Findings

Meet Market

Kevin Lewis

January 23, 2011

Compatibility or restraint? The effects of sexual timing on marriage relationships

Dean Busby, Jason Carroll & Brian Willoughby
Journal of Family Psychology, December 2010, Pages 766-774

Abstract:
Very little is known about the influence of sexual timing on relationship outcomes. Is it better to test sexual compatibility as early as possible or show sexual restraint so that other areas of the relationship can develop? In this study, we explore this question with a sample of 2035 married individuals by examining how soon they became sexually involved as a couple and how this timing is related to their current sexual quality, relationship communication, and relationship satisfaction and perceived stability. Both structural equation and group comparison analyses demonstrated that sexual restraint was associated with better relationship outcomes, even when controlling for education, the number of sexual partners, religiosity, and relationship length.

-----------------------

Forbidden fruit: Inattention to attractive alternatives provokes implicit relationship reactance

Nathan DeWall, Jon Maner, Timothy Deckman & Aaron Rouby
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Being inattentive to attractive relationship alternatives can enhance relationship well-being. The current investigation, however, demonstrates that implicitly preventing people from attending to desirable relationship alternatives may undermine, rather than bolster, the strength of that person's romantic relationship. Consistent with the notion of "forbidden fruit," we found that subtly limiting people's attention to attractive alternatives reduced relationship satisfaction and commitment and increased positive attitudes toward infidelity (Experiment 1), increased memory for attractive relationship alternatives (Experiment 2), and increased attention to attractive alternatives (Experiment 3). Findings suggest that although attention to attractive alternatives can harm one's relationship, situations that implicitly limit one's attention to alternatives can, rather ironically, increase the temptation of alternatives and undermine relationship well-being.

-----------------------

Do Men and Women Have the Same Average Number of Lifetime Partners?

Marc Artzrouni & Eva Deuchert
Mathematical Population Studies, October 2010, Pages 242-256

Abstract:
It is generally thought that for sake of consistency men and women must have the same average number of lifetime partners. However, this is not the case in general. When men have younger partners, women enter sexual relationships more quickly than men and have a higher number of lifetime partners. A male dominant model applied to UK data on the male rate of entry into a sexual relationship and the male partnership formation function shows that in a stationary population (zero growth rate) women have 9.1% more partners than men. In a stable population with an intrinsic growth rate of -2% and a larger but still plausible difference between the ages of partners, women have 24.6% more partners than men. Given that in sex surveys men report more partners than women, the resulting bias in estimated numbers of partners may therefore be larger than previously thought.

-----------------------

The Future of an Applied Evolutionary Psychology for Human Partnerships

Craig Roberts, Emily Miner & Todd Shackelford
Review of General Psychology, December 2010, Pages 318-329

Abstract:
There has been significant recent progress in our understanding of human mate choice. We outline several frontiers of rapid cultural change which may increasingly directly affect individual self-evaluation in the mating market, formation and maintenance of long-term partnerships, and potentially reproductive outcome and child health. Specifically, we review evidence for the effects of (1) increasing exposure to mass media, (2) the advent of novel ways to meet potential partners, and (3) cultural influences which may disrupt or alter the expression of evolved mate preferences. We comment on the potential for these effects to influence self-perception and partner-perception, with downstream effects on relationship satisfaction and stability. A common theme emerges, which is that these effects may contribute to relationship dissatisfaction and dissolution, with negative implications for societal change. We then address how we envisage evolutionary psychology research may focus on and offer informed approaches to ameliorate these effects in the future. We picture the development of a field of applied evolutionary psychology, and we suggest that this will increasingly become a central focus for many researchers.

-----------------------

The Effects of Control of Resources on Magnitudes of Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences

Fhionna Moore, Clare Cassidy & David Perrett
Evolutionary Psychology, December 2010, Pages 720-735

Abstract:
We tested the hypothesis that magnitudes of sex differences in human mate preferences would be inversely related to control of resources. Specifically, we predicted that the ideal partner age, maximum and minimum partner ages tolerated and preferences for "physical attractiveness" over "good financial prospects" of female participants would approach parity with that of men with increasing control of resources. In a sample of 3770 participants recruited via an online survey, the magnitudes of sex differences in age preferences increased with resource control whereas the sex difference in preferences for "physical attractiveness" over "good financial prospects" disappeared when resource control was high. Results are inconsistent, and are discussed in the context of adaptive tradeoff and biosocial models of sex differences in human mate preferences.

