Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Own attractiveness and perceived relationship quality shape sensitivity in women’s memory for other men on the attractiveness dimension

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Christopher D. Watkins, Mike J. Nicholls, Carlota Batres, Dengke Xiao, Sean Talamas, David I. Perrett

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Although recent work suggests that opposite-sex facial attractiveness is less salient in memory when individuals are in a committed romantic relationship, romantic relationship quality can vary over time. In light of this, we tested whether activating concerns about romantic relationship quality strengthens memory for attractive faces. Partnered women were exposed briefly to faces manipulated in shape cues to attractiveness before either being asked to think about a moment of emotional closeness or distance in their current relationship. We measured sensitivity in memory for faces as the extent to which they recognized correct versions of studied faces over versions of the same person altered to look either more or less-attractive than their original (i.e. studied) version. Contrary to predictions, high relationship quality strengthened hit rate for faces regardless of the sex or attractiveness of the face. In general, women’s memories were more sensitive to attractiveness in women, but were biased toward attractiveness in male faces, both when responding to unfamiliar faces and versions of familiar faces that were more attractive than the original male identity from the learning phase. However, findings varied according to self-rated attractiveness and a psychometric measure of the quality of their current relationship. Attractive women were more sensitive to attractiveness in men, while their less-attractive peers had a stronger bias to remember women as more attractive and men as less-attractive than their original image respectively. Women in better-quality romantic relationships had stronger positive biases toward, and false memories for, attractive men. Our findings suggest a sophisticated pattern of sensitivity and bias in women’s memory for facial cues to quality that varies systematically according to factors that may alter the costs of female mating competition (‘market demand’) and relationship maintenance.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-154
Number of pages8
JournalCognition
Volume163
Early online date22 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

    Research areas

  • Person memory, Quality, Female competition, Extra-pair mating, Identify

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Charlie Gross: an inspiration

    Perrett, D., Dec 2020, In: Progress in Neurobiology. 195, 101928.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

  2. The attractive side of trustworthiness: effects of relationship context and social interaction anxiety on face preferences

    Carrito, M. L., Santos, I. M., Bem-Haja, P., Lopes, A. A., Silva, C. F. & Perrett, D. I., 1 Jul 2020, In: Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. 14, 3, p. 261-269 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Reactions to an online demonstration of the effect of increased fruit and vegetable consumption on appearance: survey

    Cairns, P., Ozakinci, G. & Perrett, D. I., Jul 2020, In: Journal of Medical Internet Research. 22, 7, 9 p., e15726.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Misperceptions of opposite-sex preferences for thinness and muscularity

    Perrett, D. I. & Lei, X., 25 May 2020, In: British Journal of Psychology. Early View, 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Skin color cues to human health: carotenoids, aerobic fitness, and body fat

    Perrett, D. I., Talamas, S., Cairns, P. & Henderson, A. J., 11 Mar 2020, In: Frontiers in Psychology. 11, 14 p., 392.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Do doorways really matter: investigating memory benefits of event segmentation in a virtual learning environment

    Logie, M. R. & Donaldson, D. I., Apr 2021, In: Cognition. 209, 104578.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Attentional coordination in demonstrator-observer dyads facilitates learning and predicts performance in a novel manual task

    Pagnotta, M., Laland, K. N. & Coco, M. I., Aug 2020, In: Cognition. 201, 104314.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. A new look at joint attention and common knowledge

    Siposova, B. & Carpenter, M., Aug 2019, In: Cognition. 189, p. 260-274 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Communicative eye contact signals a commitment to cooperate for young children

    Siposova, B., Tomasello, M. & Carpenter, M., Oct 2018, In: Cognition. 179, p. 192-201

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Intuitive statistical inferences in chimpanzees and humans follow Weber‘s Law

    Eckert, J., Call, J., Hermes, J., Herrmann, E. & Rakoczy, H., Nov 2018, In: Cognition. 180, p. 99-107 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Cognition (Journal)

    Josep Call (Member of editorial board)

    2015 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Cognition (Journal)

    Malinda Carpenter (Editor)

    1 Jul 201331 Dec 2014

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 249386225

Top