Effects of Partner Beauty on Opposite-Sex Attractiveness Judgments



Little A, Caldwell CA, Jones BC & DeBruine LM (2011) Effects of Partner Beauty on Opposite-Sex Attractiveness Judgments. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40 (6), pp. 1119-1127.

Many studies showmate choice copying effects on mate preferences in non-human species in which individuals followor copy themate choices of same-sex conspecifics. Recent studies suggest that social learning also influences mate preferences in humans. Studies on heterosexual humans have focused on rating the attractiveness of potentialmates (targets) presented alongside individuals of the opposite sex to the target (models). Here, we examined several different types of pairing to examine howspecific social learning is tomate preferences. InStudy 1,we replicated a previous effect whereby target faces of the opposite sex to the subject were rated as more attractive when paired with attractive than unattractive partnermodels of the same sex as the subject. Using the same paired stimuli, Study 2 demonstrated no effect of a pairedmodel if subjects were asked to rate targets who were the same sex as themselves. In Study 3, we used pairs of the same sex, stating the pair were friends, and subjects rated targets of the opposite sex to themselves. Attractive models decreased targets' attractiveness, opposite to the effect in Study 1. Finally, Study 4 examined if attractive versus unattractive non-face stimulimight influence attraction. Unlike in Study 1, pairingwith attractive stimuli either had no effect or decreased the attractiveness of paired target face images. These data suggest that social transmission of preferences via pairing with attractive/unattractive images is relatively specific to learning about mate preferences but does not influence attractiveness judgments more generally.

Social transmission; Facial attractiveness; Mate choice copying; Learning; Beauty

Archives of Sexual Behavior: Volume 40, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2011

People (1)


Professor Christine Anna Caldwell

Professor Christine Anna Caldwell

Professor & Deputy Dean of Faculty, Psychology