Cold to the Touch

Kevin Lewis

May 22, 2022

Altruism does not predict mating success in humans: A direct replication
Lili Judd, Jessica Mills & Mark Allen
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Altruistic behavior is predicted to be a costly signal that benefits an individual in terms of reproductive success. This study sought to directly replicate a previous investigation that demonstrated a positive association between altruism and indices of mating success (Arnocky et al., 2017). Participants (n = 445; 329 women, 116 men; Mage = 22.9 years) completed measures of altruism, personality, self-reported mating success, lifetime sexual partners, lifetime casual sex partners, and frequency of copulation with their current sexual partner. Linear regression models demonstrated that, across models both including and excluding the covariates of age and personality, altruism was unrelated to self-reported mating success, lifetime sexual partners, casual sexual partners, and frequency of copulation. Findings remained unchanged in sensitivity analyses with nonheterosexual participants removed from the sample and with data transformed to remove skewness. Overall, the findings are inconsistent with those of the original study and provide evidence that altruism does not predict mating success in humans. Further research is needed that tests for cross-cultural variation to determine whether altruism has a role in mating success across world regions. 

Breath chemical markers of sexual arousal in humans
Nijing Wang et al.
Scientific Reports, April 2022

The chemical composition of exhaled breath was examined for volatile organic compound (VOC) indicators of sexual arousal in human beings. Participants (12-male, 12-female) were shown a randomized series of three emotion-inducing 10-min film clips interspersed with 3-min neutral film clips. The films caused different arousals: sports film (positive-nonsexual); horror film (negative-nonsexual); and erotic (sexual) that were monitored with physiological measurements including genital response and temperature. Simultaneously the breath was monitored for VOC and CO2. While some breath compounds (methanol and acetone) changed uniformly irrespective of the film order, several compounds did show significant arousal associated changes. For both genders CO2 and isoprene decreased in the sex clip. Some male individuals showed particularly strong increases of indole, phenol and cresol coincident with sexual arousal that decreased rapidly afterwards. These VOCs are degradation products of tyrosine and tryptophan, precursors for dopamine, noradrenalin, and serotonin, and therefore represent potential breath markers of sexual arousal. 

The college admissions contribution to the labor market beauty premium
David Ong
Contemporary Economic Policy, July 2022, Pages 491-512

We investigate the contribution of college admissions to the labor market beauty premium. We sampled 1800 social media profiles of students from universities ranked from 1 to 200 in China and the US. Chinese universities use standardized test scores for admissions. US universities use also extracurricular activities. Consistent with beauty-blind admissions, alumni's beauty is uncorrelated with the rank of the school they attended in China. In the US, White men who attended high-ranked schools are better looking, especially attendees of private schools. A one percentage point increase in beauty rank corresponds to a half-point increase in the school rank. 

Effects of Hurricane Harvey on trajectories of hostile conflict among newlywed couples
Julia Hammett, Benjamin Karney & Thomas Bradbury
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Natural disasters have been purported to increase, and decrease, hostile conflict in intimate relationships, but heavy reliance on retrospective designs prohibits strong tests of these contrasting perspectives. The present study aims to resolve this ambiguity using a sample of newlywed couples from Houston, Texas who reported their levels of hostile conflict three times before and three times after experiencing Hurricane Harvey. Latent growth curve piecewise regression models showed that robust declines in conflict prior to the hurricane were slowed after the hurricane hit, such that posthurricane conflict slopes flattened and became nonsignificant. Thus, by disrupting natural declines in conflict that occur in the early years of marriage, Hurricane Harvey appears to have been detrimental for couples. Factors examined in relation to hostile conflict (including personality traits, adverse childhood events, stress, and relationship satisfaction) were similar in their predictive power prior to and following the hurricane, suggesting that the hurricane did not markedly alter which couples were most prone to hostile interactions. Implications for understanding relationships in the context of natural disasters are outlined. 

Toupee or Not Toupee?: Cranial Hair and Perceptions of Men’s Attractiveness, Personality, and Other Evolutionary Relevant Traits
Joel Wade, Maryanne Fisher & Rebecca Burch
Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2022, Pages 196–207

The question of whether or not cranial hair affects perceptions of attractiveness, personality, career success, and other traits related to fitness for men in two populations was investigated in two experiments. Experiment 1 used a 2 (race) × 2 (cranial hair of man) design, and examined attractiveness, fitness, and socially desirable personality measures. Experiment 2 used a 2 (race) × 2 (cranial hair) design to determine perceived attractiveness, fitness-related traits, and the Big-5 dimensions of personality. Amount of cranial hair did not affect personality ratings on the dimensions of the Big-5 but did affect perceived socially desired aspects of personality (such as warmth, sophistication, kindness, etc.). In Experiment 1, the White man with hair received higher perceived attractiveness, personality, and fitness ratings than the bald White man, while no differences occurred for the Black men. For Experiment 2, when differences for amount of cranial hair occurred, the White man with hair and the Black man without hair received higher perceived fitness and career success ratings. These results are discussed in terms of prior research on male cranial hair.


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