-----------------------

Only because I love you: Why people make and why they break promises in romantic relationships

Johanna Peetz & Lara Kammrath
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People make and break promises frequently in interpersonal relationships. In this article, we investigate the processes leading up to making promises and the processes involved in keeping them. Across 4 studies, we demonstrate that people who had the most positive relationship feelings and who were most motivated to be responsive to the partner's needs made bigger promises than did other people but were not any better at keeping them. Instead, promisers' self-regulation skills, such as trait conscientiousness, predicted the extent to which promises were kept or broken. In a causal test of our hypotheses, participants who were focused on their feelings for their partner promised more, whereas participants who generated a plan of self-regulation followed through more on their promises. Thus, people were making promises for very different reasons (positive relationship feelings, responsiveness motivation) than what made them keep these promises (self-regulation skills). Ironically, then, those who are most motivated to be responsive may be most likely to break their romantic promises, as they are making ambitious commitments they will later be unable to keep.

-----------------------

Variation in perceptions of physical dominance and trustworthiness predicts individual differences in the effect of relationship context on women's preferences for masculine pitch in men's voices

Jovana Vukovic et al.
British Journal of Psychology, February 2011, Pages 37-48

Abstract:
Several studies have found that women tend to demonstrate stronger preferences for masculine men as short-term partners than as long-term partners, though there is considerable variation among women in the magnitude of this effect. One possible source of this variation is individual differences in the extent to which women perceive masculine men to possess antisocial traits that are less costly in short-term relationships than in long-term relationships. Consistent with this proposal, here we show that the extent to which women report stronger preferences for men with low (i.e., masculine) voice pitch as short-term partners than as long-term partners is associated with the extent to which they attribute physical dominance and low trustworthiness to these masculine voices. Thus, our findings suggest that variation in the extent to which women attribute negative personality characteristics to masculine men predicts individual differences in the magnitude of the effect of relationship context on women's masculinity preferences, highlighting the importance of perceived personality attributions for individual differences in women's judgments of men's vocal attractiveness and, potentially, their mate preferences.

-----------------------

Intrasexual peer aggression and dating behavior during adolescence: An evolutionary perspective

Andrew Gallup, Daniel O'Brien & David Sloan Wilson
Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
It has been suggested that the use of intrasexual aggression is a form of competition associated with reproductive opportunities. Here the authors investigated the relationship between retrospective dating and flirting behavior and peer aggression and victimization during middle and high school. Results indicate that the use of peer aggression was associated with adaptive dating outcomes in both sexes, whereas experiencing peer victimization was correlated with maladaptive dating behaviors among females only. Females who perpetrated high levels of indirect (i.e. nonphysical) aggression reported that they began dating at earlier ages in comparison to their peers, whereas aggressive males reported having more total dating partners. Experiencing female-female peer victimization was correlated with a later onset of dating behavior, more total dating partners, and less male flirtation while growing up. This report strengthens the connection between adolescent peer aggression and reproductive competition, suggesting a potential functionality to adolescent peer aggression in enhancing one's own mating opportunities at the expense of rivals.

-----------------------

Something in the way he moves? Interpersonal judgments of acquaintance rapists

Christopher Burris & John Rempel
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies explored variations in women's appraisals of acquaintance rapists. In Study 1, an acquaintance rapist was evaluated the least harshly when he was physically dominating but sexually dysfunctional. In Study 2, this softening of the rapist's perceived qualities was most evident when he attributed his sexual failure to a need for his victim's sexual consent. Acquaintance rape is therefore an interpersonal crime that can yield varied judgments of its perpetrators. In particular, some women may give more benefit of doubt to sexually violent men by relying on an "adversary transformation" narrative in which the victim has tamed the rapist and harnessed his strength, passion, and other desirable qualities for herself.

