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thegrandnarrative : sexual-attraction   10

Sex and Physiological Cycles Affect the Automatic Perception of Attractive Opposite-Sex Faces: A Visual Mismatch Negativity Study - Shu Zhang, Hailing Wang, Qingke Guo, 2018
General Discussion

Although the detection of attractive face has been investigated, the brain mechanism of attractive facial perception in females with different physiological cycles and males is unclear. The central aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism of attractiveness perception under unattended condition with a modified cross-modal delayed response paradigm. In the two experiments, the attractiveness vMMN could be obtained for all groups but occurred in different time courses for different groups.

Overall speaking, the pronounced attractiveness vMMN on posterior scalp distribution (posterior-occipital and occipital areas) demonstrated that all participants can visually detect attractive faces automatically in the context of unattractive face stimuli. From an evolutionary perspective, perception of attractiveness serves as the adaptation result for seeking mate with good quality. As we know, facial attractiveness is a reliable cue of the owner’s biological quality and mate value because attractive people have better parasite resistance, physical and reproductive fitness, longevity, less mutational load, higher intelligence, and better mental health. Thus, people with the capacity of automatically perceive high-attractive opposite-sex face have good chances to get erotic access to an opposite sex and thereby to increase their reproductive success. Based on the adaptation-oriented explanation, it posits that this automatic perception of attractive faces is an evolutionary adaptation and the result of natural selection.

Specially, we found that the amplitude of vMMN in males was much larger than FMs in Study 1 but similar as FOs in Study 2. Previous studies found that males in short bond prefer females with fertility characteristics, while males in the long bond prefer females with high reproductive value (Buss & Barnes, 2015; Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Hooff et al., 2011; Young, Critelli, & Keith, 2005). Both fertility and reproductive value can be reflected in females’ faces. Taken together, the results indicated that attractiveness is of the most importance for males in many mate choice criteria, no matter in long bond and the short bond. Good genes theory holds that attractive face is considered the symbol of healthy genes, sound immunity, and reproductive advantage, hinting more successful reproduction (Rhodes, 2006). Therefore, males may have the capacity of automatic attractiveness perception and have larger ERP effects produced by female face. Otherwise, the face that, the amplitude of N170 in males for attractive female faces was larger than unattractive female faces, can also support this, which is consistent with other studies (Lu, Wang, Wang, Wang, & Qin, 2014; Marzi & Viggiano, 2010; Zhang & Deng, 2012).

In consistent with other studies, we found that males and females showed differences in the preferences for highly attractive opposite-sex faces: FOs and males were similar but FMs are different (Aharon et al., 2001; Choi et al., 2015; Cloutier et al., 2008; Iaria et al., 2008; Ishai, 2007; Kranz & Ishai, 2006; Penton-Voak et al., 2004; Senior, 2003). More importantly, the amplitude of vMMN in FOs was as big as the males, but much larger than the FMs. These findings indicated the automatic perception of high-attractive opposite-sex faces in FOs may be underpinned by the breeding motivation. It can be explained in two ways. First, as FOs can realize their own genetic inheritance and are driven by a strong motivation for breeding, they have more intense incentives to pursue and attract sexual partners in order to have higher quality offspring. Under the motivation of breeding, ovulating females will conduct more frequent sexual behaviors, and even seek short-term sexual partners, so that they tend to invest more psychological resources in case of the opposite sex with high attractiveness (Gueguen, 2009; Röder, Brewer, & Fink, 2009). Therefore, FOs prefer highly attractive male faces (which signal good genes), which is similar to males (Gangestad, Thornhill, & Garver-Apgar, 2005; Johnston, Hagel, Franklin, Fink, & Grammer, 2001; Little, Jones, Burt, et al., 2007; Little, Jones, Pentonvoak, Burt, & Perrett, 2002). That is why the amplitude of vMMN in FOs was similar as the males. Second, the amplitude of vMMN in FOs is much larger than FMs, reflecting that FOs may be more interested in high-attractive male faces than FMs. The possible explanation is that the opposite-sex facial preferences in females are related to the menstrual cycle and based on the breeding motivation. FOs are more likely to have higher levels of sexual arousal than FMs. So that they tend to be more sensitive to male’s facial feature (Gangestad & Thornhill, 1998; Little, Jones, Burt, et al., 2007), even considered the masculine and symmetrical males were more attractive (Little, Jones, & Debruine, 2008; Penton-Voak et al., 2003; Welling et al., 2007). By comparison, the amplitude of vMMN in FMs is the smallest of all groups, so the vMMN of attractive opposite-sex faces in FMs is less automated. This indicated that the reproductive motivation is weak in this stage, and the perception of the attractive opposite-sex faces has a small effect on mate selection. Therefore, from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, females in the high fertile period (the ovulatory period) would pay more attention to the high genetic quality represented by the attractive opposite-sex face, in contrast, females in the low fertile period (the menstrual period) are interested in characteristics indicating parental investment.

