bims-chumac Biomed News
on Context effects on human mate choice
Issue of 2019‒11‒24
three papers selected by
Jay Dixit

  1. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019 Oct 21. pii: S0306-4530(19)30557-8. [Epub ahead of print] 104483
    Xu L, Becker B, Luo R, Zheng X, Zhao W, Zhang Q, Kendrick KM.
      Infidelity is the major cause of breakups and individuals with a history of infidelity are more likely to repeat it, but may also present a greater opportunity for short-term sexual relationships. Here in a pre-registered, double-blind study involving 160 subjects we report that while both sexes valued faithful individuals most for short-term and long-term relationships, both single men and those in a relationship were more interested in having short-term relationships with previously unfaithful individuals than women. Oxytocin administration resulted in men rating the faces of unfaithful women as more attractive and likeable but in women rating those of unfaithful men as less attractive and also finding them less memorable. Oxytocin also increased single men's interest in having short-term relationships with previously unfaithful women whereas it increased single women's interest in having long-term relationships with faithful men. Thus, oxytocin release during courtship may first act to amplify sex-dependent priorities in attraction and mate choice before subsequently promoting romantic bonds.
    Keywords:  Attraction; Infidelity; Mate choice; Oxytocin; Sex difference
  2. J Exp Psychol Appl. 2019 Nov 21.
    Pontes N, Hoegg J.
      The present research addresses the question of how the color red affects married women's evaluations of male attractiveness. Three studies demonstrate a red-derogation effect for married women's judgments such that men are perceived to be less attractive and less sexually desirable when their profiles are displayed on a red versus a white background. We show that married (vs. single) women perceive the color red as a threat cue which, in turn, evokes avoidance tendencies. Our studies indicated that married (vs. single) women became more risk averse (Study 2) and were more likely to recall words related to relationship commitment and threat after exposure to an attractive male presented on a red (vs. white) background (Study 3). Further, we show that the red-derogation effect is moderated by the level of cognitive resources. When married women were cognitively depleted, the effect of color was mitigated. Overall the findings demonstrate that a subtle peripheral cue (e.g., red color) is sufficient to identify an attractive other as a threat, which activates a defensive strategy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
  3. J Gen Psychol. 2019 Nov 22. 1-16
    Zhao S, Zhang J.
      BACKGROUND: Social Reference Theory is relatively new in explaining and predicting social behaviors. Sophisticated empirical observations are needed to support and refine the theory. The theory proposes that (1) Any perception must be understood in the context of a reference; (2) without a reference, no perception exists; (3) changing the reference can change a person's perception; and (4) the reason different parties disagree on an issue is that they have difference references.AIM: This current study was to provide evidence for the Social Reference Theory with a focus on the third of the four propositions: changing the reference can change a person's perception.
    METHOD: A large sample of undergraduate students were randomly selected from a Chinese university and asked to participate in an online quasi-experimental survey to study the effect of changing a reference on subjects' evaluation of physical attractiveness. Subjects were asked to rate the attractiveness of an average-looking woman or man presented in the context of other photographs of either more attractive or less attractive women or men.
    FINDINGS: These college students' perception of the targets' physical attractiveness were altered by a change of reference: an average image was rated high if the reference image was less attractive, and the same image was rated low if the reference was very attractive. Additionally, female respondents were more likely to be influenced by change of the reference than male respondents.
    CONCLUSIONS: This study provided evidence for the proposition that changing the reference can change a person's perception.
    Keywords:  Contexts; Perception; Physical attractiveness; Reference; Social Reference Theory