Hormonal birth control and jealousy. Dec 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

How the length of a man’s fingers can tell you how likely he is to commit, whether taking the contraceptive pill makes you more jealous, and the relationship between your postal code and the size of your boyfriend’s biceps.


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The effects of the pill on a woman's biology are obvious, but what does a daily dose of the oral contraceptive do for her psychology? Cobey and colleagues decided to investigate.

The articles covered in the show:

Schwarz, S., Mustafić, M., Hassebrauck, M., & Jörg, J. (in press). Short- and long-term relationship orientation and 2D:4D finger-length ratio. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Cobey, K. D., Pollet, T. V., Roberts, S. C., & Buunk, A. P. (2011). Hormonal birth control use and relationship jealousy: Evidence for estrogen dosage effects. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 315-317. Read summary

Snyder, J. K., Fessler, D. M. T., Tiokhin, L., Frederick, D. A., Woo Lee, S., & Navarrete, C. D. (in press). Trade-offs in a dangerous world: women's fear of crime predicts preferences for aggressive and formidable mate. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

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Pornography and politics. Nov 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

Can a GSOH snag you an STR? Are you more likely to be dumped after an affair with a man or a woman? And how does voting in an election turn you into a porn addict?


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When adult movie star Mary Carey stood for election as governor of California, it seemed more than a little bizarre (even when she lost to a cyborg bodybuilder). But new research by Markey and Markey shows that politics and porn might be more closely linked than even Carey had considered.

The articles covered in the show:

Kelley, T. C., & Hare, J. F. (2010). Pair-bonded humans conform to sexual stereotypes in web-based advertisements for extra-marital partners. Evolutionary Psychology, 8(3), 561-572. Read paper

Confer, J. C., & Cloud, M. D. (2011). Sex differences in response to imagining a partner’s heterosexual or homosexual affair. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 129-134. Read summary

Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2010). Changes in pornography-seeking behaviors following political elections: an examination of the challenge hypothesis. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(6), 442-446. Read summary

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Adolescence, breasts, masculinity, and sexual opportunism. Sept & Oct 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

How partner preferences develop as we move from adolescence to adulthood. We also find out when a woman is most likely to sleep with a stranger, discover how to go about designing the perfect partner, and learn whether big breasts are more popular in New Guinea or New Zealand.


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How do our partner preference evolve through adolescence? Tamsin Saxton reveals all in a new paper out this month.

The articles covered in the show:

Saxton, T. K., Kohoutova, D., Roberts, S. C., Jones, B. C., DeBruine, L. M., & Havlicek, J. (2010). Age, puberty and attractiveness judgments in adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(8), 857-862. Read summary

Gangestad, S. W., Thornhill, R., & Garver-Apgar, C. E. (2010a). Fertility in the cycle predicts women's interest in sexual opportunism. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(6), 400-411. Read summary

Gangestad, S. W., Thornhill, R., & Garver-Apgar, C. E. (2010b). Men's facial masculinity predicts changes in their female partners' sexual interests across the ovulatory cycle, whereas men's intelligence does not. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(6), 412-424. Read summary

Edlund, J. E., & Sagarin, B. J. (2010). Mate value and mate preferences: An investigation into decisions made with and without constraints. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(8), 835-839. Read summary

Dixson, B. J., Vasey, P. L., Sagata, K., Sibanda, N., Linklater, W. L., & Dixson, A. F. (In press). Men’s preferences for women’s breast morphology in New Zealand, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

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Red and black clothing boosts attractiveness. Aug 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010 Rob 1 Comments

Is it possible to tell whether someone is gay, straight or bi just by looking at them? We also find out once and for all which colour of clothing is the best for boosting beauty, and discover the surprising truth about attractiveness and self-esteem.


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The articles covered in the show:

Freeman, J. B., Johnson, K. L., Ambady, N., & Rule, N. O. (In press). Sexual orientation perception involves gendered facial cues. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read summary

Roberts, S. C., Owen, R. C., & Havlíček, J. (2010). Distinguishing between perceiver and wearer effects in clothing color-associated attributions. Evolutionary Psychology, 8(3), 350-364. Read article

Mares, S. H. W., de Leeuw, R. N. H., Scholte, R. H. J., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2010). Facial attractiveness and self-esteem in adolescence. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39(5), 627-637. Read summary

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I love you because you love me. July 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

Why the face is sometimes more important than the body, and why the body is sometimes more important than the face. Also, how being the object of another's affection boosts your own feelings of desire, and how your IQ influences the kind of partners you prefer.


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New research out this month shows that we find people attractive if they find US attractive.

The articles covered in the show:

Confer, J. C., Perilloux, C., & Buss, D. M. (In press). More than just a pretty face: men's priority shifts toward bodily attractiveness in short-term versus long-term mating contexts. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Stanik, C. E., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2010). Who cares about marrying a rich man? Intelligence and variation in women’s mate preferences. Human Nature, 21(2), 203-217. Read summary

Greitemeyer, T. (2010). Effects of reciprocity on attraction: The role of a partner's physical attractiveness. Personal Relationships, 17(2), 317-330. Read summary

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Do good-looking people get fair trials? June 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

Is justice really blind? Also, what damage to the brain teaches us about the perception of attractiveness, and why men fall in love more easily than women.


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"Blinded in the line of duty. His partners don't respect him. His wife lacks faith. Nobody believes in Jim Dunbar except himself." And now, perhaps, Ahola and colleagues.