Another interesting phenomenon was that the vMMN of FOs appears latest compared with the males and FMs in both the experiments, which was related to FOs’ other proliferation motivation—the motivation to avoid being tainted by genes, a danger that is most significant only in ovulation period. In this period, females are most likely to have their genes contaminated in the whole reproductive process (Navarrete, Fessler, Fleischman, & Geyer, 2009). And they may also be confronted with huge personal costs in the case of forced pregnancies (Garverapgar, Gangestad, & Simpson, 2007; Thornhill & Palmer, 2000). Under this motivation, they would prudently overestimate the opposite sex as a sexual aggressor regardless of wrong judgment and even dodge out-group to avoid the risk of being sexually assaulted (Mcdonald, Asher, Kerr, & Navarrete, 2011; Navarrete et al., 2009). This motivation can also be supported by the face-sensitive component N170, which showed differences between FOs and FMs about perceiving the attractive and unattractive opposite-sex faces. The amplitude of N170 in FOs was much higher than FMs, but there were no difference between perceiving the attractive and unattractive male faces in FOs and FMs, which have not been found in previous studies. This indicated that, in order to distinguish whether the opposite-sex face’s owner is an out-group or carrying a faulty gene, they allocate more attention resources, which were reflected in the largest amplitude of N170 and the longest latency of vMMN in FOs. In addition, through analyzing the latency of N170 and vMMN in FOs, we can see that the motivation to avoid the genetic stain takes priority over the breeding motivation. Hence, what females do first lies in ruling out the risk of gene pollution, on the basis of which they will further screen high-quality genes to breed their offspring. This is similar as some other behavior studies (Gangestad, Thornhill, & Garver-Apgar, 2010; Little, Jones, & Burriss, 2007).

In terms of neural mechanism, the attractiveness vMMN obtained in this study was distributed at posterior areas (parieto-occipital and parieto areas). These results are consistent with previous studies investigating the process of attractive facial information. Attractive faces will stimulate some cerebral regions related to reward and emotion, such as orbitofrontal cortex, amygdaloid nucleus, basal ganglia. (Ishai, 2007; Wilson & Daly, 2004; Winston et al., 2007). Some research made changes to experiment tasks with attractive and unattractive faces, but no matter how the change was, VTA would invariably be automatically activated by attractive faces (Chatterjee et al., 2009). Meanwhile, the attractiveness vMMN provided more convincing evidence about the automatic processing of the attractive faces. Meanwhile, the standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography method might help us to explore the cortical generators of attractiveness vMMN (AMMN) in future studies.

In addition, even though a lot of studies do not consistent with the conclusion, the female perception to male attractive faces differs with menstrual phase, drawn from this study (Harris, 2011, 2013; Jones, 2018; Muñoz-Reyes, Pita, Arjona, Sanchez-Pages, & Turiegano, 2014; Wood & Carden, 2014; Zietsch, Lee, Sherlock, & Jern, 2015). These controversies should be studied in future. However, this study has revealed in the time course of attractive facial perception, which may provide sounder evidence showing that females’ automatic perception of facial attractiveness varies across the menstrual cycle.