-----------------------

Caution: Fragile! Regulating the interpersonal security of chronically insecure partners

Edward Lemay & Kari Dudley
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors present and test a model of interpersonal insecurity compensation. According to this model, perceivers detect targets' chronic insecurities about interpersonal acceptance, become vigilant about upsetting targets, and respond with affective exaggeration, which involves cautiously inflating positive thoughts and feelings about targets and concealing negative sentiments. Results of 3 studies support this model across a variety of relationship types. Perceivers who detected targets' chronic insecurities concealed negative sentiments when they believed their sentiments would be observed by targets (Study 1), converged with other perceivers in their self-reported affective exaggeration to insecure targets (Study 2), and reported vigilance about upsetting targets, which predicted perceivers' enhanced cognitive processing of targets' daily insecurity and intensified their tendencies to exaggerate affections in response to that insecurity (Study 3). Perceivers' affective exaggeration appeared to enhance chronically insecure targets' perceptions of being valued by perceivers, but it also predicted perceivers' reduced relationship satisfaction (Studies 2 and 3). Results underscore the active, but perhaps dissatisfying, regulation of relationships with chronically insecure relationship partners.

-----------------------

Swimming serenely in a sea of words: Sexism, communication, and precarious couples

Sarah Angulo, Matthew Brooks & William Swann
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
When critical, verbally disinhibited women pair with verbally inhibited men, relationship quality suffers, rendering the relationship precarious. The interpersonal and personal antecedents of this precarious couple effect were examined. It was found that the precarious couple effect was partially mediated by unhealthy communication patterns, specifically, the absence of mutual constructive criticism and the presence of a woman-demand/man-withdraw pattern. It is proposed further that such unhealthy communication patterns emerge because inhibited men who endorse traditional conceptions of sex roles are dissatisfied with relatively disinhibited women who are also critical, setting in motion a chain of unhealthy communication patterns. Results were generally consistent with this prediction. Implications for understanding the role of sexism and personality mismatch in relationships are discussed.

-----------------------

From dating to mating and relating: Predictors of initial and long-term outcomes of speed-dating in a community sample

Jens Asendorpf, Lars Penke & Mitja Back
European Journal of Personality, January/February 2011, Pages 16-30

Abstract:
We studied initial and long-term outcomes of speed-dating over a period of 1 year in a community sample involving 382 participants aged 18-54 years. They were followed from their initial choices of dating partners up to later mating (sexual intercourse) and relating (romantic relationship). Using Social Relations Model analyses, we examined evolutionarily informed hypotheses on both individual and dyadic effects of participants' physical characteristics, personality, education and income on their dating, mating and relating. Both men and women based their choices mainly on the dating partners' physical attractiveness, and women additionally on men's sociosexuality, openness to experience, shyness, education and income. Choosiness increased with age in men, decreased with age in women and was positively related to popularity among the other sex, but mainly for men. Partner similarity had only weak effects on dating success. The chance for mating with a speed-dating partner was 6%, and was increased by men's short-term mating interest; the chance for relating was 4%, and was increased by women's long-term mating interest.

-----------------------

How can you resist? Executive control helps romantically involved individuals to stay faithful

Tila Pronk, Johan Karremans & Daniel Wigboldus
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present research, we examined why some people have more difficulty than others in staying faithful to their romantic partners. Three studies supported our main prediction that executive control is associated with romantically involved individuals' ability to stay faithful. Study 1 showed that participants with a higher level of executive control reported less difficulty in staying faithful to their partners than did those with lower levels of executive control. In Study 2, romantically involved male participants were placed in a waiting room together with an attractive female confederate. Results showed that participants with a higher level of executive control showed less flirting behavior with the confederate than did those with lower levels of executive control. Study 3 demonstrated that a higher level of executive control was related to a lower expressed desire to meet an attractive other, but only for romantically involved participants. Together, these studies showed that executive control helps romantically involved individuals to deal with the lure of attractive alternatives.

