Merged minds: Generalized shared reality in dyadic relationships
Maya Rossignac-Milon et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming
Many everyday conversations, whether between close partners or strangers interacting for the first time, are about the world external to their relationship, such as music, food, or current events. Yet, the focus of most research on interpersonal relationships to date has been on the ways in which partners perceive each other and their relationship. We propose that one critical aspect of interpersonal interactions is developing a sense of dyadic, generalized shared reality - the subjective experience of sharing a set of inner states (e.g., thoughts, feelings, or beliefs) in common with a particular interaction partner about the world in general, including the world external to the relationship. Across 9 studies, we use mixed methods to investigate the unique role of generalized shared reality in interpersonal interactions, both between close partners and strangers. We hypothesize that generalized shared reality predicts how people connect with each other and perceive the world around them. We also investigate the observable, dyadic behavioral signatures of generalized shared reality in interpersonal interactions. Finally, we examine the motivation to uphold an existing sense of generalized shared reality. We hypothesize that couples high on baseline generalized shared reality exhibit motivated, dyadic interaction behaviors to reaffirm their generalized shared reality in the face of experimentally manipulated threat. By identifying a unique dimension of everyday interactions, these studies aim to capture a critical aspect of the lived subjective experience of human relationships that has not been captured before.
Fertility as a cue for attractiveness in homo- and heterosexual men
Robin Rinn et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming
According to the sexual strategy theory (SST), men pursue short-term mating strategies to enhance their reproductive fitness. To do so, heterosexual men search for women who signal high reproductive value through multiple fertility cues. We hypothesize that, due to an interplay of mating strategies derived from a person's biological sex and the sexual orientation of a person (which develops independently of biological sex), not only heterosexual but also homosexual men should find high fertility more attractive in others. Accordingly, in Study 1 (N = 124), we found that hetero- as well as homosexual men rated the physical attractiveness of a female stimulus person to be greater when she was portrayed to be of high (versus low) fertility. Interestingly, in Study 2 (N = 224), we found that only homosexual-, but not heterosexual men perceived a male stimulus to be less attractive when information was provided that pointed at his low (versus high) fertility and when no information was given. We discuss these findings against the background of evolved adaptive mating motives in humans. Overall, the present results indicate that fertility appears to be an important cue for perceived physical attractiveness for both hetero- and homosexual men.
Negligible evidence that people desire partners who uniquely fit their ideals
Jehan Sparks et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming
Laypersons and scholars often presume that people positively evaluate partners who match their ideal partner preferences: If Faye prefers kindness in a partner and Sonia prefers ambition, Faye should be especially attracted to kind partners and Sonia should be especially attracted to ambitious ones. However, to date, most published tests of this idea are imprecise and permit multiple interpretations of the data. The current studies improve upon prior tests by (a) having participants self-generate the ideal attributes that matter most to them and (b) using a yoked design to isolate the predictive power of self-generated (vs. other-generated) ideal attributes. Overall, participants were more romantically interested in blind-date partners (Study 1) and acquaintances/friends/romantic partners (Study 2) to the extent that they thought those individuals possessed the ideal attributes. But the positive association of these attributes with romantic interest was identical regardless of whether the attributes represented the participant's self-generated ideals or someone else's ideals. We also used a novel coding scheme to organize participants' 1011 self-generated ideal attributes into 95 different attribute-categories; we then implemented three exclusion strategies (that differed in breadth vs. precision) using this scheme in order to maximize idiosyncratic variability between self- and other-generated ideals. All approaches revealed identical conclusions. Focused tests of ideal partner preference-matching may reveal that individual differences in ideal partner preferences poorly correspond to the attributes that uniquely inspire romantic interest.
Are Couples More Satisfied When They Match in Sexual Desire?: New Insights From Response Surface Analyses
James Kim et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming
While sexual frequency and satisfaction are strong contributors to the quality and longevity of romantic relationships and overall well-being, mismatches in sexual desire between partners are common and have been linked with poorer satisfaction. Previous findings linking mismatches in desire with poorer relationship and sexual outcomes have typically been derived using difference scores, an approach that does not account for partners' overall levels of desire. In a sample of 366 couples, we investigated whether partners who match in desire are more satisfied than desire-discrepant couples. Results of dyadic response surface analyses provided no support for a unique matching effect. Higher desire rather than matching in desire between partners predicted relationship and sexual satisfaction. These findings shed new light on whether the correspondence between partners' levels of sexual desire is associated with satisfaction and suggest the need to focus on sustaining desire and successfully navigating differences rather than promoting matching in desire.