Ladies and gentlemen

Kevin Lewis

October 21, 2017

Marriage, Choice, and Couplehood in the Age of the Internet
Michael Rosenfeld
Sociological Science, September 2017


How do the Internet and social media technology affect our romantic lives? Critics of the Internet’s effect on social life identify the overabundance of choice of potential partners online as a likely source of relationship instability. This study examines longitudinal data showing that meeting online does not predict couple breakup. Meeting online (and particularly meeting through online dating websites) predicts faster transitions to marriage for heterosexual couples. I do not claim to measure any causal effect of Internet technology on relationship longevity or marriage formation. Rather, I suggest that the data are more consistent with a positive or neutral association between Internet technology and relationships than with a negative association between the Internet and romantic relationships.

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? Serial Infidelity Across Subsequent Relationships
Kayla Knopp et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming


Although there is a large body of research addressing predictors of relationship infidelity, no study to our knowledge has specifically addressed infidelity in a previous relationship as a risk factor for infidelity in a subsequent relationship. The current study addressed risk for serial infidelity by following adult participants (N = 484) longitudinally through two mixed-gender romantic relationships. Participants reported their own extra-dyadic sexual involvement (ESI) (i.e., having sexual relations with someone other than their partner) as well as both known and suspected ESI on the part of their partners in each romantic relationship. Findings from logistic regressions showed that those who reported engaging in ESI in the first relationship were three times more likely to report engaging in ESI in their next relationship compared to those who did not report engaging in ESI in the first relationship. Similarly, compared to those who reported that their first-relationship partners did not engage in ESI, those who knew that their partners in the first relationships had engaged in ESI were twice as likely to report the same behavior from their next relationship partners. Those who suspected their first-relationship partners of ESI were four times more likely to report suspicion of partner ESI again in their next relationships. These findings controlled for demographic risk factors for infidelity and held regardless of respondent gender or marital status. Thus, prior infidelity emerged as an important risk factor for infidelity in next relationships. Implications for novel intervention targets for prevention of serial relationship infidelity are discussed.

Put a (Limbal) Ring on It: Women Perceive Men’s Limbal Rings as a Health Cue in Short-Term Mating Domains
Mitch Brown & Donald Sacco
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


Limbal rings are dark annuli encircling the iris that fluctuate in visibility based on health and age. Research also indicates their presence augments facial attractiveness. Given individuals’ prioritization of health cues in short-term mates, those with limbal rings may be implicated as ideal short-term mates. Three studies tested whether limbal rings serve as veridical health cues, specifically the extent to which this cue enhances a person’s value as a short-term mating partner. In Study 1, targets with limbal rings were rated as healthier, an effect that was stronger for female participants and male targets. In Study 2, temporally activated short-term mating motives led women to report a heightened preference for targets with limbal rings. In Study 3, women rated targets with limbal rings as more desirable short-term mates. Results provide evidence for limbal rings as veridical cues to health, particularly in relevant mating domains.

Gossip as an Intrasexual Competition Strategy: Sex Differences in Gossip Frequency, Content, and Attitudes
Adam Davis et al.
Evolutionary Psychological Science, forthcoming


From an evolutionary perspective, gossip has been considered a putative intrasexual competition strategy that is used to vie for mates and resources linked to reproductive success. To date, no study has directly examined the relations between intrasexual competitiveness, reported tendency to gossip, and attitudes toward gossiping. Limited empirical work has also focused on whether gossip frequency, gossip content, and gossip attitudes correspond to women’s and men’s divergent intrasexual competition strategies and evolved mating preferences. In a sample of 290 heterosexual young adults, we found that intrasexual competition positively predicted reported gossip frequency and favorable attitudes toward gossiping. Additionally, women reported a greater tendency to gossip in comparison to men, particularly about physical appearance and social information, whereas men reported gossiping more about achievement. Women also reported greater enjoyment of, and perceived more value in, gossiping than men. Collectively, these findings provide empirical support for the hypothesis that gossip is an intrasexual competition tactic that, by and large, corresponds to women’s and men’s evolved mate preferences and differential mate competition strategies.