-----------------------

Sexy thoughts: Effects of sexual cognitions on testosterone, cortisol, and arousal in women

Katherine Goldey & Sari van Anders
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that sexual stimuli increase testosterone (T) in women and shows inconsistent effects of sexual arousal on cortisol (C), but effects of cognitive aspects of arousal, rather than behaviors or sensory stimuli, are unclear. The present study examined whether sexual thoughts affect T or C and whether hormonal contraceptive (HC) use moderated this effect, given mixed findings of HC use confounding hormone responses. Participants (79 women) provided a baseline saliva sample for radioimmunoassay. We created the Imagined Social Situation Exercise (ISSE) to test effects of imagining social interactions on hormones, and participants were assigned to the experimental (sexual) or one of three control (positive, neutral, stressful) conditions. Participants provided a second saliva sample 15 min post-activity. Results indicated that for women not using HCs, the sexual condition increased T compared to the stressful or positive conditions. In contrast, HC using women in the sexual condition had decreased T relative to the stressful condition and similar T to the positive condition. The effect was specific to T, as sexual thoughts did not change C. For participants in the sexual condition, higher baseline T predicted larger increases in sexual arousal but smaller increases in T, likely due to ceiling effects on T. Our results suggest that sexual thoughts change T but not C, baseline T levels and HC use may contribute to variation in the T response to sexual thoughts, and cognitive aspects of sexual arousal affect physiology.

-----------------------

Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love

Bianca Acevedo, Arthur Aron, Helen Fisher & Lucy Brown
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examined the neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ten women and 7 men married an average of 21.4 years underwent fMRI while viewing facial images of their partner. Control images included a highly familiar acquaintance; a close, long-term friend; and a low-familiar person. Effects specific to the intensely loved, long-term partner were found in: (i) areas of the dopamine-rich reward and basal ganglia system, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and dorsal striatum, consistent with results from early-stage romantic love studies; and (ii) several regions implicated in maternal attachment, such as the globus pallidus (GP), substantia nigra, Raphe nucleus, thalamus, insular cortex, anterior cingulate and posterior cingulate. Correlations of neural activity in regions of interest with widely used questionnaires showed: (i) VTA and caudate responses correlated with romantic love scores and inclusion of other in the self; (ii) GP responses correlated with friendship-based love scores; (iii) hypothalamus and posterior hippocampus responses correlated with sexual frequency; and (iv) caudate, septum/fornix, posterior cingulate and posterior hippocampus responses correlated with obsession. Overall, results suggest that for some individuals the reward-value associated with a long-term partner may be sustained, similar to new love, but also involves brain systems implicated in attachment and pair-bonding.

-----------------------

Sex Differences in Romantic Attachment: A Meta-Analysis

Marco Del Giudice
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, February 2011, Pages 193-214

Abstract:
This article presents the first meta-analysis of sex differences in the avoidance and anxiety dimensions of adult romantic attachment, based on 113 samples (N = 66,132) from 100 studies employing two-dimensional romantic attachment questionnaires (Experiences in Close Relationships, Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised, and Adult Attachment Questionnaire). Overall, males showed higher avoidance and lower anxiety than females, with substantial between-study heterogeneity. Sex differences were much larger in community samples (bivariate D = .28) than in college samples (D = .12); web-based studies showed the smallest sex differences (D = .07) in the opposite direction. Sex differences also varied across geographic regions (overall Ds = .10 to .34). Sex differences in anxiety peaked in young adulthood, whereas those in avoidance increased through the life course. The relevance of these findings for evolutionary models of romantic attachment is discussed, and possible factors leading to underestimation of sex differences are reviewed.

-----------------------

Marriages Are More Satisfying When Wives Are Thinner Than Their Husbands

Andrea Meltzer et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Body weight plays a significant role in attraction and relationship formation, but does it continue to shape more established relationships? The current 4-year longitudinal study of 169 newlywed couples addressed this question by examining the implications of own and partner body mass index (BMI) for the trajectory of marital satisfaction. In contrast to findings from studies of attraction and mate selection, own and partner BMI demonstrated inconsistent effects on the trajectory of satisfaction. However, consistent with predictions derived from interdependence theory, normative resource theories, and evolutionary perspectives, husbands were more satisfied initially and wives were more satisfied over time to the extent that wives had lower BMIs than their husbands, controlling for depression, income, education, and whether the relationship ended in divorce. These findings suggest that a dyadic perspective may be more appropriate than an individual one for understanding how partners' qualities shape established relationships such as marriage.