This study had some limitations. First, previous studies indicated that the traditional vMMN in the oddball sequence indeed confounds standard stimuli refractoriness reflected by the changes of early visual ERP components such as the temporo-occipital N1 component (Astikainen & Hietanen, 2009; Chang, Xu, Shi, Zhang, & Zhao, 2010; Stefanics, Csukly, Komlósi, Czobor, & Czigler, 2012; Susac, Ilmoniemi, Pihko, Ranken, & Supek, 2010; Susac, Ilmoniemi, Pihko, & Supek, 2004) and N170 component (Japee, Crocker, Carver, Pessoa, & Ungerleider, 2009; Vlamings, Goffaux, & Kemner, 2009; Wronka & Walentowska, 2011), due to its similar latency and scalp topography with vMMN (Luck, 2014). Astikainen, Cong, Ristaniemi, and Hietanen (2013) found two separate components for the emotional faces in both the oddball and equiprobable conditions by independent component … [more]
ovulation  attraction  sexual-attraction  faces  periods  female-mating-strategies  male-mating-strategies 
january 2019 by thegrandnarrative
What eyes and odours reveal about sexual attraction - Best mates
DO MEN, in essence, marry their mothers, and women their fathers? And do they also choose mates by smell in a way that is likely to result in healthy offspring? These are both old hypotheses and both have been tested by studies published this week. Only one of them, however, seems to hold up.

Janek Lobmaier of the University of Bern, in Switzerland, and his colleagues, looked at the question of smell. Their work appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Lisa DeBruine of the University of Glasgow, in Britain, and her colleagues looked, in a paper posted to bioRxiv, an online database, at eye colour—specifically, whether the eyes of someone’s lover match those of a pertinent parent.

Dr Lobmaier and his team were testing the idea that people literally sniff out partners with appropriate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. Individuals with more diverse sets of MHC genes have stronger immune systems. Mates with different MHC genes are thus likely to have healthier offspring. MHC genes also affect body odour, so it is no surprise that many species of animal choose, on the basis of odour, mates with dissimilar MHC genes.

Whether people follow suit, though, is unclear. Experiments have produced equivocal results. So, to nail things down, Dr Lobmaier recruited 42 female odour donors and 94 male odour raters, all of whom gave blood samples that he analysed to determine which versions of six different MHC genes they possessed. Every man was asked to rate the smell of eight women, collected on a cotton pad held overnight in the armpit of the woman in question. Crucially, which had not been the case in previous work, these samples were all collected at the point in the volunteers’ menstrual cycles when their fertility was at its peak. Four of the eight were from women with similar MHCs to the man doing the sniffing, and four were from women with dissimilar MHCs.

Dr DeBruine’s experiment, meanwhile, involved 150 men and 150 women, half of whom in each case had long-term lovers of the same sex. She asked participants their own eye colour, that of their lover and that of their parents. She then sorted these colours, for statistical convenience, into two groups: light (hazel, green, blue-green, blue and grey) and dark (black, dark brown and light brown). Her aim was to test three conflicting hypotheses: that people are attracted to mates similar to themselves; that daughters genetically inherit preferences from mothers, and sons from fathers (so they will prefer the eye colour of the other parent); or that preferences are learned by imprinting on a parent.

For heterosexuals, however, the outcome of the second and third hypotheses would be the same. It was by including gay men and women in her sample that Dr DeBruine thought she might be able to distinguish between them. A gay son, she hypothesised, would imprint on his father, and a gay daughter on her mother.

And so it proved. When she crunched the numbers, she found that gay men and straight women were both twice as likely as chance would predict to have a lover with a similar eye colour to their father’s. Likewise, straight men and gay women were two and a half times as likely as chance to have lovers of a similar eye-colour to their mother’s. Though eye-colour is but one of many features that may attract romantic interest, in its particular case, that attraction seems likely to be imprinted.

