bims-chumac Biomed News
on Context effects on human mate choice
Issue of 2020‒04‒26
three papers selected by
Jay Dixit

  1. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2020 Jun 08. 375(1800): 20190260
    Havlíček J, Winternitz J, Roberts SC.
      The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a core part of the adaptive immune system. As in other vertebrate taxa, it may also affect human chemical communication via odour-based mate preferences, with greater attraction towards MHC-dissimilar partners. However, despite some well-known findings, the available evidence is equivocal and made complicated by varied approaches to quantifying human mate choice. To address this, we here conduct comprehensive meta-analyses focusing on studies assessing: (i) genomic mate selection, (ii) relationship satisfaction, (iii) odour preference, and (iv) all studies combined. Analysis of genomic studies reveals no association between MHC-dissimilarity and mate choice in actual couples; however, MHC effects appear to be independent of the genomic background. The effect of MHC-dissimilarity on relationship satisfaction was not significant, and we found evidence for publication bias in studies on this area. There was also no significant association between MHC-dissimilarity and odour preferences. Finally, combining effect sizes from all genomic, relationship satisfaction, odour preference and previous mate choice studies into an overall estimate showed no overall significant effect of MHC-similarity on human mate selection. Based on these findings, we make a set of recommendations for future studies, focusing both on aspects that should be implemented immediately and those that lurk on the far horizon. We need larger samples with greater geographical and cultural diversity that control for genome-wide similarity. We also need more focus on mechanisms of MHC-associated odour preferences and on MHC-associated pregnancy loss. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue 'Olfactory communication in humans'.
    Keywords:  HLA; attractiveness; body odour; complementary genes; inbreeding; sexual selection
  2. Scand J Psychol. 2020 Apr 20.
    Constant E, Leuchtmann L, Christophe V, Bodenmann G, Gabrielli F, Ott L, Nandrino JL.
      This study explored self-regulatory efforts during the viewing of couple interactions and their association with relationship satisfaction. High-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV) was measured for each participant during a video recall of a recent couple interaction to quantify the self-regulatory processes governed by parasympathetic activity. Among 30 couples, HF-HRV was measured continuously during three specific periods to explore its change over time using a video-recall procedure: (1) resting state; (2) viewing of couple interactions (expressing daily life situations and conflictual interactions); and (3) recovery. Results of multilevel models revealed a u-shaped pattern of HF-HRV responses for men and women across the three periods with a nadir at the midway through the process. This pattern of physiological change (vagal suppression) reflects a flexible response to a stressful situation. Nevertheless, the pattern of physiological responses varied according to the level of relationship satisfaction. Men who were more satisfied in their couple relationship presented greater vagal suppression than dissatisfied men. In contrast, no significant HF-HRV changes were found in women over the different periods of the video-recall procedure and no moderating effect of relationship satisfaction. We discuss the different patterns of physiological responses observed both for men and women in terms of interindividual variability according to the level of their relationship satisfaction. The present study highlights the important role of relationship satisfaction in regulatory processes.
    Keywords:  Couple interaction; couples; psychophysiology; relationship satisfaction; self-regulatory efforts
  3. J Fam Psychol. 2020 Apr 20.
    Turner JA, McNulty JK.
      Automatic partner attitudes can be conceptualized as associations stored in memory between a partner and one's evaluation of that partner that are spontaneously activated upon thoughts of or encounters with the partner. Although more negative automatic partner attitudes have been shown to predict worse relationship outcomes over extended periods of time, it is less clear how such attitudes are related to personal and relationship well-being on a daily basis. Using a sample of newlywed couples, we assessed automatic partner attitudes implicitly and then assessed relationship evaluations, positive mood, and negative mood every day for 14 days. On average, more negative automatic partner attitudes were associated with more negative and less positive daily mood but unrelated to daily relationship evaluations. Nevertheless, the association between automatic partner attitudes and daily relationship evaluations was moderated by relationship length, such that more negative automatic partner attitudes were associated with more negative daily relationship evaluations among people in longer relationships, but with more positive daily relationship evaluations among people in shorter relationships. These findings suggest that people experience evaluative feelings activated by their partners as mood on a daily basis and, as the relationship lengthens, they may learn to use this affect to evaluate their relationships. The latter possibility may help explain why automatic partner attitudes predict relationship outcomes over time and suggests that effectively maintaining positive relationship evaluations requires cognitive and behavioral strategies that minimize negative associations involving the partner. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).