-----------------------

One Love: Explicit Monogamy Agreements among Heterosexual Young Adult Couples at Increased Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections

Jocelyn Warren, Marie Harvey & Christopher Agnew
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
HIV prevention strategies among couples include condom use, mutual monogamy, and HIV testing. Research suggests that condom use is more likely with new or casual partners, and tends to decline as relationships become steady over time. Little is known, however, about explicit mutual monogamy agreements and HIV testing within heterosexual couples. This study used data from 434 young heterosexual couples at increased risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to assess (a) couple concordance on perceptions of a monogamy agreement, sustained monogamy, and HIV testing; and (b) the associations of relationship and demographic factors with monogamy agreement, sustained monogamy, and HIV testing. Results indicated only slight to fair agreement within couples on measures of monogamy agreement and sustained monogamy. Overall, 227 couples (52%) concurred that they had an explicit agreement to be monogamous; of those, 162 (71%) had sustained the agreement. Couples with greater health protective communication and commitment were more likely to have a monogamy agreement. Couples of Latino and Hispanic ethnicity and those with children were less likely to have a monogamy agreement. Only commitment was related to sustained monogamy. Having children, greater health protective communication, and perceived vulnerability to HIV and STIs were associated with HIV testing within the couple.

-----------------------

Female sexual arousal: Genital anatomy and orgasm in intercourse

Kim Wallen & Elisabeth Lloyd
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In men and women sexual arousal culminates in orgasm, with female orgasm solely from sexual intercourse often regarded as a unique feature of human sexuality. However, orgasm from sexual intercourse occurs more reliably in men than in women likely reflecting the different types of physical stimulation men and women require for orgasm. In men, orgasms are under strong selective pressure as orgasms are coupled with ejaculation and thus contribute to male reproductive success. By contrast, women's orgasms in intercourse are highly variable and are under little selective pressure as they are not a reproductive necessity.. The proximal mechanisms producing variability in women's orgasms are little understood. In 1924 Marie Bonaparte proposed that a shorter distance between a woman's clitoris and her urethral meatus (CUMD) increased her likelihood of experiencing orgasm in intercourse. She based this on her published data which were never statistically analyzed. In 1940 Landis and colleagues published similar data suggesting the same relationship, but these data too were never fully analyzed. We analyzed raw data from these two studies and found that both demonstrate a strong inverse relationship between CUMD and orgasm during intercourse. Unresolved is whether this increased likelihood of orgasm with shorter CUMD reflects increased penile-clitoral contact during sexual intercourse or increased penile stimulation of internal aspects of the clitoris. CUMD likely reflects prenatal androgen exposure, with higher androgen levels producing larger distances. Thus these results suggest that women exposed to lower levels of prenatal androgens are more likely to experience orgasm during sexual intercourse.

-----------------------

Courtship, Competition, and the Pursuit of Attractiveness: Mating Goals Facilitate Health-Related Risk Taking and Strategic Risk Suppression in Women

Sarah Hill & Kristina Durante
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two experiments explored the possibility that specific health risks observed among young women may be influenced by attractiveness-enhancement goals associated with mating. Study 1 (n = 257) demonstrated that priming women with intersexual courtship and intrasexual competition increased their willingness to go tanning and take dangerous diet pills. Study 2 (n = 148) conceptually replicated these results and revealed that increased willingness to take these risks is mediated by diminished feelings of vulnerability to the negative health effects associated with these behaviors when mating goals are salient. Findings provide evidence that mating goals play a role in the continued popularity of these dangerous behaviors in women. Furthermore, the current results bridge the existing gap between health belief and self-presentational models of risk behaviors to yield novel insights into the psychology of risk taking.


Sign-in to your National Affairs subscriber account.


Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


subscribe

Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

SUBSCRIBE
Subscribe to National Affairs.