As to Dr Lobmaier, he found that, though the men in his study expressed strong likes and dislikes concerning the odours he asked them to smell, these bore no relation to the MHCs of the women involved. On that hypothesis, then, it is back to the drawing board.
sexual-attraction  eye-colour  pherenomes 
november 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Birth Control Probably Doesn't Change Who You're Attracted to, Study Finds
Some previous experiments have found that women taking hormonal contraceptives or experiencing their period were more likely to favor male facial features that are less associated with testosterone, like a rounder jaw or thinner eyebrows. But these studies may have been flawed from the get-go, according to Ben Jones, a professor at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology in the UK and lead author of the new work.

“Researchers have highlighted some potential methodological problems with these studies, like testing only a relatively small number of women,” he told Gizmodo via email. “We set out to address these criticisms by carrying out the largest study of these issues to date.”

Jones and his team recruited over 500 heterosexual-identifying women in the UK for their study. The women were shown 10 pairs of randomly selected male faces at the same time and told to pick which one they were more attracted to, as well as to rate how attractive the face was. The faces were slightly digitally altered to be more masculine- or feminine-looking; i.e., their cheekbones might have become more or less prominent. And each testing session was broken down into two parts, taken separately: The women rated the faces in terms of either liking them for a short-term fling or for a committed relationship.

The women took these tests every week for five weeks, then were asked to come back in about six months and then about two years for more rounds of testing. At each session, they also submitted saliva samples, which were used to track hormone levels. The majority of women completed all five weeks of the first round, though only 200 returned for the second round six months later and only 18 returned for the third round two years later.

“We found no evidence that women’s face preferences tracked changes in hormone levels or changes in women’s use of oral contraceptives,” Jones said. “Instead, we found that women generally preferred masculine men regardless of their own hormonal status.”
sexual-attraction  Menstruation  periods  hormones 
may 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Friends, then benefits - Psychology
BEAUTY opens many doors. Study after study has concluded that the comely earn more, are better liked, are treated more indulgently and are even given more lenient sentences in court than their plainer counterparts. The door it opens widest, though, is the romantic one. As both common sense and evolutionary theory suggest should happen, beautiful people attract beautiful partners. But not always. Occasionally, handsome men choose plain women, and vice versa.

Why this should be vexes psychologists and biologists alike. A study by Lucy Hunt of the University of Texas at Austin, and her colleagues, soon to be published in Psychological Science, suggests an answer. It depends on whether the couples in questions were friends before they were lovers.

Ms Hunt asked 167 couples how they had come to know one another. Individuals were questioned alone, and their responses compared with those of their other halves. Those responses were mixed: 40% of couples said they were friends before they were lovers, while 41% said they were not. (The remaining 19% could not agree, with one member of the couple saying they had been friends beforehand and the other denying it.)

To measure participants’ attractiveness, Ms Hunt showed videos of them to a group of undergraduates who had not been told the experiment’s goal. The students were asked to rate the attractiveness of the people in the videos on a seven-point scale. Generally, the scores assigned to a participant by different students agreed with one another, which allowed Ms Hunt to calculate, with a fair degree of confidence, just how well-correlated in the beauty stakes a pair of lovers were.

She and her colleagues found that the attractiveness of couples who became romantic partners soon after their first meeting had an average correlation of 0.46 (out of a maximum possible of 1.0). In other words, if a man in such a couple was rated as “very attractive”, there was a fair chance that his female counterpart would be rated as “very attractive” too. In contrast, those who were friends first had an average correlation of just 0.18. Tellingly, the researchers found that the longer the members of a couple had known each other before becoming lovers, the lower was the strength of the correlation.

So a period of pre-romantic friendship can indeed erode beauty’s pulling power. But why? One explanation Ms Hunt proposes is that friendship gives potential mates time to assess subtler attributes, such as intelligence and dependability, as well as the more obvious signal of outward beauty. Given the huge commitment, by both sexes, involved in raising children, such a strategy of long-term assessment is likely to have evolution on its side.

That does, though, raise questions. One is, why does love at first sight persist? Another is, if beauty is, in an evolutionary sense, tradable for good parenting skills, what does that have to say about the parenting skills of beautiful couples?
Human-mating  dating  sexual-attraction  sexual-relationships  friend-zone 
january 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Are Men With Beards More Desirable?
The answers, which were published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, varied depending on what the woman was looking for. Overall, the women said the sexiest men were those sporting heavy stubble, followed by short stubble. Men with full beards and clean-shaven men were rated the lowest on the overall sexiness scale.

