Sex ratio influences the motivational salience of facial attractiveness

Hahn, A. C. , Fisher, C. I., DeBruine, L. and Jones, B. C. (2014) Sex ratio influences the motivational salience of facial attractiveness. Biology Letters, 10(6), p. 20140148. (doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0148)

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The sex ratio of the local population influences mating-related behaviours in many species. Recent experiments show that male-biased sex ratios increase the amount of financial resources men will invest in potential mates, suggesting that sex ratios influence allocation of mating effort in humans. To investigate this issue further, we tested for effects of cues to the sex ratio of the local population on the motivational salience of attractiveness in own-sex and opposite-sex faces. We did this using an effort-based key-press task, in which the motivational salience of facial attractiveness was assessed in samples of faces in which the ratio of male to female images was manipulated. The motivational salience of attractive opposite-sex, but not own-sex, faces was greater in the own-sex-biased (high competition for mates) than in the opposite-sex-biased (low competition for mates) condition. Moreover, this effect was not modulated by participant sex. These results present new evidence that sex ratio influences human mating-related behaviours. They also present the first evidence that the perceived sex ratio of the local population may modulate allocation of mating effort in women, as well as men.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hahn, Dr Amanda and DeBruine, Professor Lisa and Jones, Professor Benedict and Fisher, Dr Claire
Authors: Hahn, A. C., Fisher, C. I., DeBruine, L., and Jones, B. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Biology Letters
Publisher:The Royal Society Publishing
ISSN (Online):1744-957X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Biology Letters 10(6):20140148
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
604381OCMATE: Do oral contraceptives alter women's mate preferences?Benedict JonesEuropean Research Council (ERC)OCMATE FP7ERC28RI NEUROSCIENCE & PSYCHOLOGY