The articles covered in the show:

Ahola, A. S., Hellström, Å., & Christianson, S. Å. (2010). Is justice really blind? Effects of crime descriptions, defendant gender and appearance, and legal practitioner gender on sentences and defendant evaluations in a mock trial. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 17(2), 304-324. Read summary

Carbon, C. C., Gruter, T., Grüter, M., Weber, J. E., & Lueschow, A. (2010). Dissociation of facial attractiveness and distinctiveness processing in congenital prosopagnosia. Visual Cognition, 18(5), 641-654. Read summary

Galperin, A., & Haselton, M. G. (2010). Predictors of how often and when people fall in love. Evolutionary Psychology, 8(1), 5-28. Read paper

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Do mate preferences change over time? May 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

Do mate preferences change over time? We also look at how women's perceptions of men are related to the age at which she reached puberty, and continue last month's look at the interesting phenomenon of mate choice copying.


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The articles covered in the show:

Kościński, K. (2010). Do they know what they like? Intra-individual variation of female facial preferences. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8(1), 23-55. Read summary

Belles, S., Kunde, W., & Neumann, R. (In press). Timing of sexual maturation and women's evaluation of men. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read summary

Place, S. S., Todd, P. M., Penke, L., & Asendorpf, J. B. (In press). Humans show mate copying after observing real mate choices. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

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Copying other people's mate choice. April 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

How stress can disrupt what we find attractive. We also look at why friends are similar in attractiveness, and whether it pays to save yourself the bother of choosing a partner and instead let someone else do the choosing for you.


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The articles covered in the show:

Lass-Hennemann, J., Deuter, C. E., Kuehl, L. K., Schulz, A., Blumenthal, T. D., & Schachinger, H. (In press). Effects of stress on human mating preferences: stressed individuals prefer dissimilar mates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. Read summary

Bleske-Rechek, A. L., & Lighthall, M. (In press). Attractiveness and rivalry in women's friendships with women. Human Nature. Read summary

Yorzinski, J. L., & Platt, M. L. (2010). Same-sex gaze attraction influences mate-choice copying in humans. PLoS One, 5(2), e9115. Read full paper for free

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IDing violent criminals from photos, with Tyler Stillman. March 2010

Monday, March 08, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

I speak to Tyler Stillman of Florida State University about whether we can identify violent criminals just by looking at their faces. We also find out whether electoral candidates who appear more powerful or trustworthy can expect more votes, and how a woman's menstrual cycle can affect her preferences for hairy men.


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Schwarzenegger's masculine looks probably did him no harm when it came to running for governor of California.

The articles covered in the show:

Rantala, M. J., Pölkki, M., & Rantala, L. M. (2010). Preference for human male body hair changes across the menstrual cycle and menopause. Behavioral Ecology, 21(2), 419-423. Read summary

Stillman, T. F., Maner, J. K., & Baumeister, R. F. (In press). A thin slice of violence: distinguishing violent from nonviolent sex offenders at a glance. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Rule, N. O., Arnbady, N., Adams, R. B., Ozono, H., Nakashima, S., Yoshikawa, S., et al. (2010). Polling the Face: Prediction and Consensus Across Cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(1), 1-15. Read summary

I talked this month about Francis Galton, pioneer physiognomist and creator of composite portraiture. That's when you combine two or more facial photos into a single image. His photography skills are pretty amazing when you consider that he was working 125 years ago and was able to come up with some convincing results.


Francis Galton's composites of violent criminals. The images on the top are the real criminals, and the ones on the bottom are composites.


The image above shows images of Gordon Brown (a), that have been composited using Galton's method (b) and the modern method (c). In Galton's method, the images are rotated and scaled so that the eyes lie on top of each other before being combined. In the modern, computerised method, the locations of over 150 points are averaged before the images are combined. This gives a much clearer image. Galton's more primitive method could explain why he failed to find a 'criminal type', or it could just be because criminals don't look that different to everybody else.

Physiognomy is currently undergoing a resurgence, although most researchers study whether attractiveness, or personality traits such as trustworthiness, can be detected from faces. Perhaps because physiognomy is so closely associated with Galton, who founded eugenics and held typically 19th century views on race, attempts to extend study into areas such as criminality are often met with some resistance.

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The golden ratio and beauty. Feb 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010 Rob 0 Comments

Is there a universal 'golden ratio' that explains facial attractiveness? We also discover how the behaviours people use to keep their partner from leaving them change over time, and whether waitresses who wear makeup can expect larger tips.


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Angelina Jolie doesn't quite fit the golden ratio beauty mask, but who cares? She is chuffing gorgeous.

The articles covered in the show:

Pallett, P. M., Link, S., & Lee, K. (2010). New "golden" ratios for facial beauty. Vision Research, 50(2), 149-154. Read summary

Kaighobadi, F., Shackelford, T. K., & Buss, D. M. (2010). Spousal mate retention in the newlywed year and three years later. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(4), 414-418. Read summary

Jacob, C., Guéguen, N., Boulbry, G., & Ardiccioni, R. (2010). Waitresses' facial cosmetics and tipping: A field experiment. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 29(1), 188-190. Read summary

To show you the kind of manipulation Pallett applied to her images in her study of optimal ratios for facial attractiveness, I knocked up a couple of examples using everybody's favourite romcom 'actor', Matthew McConnawhatever.


Matthew McConaughey with his eye-mouth to face-height ratio altered. The image in the middle is the real one, with Matthew's .38 ratio close to the average of .36.


Matthew McConaughey with his eye-eye to face-width ratio altered. This time his real ratio is .47, almost dead on the average of .46.

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