The wandering eye perceives more threats: Projection of attraction to alternative partners predicts anger and negative behavior in romantic relationships
Angela Neal & Edward Lemay
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming


The current study tested the predictions that (a) people project their own attraction to alternative romantic or sexual partners onto their romantic partners and (b) this projection shapes anger and negative behavior toward romantic partners. These predictions were supported in a dyadic daily experiences study of 96 heterosexual romantic couples. Participants’ self-reported attraction to alternative partners predicted perceptions of the partner’s interest independently of, and more strongly than, the partner’s own self-reported attraction, suggesting that participants projected their own extradyadic attraction onto their partners. Furthermore, this projection predicted perceivers’ own anger and negative behaviors directed at their partners more strongly than did the partner’s self-reported attraction. Results suggest that participants were angry and antagonistic when they thought their partners were interested in alternative partners, but that this suspicion was a projection of their own attraction to alternatives more than it was an accurate reflection of their partner’s attraction. Results suggest that projection of extradyadic attraction has an important influence on relationship quality and may exacerbate the negative relationship consequences of attraction to alternative partners.

Differences in Neural Response to Romantic Stimuli in Monogamous and Non-Monogamous Men
Lisa Dawn Hamilton & Cindy Meston
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming


In non-human animal research, studies comparing socially monogamous and promiscuous species of voles (Microtus) have identified some key neural differences related to monogamy and non-monogamy. Specifically, densities of the vasopressin V1a receptor and dopamine D2 receptors in subcortical reward-related and limbic areas of the brain have been linked to monogamous behavior in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Similar brain areas have been shown to be correlated with feelings of romantic love in monogamously pair-bonded humans. Humans vary in the degree to which they engage in (non-)monogamous behaviors. The present study examined the differences in neural activation in response to sexual and romantic stimuli in monogamous (n = 10) and non-monogamous (n = 10) men. Results indicated that monogamous men showed more reward-related neural activity when viewing romantic pictures compared to non-monogamous men. Areas with increased activation for monogamous men were all in the right hemisphere and included the thalamus, accumbens, striatum, pallidum, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex. There were no significant differences between groups in activation to sexual stimuli. These results demonstrate that the neural processing of romantic images is different for monogamous and non-monogamous men. There is some overlap in the neural areas showing increased activation in monogamous men in the present study and the neural areas that show differences in the vole models of monogamy and affiliation. Future research will be needed to clarify whether similar factors are contributing to the neural differences seen in monogamous and non-monogamous humans and voles.

Facial Contrast Is a Cross-Cultural Cue for Perceiving Age
Aurélie Porcheron et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, July 2017


Age is a fundamental social dimension and a youthful appearance is of importance for many individuals, perhaps because it is a relevant predictor of aspects of health, facial attractiveness and general well-being. We recently showed that facial contrast—the color and luminance difference between facial features and the surrounding skin—is age-related and a cue to age perception of Caucasian women. Specifically, aspects of facial contrast decrease with age in Caucasian women, and Caucasian female faces with higher contrast look younger (Porcheron et al., 2013). Here we investigated faces of other ethnic groups and raters of other cultures to see whether facial contrast is a cross-cultural youth-related attribute. Using large sets of full face color photographs of Chinese, Latin American and black South African women aged 20–80, we measured the luminance and color contrast between the facial features (the eyes, the lips, and the brows) and the surrounding skin. Most aspects of facial contrast that were previously found to decrease with age in Caucasian women were also found to decrease with age in the other ethnic groups. Though the overall pattern of changes with age was common to all women, there were also some differences between the groups. In a separate study, individual faces of the 4 ethnic groups were perceived younger by French and Chinese participants when the aspects of facial contrast that vary with age in the majority of faces were artificially increased, but older when they were artificially decreased. Altogether these findings indicate that facial contrast is a cross-cultural cue to youthfulness. Because cosmetics were shown to enhance facial contrast, this work provides some support for the notion that a universal function of cosmetics is to make female faces look younger.


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