What kind of man is most attractive to a woman looking for a short-term fling or one-night stand? Men with light stubble won that contest, closely followed by men with heavier stubble, suggesting that the scruffy look appeals to women looking for fun, but not commitment.

But when it came to choosing a long-term partner, a guy with whom a woman could have babies or settle in for the duration, the more facial hair the better. Men with heavy stubble and full beards were the clear winners on this question, suggesting that men who are ready to commit might do better if they shave less often.

The authors of the study theorize that for women who are looking for a long-term mate, beardedness may be more attractive as it “indicates a male’s ability to compete for resources.”
facial-hair  beards  sexual-attraction 
may 2017 by thegrandnarrative
Eye tracking study finds women rate men with a lower waist-to-chest ratio as more attractive
In the study, 90 women of Mexican American descent (aged 18–38) viewed color photographs of a young Caucasian man in his early 20s while researchers tracked their gaze using an eye tracking device. The researchers found that women directed most of their visual attention toward the upper part of the man’s body. Women first directed their gaze towards the chest followed by the head, midriff, and lower portions of the body.

Women were more likely to rate the man as attractive when he had a lower waist-to-chest ratio. In other words, men with larger, more muscular upper bodies were rated as more attractive. Whether the man had facial or chest hair did not appear to influence his attractiveness on average.

PsyPost interviewed the study’s corresponding author, Ray Garza of Texas A&M University. Read his responses below:

PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?

Garza: I was interested in the topic because of my general interest in evolutionary reasons in predicting attraction. With that said, we noticed that there was limited information on men’s attraction by women during different stages of the menstrual cycle. Recent research (e.g., Dixson) who I cite repeatedly, has begun using eye tracking as a means to assess visual interest, and we have done the same. To our knowledge, our particular use of the eye tracker with cyclic changes is one of the first studies to investigate this phenomenon.
female-sexuality  sexual-attraction  men's-body-shape  body-shape  chests 
march 2017 by thegrandnarrative
Hunkier than thou
In a paper published earlier this year Dr DeBruine found that women in countries with poor health statistics preferred men with masculine features more than those who lived in healthier societies. Where disease is rife, this seemed to imply, giving birth to healthy offspring trumps having a man stick around long enough to help care for it. In more salubrious climes, therefore, wimps are in with a chance.

Now, though, researchers led by Robert Brooks, of the University of New South Wales, have taken another look at Dr DeBruine's data and arrived at a different conclusion. They present their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. Dr Brooks suggests that it is not health-related factors, but rather competition and violence among men that best explain a woman's penchant for manliness. The more rough-and-tumble the environment, the researcher's argument goes, the more women prefer masculine men, because they are better than the softer types at providing for mothers and their offspring.
sexual-attraction  female-sexuality 
march 2017 by thegrandnarrative
Can Perfume Sabotage a Budding Romance?
In 1995, the Swiss zoologist Claus Wedekind asked a group of women to sniff the unwashed t-shirts of several anonymous men and rate how pleasant they smelled. To ensure the women were getting the real deal, Wedekind had the men sleep in the shirts for two nights prior, avoiding deodorants, alcohol, cigarettes, smell-altering foods, scented soaps, and anything else that could cover up or neutralize their natural scents. As unappealing as it sounds, this now-famous experiment was not a study of cruelty. In many ways, it was a study of love.

Before the experiment, scientists had already discovered that many animals use their sense of smell to find compatible mates, naturally avoiding partners who can’t provide the healthiest offspring. But Wedekind’s experiment offered provocative insight into the question of whether humans do this as well. He found that each woman had strong preferences among the dirty shirts, overwhelmingly favoring the smell of men who were more genetically compatible with her. In other words, the t-shirts that smelled the most pleasant—sometimes even reminding women of former partners—came from men with whom the women could, genetically speaking, produce healthy babies.
pherenomes  body-odor  scent  smells  sexual-attraction 
february 2017 by thegrandnarrative

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