair, facial hair, and breast size. Across the traits, identical twins reported more similar preferences than nonidentical twins, suggesting genetic effects. However, the relative magnitude of estimated genetic and environmental effects differed greatly and significantly between different trait preferences, with heritability estimates ranging from zero to 57%.

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Schadenfreude as a mate-value-tracking mechanism

Leisha Colyn & Anne Gordon
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study proposed a new theoretical formulation of schadenfreude as a psychological mechanism that responds to misfortunes that lower competitors' mate value. In Study 1, participants reported schadenfreude in response to their friends' naturally occurring and hypothetical misfortunes. In Study 2, participants reported schadenfreude in response to an envied friend experiencing a hypothetical misfortune linked with female or male mate value. As predicted, females in both studies reported more schadenfreude when a same-gender friend experienced a misfortune that lowered her physical attractiveness versus social status. Less consistent support was found for the prediction that males would report more schadenfreude when a same-gender friend experienced a misfortune that lowered his social status versus physical attractiveness. This study suggests several directions for future research.

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Pleasantness of the Odor of Androstenone as a Function of Sexual Intercourse Experience in Women and Men

Antti Knaapila et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, December 2012, Pages 1403-1408

Abstract:
Androstenone (5α-androst-16-en-3-one) and other androstenes, body odor components occurring in apocrine secretions, may play a role in human chemosignaling. We hypothesized that the odor of androstenone may gain hedonic value from sexual intercourse experiences via associative learning. Young adults (N = 397, 61.5% women, age 21-24 years, randomly sampled regarding sexual experience) rated the intensity and pleasantness of the odors of androstenone, cinnamon, chocolate, isovaleric acid, lemon, and turpentine. Among women who were able to perceive androstenone, the odor was rated as more pleasant (less unpleasant) by those who had had experienced sexual intercourse with at least one partner (n = 175) than by those who reported never having experienced intercourse (n = 12, p = .006). The difference was specific to women. The results suggest that, among women, sexual experience may modify the pleasantness of the odor of androstenone.

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Men smelling women: Null effects of exposure to ovulatory sweat on men's testosterone

James Roney & Zachary Simmons
Evolutionary Psychology, October 2012, Pages 703-713

Abstract:
Males of many species, humans included, exhibit rapid testosterone increases after exposure to conspecific females. Female chemical stimuli are sufficient to trigger these responses in many nonhuman species, which raises the possibility of similar effects in humans. Recently, Miller and Maner (2010) reported that smelling T-shirts worn by women near ovulation can trigger testosterone responses in men; however, men were aware that they were smelling women's scents, and thus mental imagery associated with that knowledge may have contributed to the hormone responses. Here, we collected axillary sweat samples from women on days near ovulation. In a crossover design, men who were not explicitly aware of the specific stimuli smelled the sweat samples in one session and water samples in a second session. There were no differences in testosterone responses across the experimental conditions. Our null findings suggest that the relevant chemical signal is not found in axillary sweat, and/or that knowledge of the stimulus source is necessary for hormone responses. These results thus suggest boundary conditions for the effects reported in Miller and Maner (2010), and recommend further research to define the precise circumstances under which men's testosterone may respond to chemosensory cues from women.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM