Lars Penke

Lars Penke
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen | GAUG · Department of Biological Differential Psychology

Prof. Dr.

About

179
Publications
129,117
Reads
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9,425
Citations
Introduction
Lars Penke currently works at the Department of Biological Differential Psychology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Lars does research in Differential Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology and Personality Psychology.
Additional affiliations
July 2013 - present
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Position
  • Professor (Full)
February 2008 - June 2013
The University of Edinburgh
Position
  • Lecturer
October 2004 - July 2007
International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE)
International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE)
Position
  • External Fellow

Publications

Publications (179)
Article
Full-text available
Mate preferences and mating-related behaviors are hypothesized to change over the menstrual cycle to increase reproductive fitness. Recent large-scale studies suggest that previously reported hormone-linked behavioral changes are not robust. The proposal that women's preference for associating with male kin is down-regulated during the ovulatory (h...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how human mating psychology is affected by changes in female cyclic fertility is informative for comprehending the evolution of human reproductive behavior. Based on differential selection pressures between the sexes, men are assumed to have evolved adaptations to notice women's within-cycle cues to fertility and show corresponding ma...
Preprint
According to the halo effect, person perceptions are globally biased by specific traits or characteristics. Attractive people are attributed positive traits like prosociality, health, and dominance. However, due to a strong focus on facial stimuli it remains unclear whether this effect can also be found for bodies. Furthermore, most studies involve...
Article
Full-text available
Steroid hormones are often assessed via saliva samples, as they are noninvasive and easy to collect. However, hormone levels in saliva can fluctuate from moment-to-moment, are influenced by factors such as momentary emotional states and food intake, and some vary strongly across women's ovulatory cycle. In contrast, hormone levels in hair seem to b...
Preprint
In Arslan et al. (2018), we reported ovulatory increases in extra-pair sexual desire, in-pair sexual desire, and self-perceived desirability, as well as several moderator analyses related to the good genes ovulatory shift hypothesis, which predicts attenuated ovulatory increases in extra-pair desire for women with attractive partners. Gangestad and...
Article
Many of the women who take hormonal contraceptives discontinue because of unwanted side effects, including negative psychological effects. Yet scientific evidence of psychological effects is mixed, partly because causal claims are often based on correlational data. In correlational studies, possible causal effects can be difficult to separate from...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives When judging a male speakers’ likelihood to act sexually unfaithful in a committed relationship, listeners rely on the speakers’ voice pitch such that lower voice pitch is perceived as indicating being more unfaithful. In line with this finding, a recent study (Schild et al. Behavioral Ecology, 2020) provided first evidence that voice pi...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Hormones are often conceptualized as biological markers of individual differences and have been associated with a variety of behavioral indicators and characteristics, such as mating behavior or acquiring and maintaining dominance. However, before researchers create strong theoretical models for how hormones modulate individual and social...
Article
Full-text available
How attractive we find ourselves decides who we target as potential partners and influences our reproductive fitness. Self-perceptions on women’s fertile days could be particularly important. However, results on how self-perceived attractiveness changes across women’s ovulatory cycles are inconsistent and research has seldomly assessed multiple att...
Article
In Arslan et al. (2018), we reported ovulatory increases in extra-pair sexual desire, in-pair sexual desire, and self-perceived desirability, as well as several moderator analyses related to the good genes ovulatory shift hypothesis, which predicts attenuated ovulatory increases in extra-pair desire for women with attractive partners. Gangestad and...
Article
Full-text available
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
Self-reported mate preferences suggest intelligence is valued across cultures, consistent with the idea that human intelligence evolved as a sexually selected trait. The validity of self-reports has been questioned though, so it remains unclear whether objectively assessed intelligence is indeed attractive. In Study 1, 88 target men had their intel...
Preprint
Many of the women who take hormonal contraceptives discontinue because of unwanted side effects, including negative psychological effects. Yet scientific evidence of psychological effects is mixed and, partly because causal claims are often based on correlational data. In correlational studies, possible causal effects can be difficult to separate f...
Article
Full-text available
Research on links between peoples’ personality traits and their voices has primarily focused on other peoples’ personality judgments about a target person based on a target person’s vocal characteristics, particularly voice pitch. However, it remains unclear whether individual differences in voices are linked to actual individual differences in per...
Article
Full-text available
Are ovulatory cycle shifts in women's mate attraction and preferences robust? What are underlying mechanisms of potential cycle shifts? These questions are the subject of a current scientific debate surrounding the good genes ovulatory shift hypothesis. Here, we report a large, preregistered, within-subjects study, including salivary hormone measur...
Preprint
Full-text available
**Objective**: Hormones are often conceptualized as biological markers of individual differences and have been associated with a variety of behavioral indicators and characteristics, such as mating behavior or acquiring and maintaining dominance. However, before researchers create strong theoretical models for how hormones modulate individual and s...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract What does it mean to be happy? The vast majority of cross-cultural studies on happiness have employed a Western-origin, or “WEIRD” measure of happiness that conceptualizes it as a self-centered (or “independent”), high-arousal emotion. However, research from East�ern cultures, particularly Japan, conceptualizes happiness as including an in...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual selection appears to have shaped the acoustic signals of diverse species, including humans. Deep, resonant vocalizations in particular may function in attracting mates and/or intimidating same-sex competitors. Evidence for these adaptive functions in human males derives predominantly from perception studies in which vocal acoustic parameters...
Article
Full-text available
What does it mean to be happy? The vast majority of cross-cultural studies on happiness have employed a Western-origin, or “WEIRD” measure of happiness that conceptualizes it as a self-centered (or “independent”), high-arousal emotion. However, research from Eastern cultures, particularly Japan, conceptualizes happiness as including an interpersona...
Chapter
Behavior genetic research addressing how genetic variation and environmental variation explain complex phenotypes has instigated a dramatic paradigm shift in the field of psychological science in the last 50 years. The classic nature vs. nurture debate has slowly given way to a more nuanced view of nature and nurture that recognizes the complex int...
Article
Full-text available
Objective The current exploratory study sought to examine dispositional optimism, or the general expectation for positive outcomes, around the world. Method Dispositional optimism and possible correlates were assessed across 61 countries (N = 15,185; mean age = 21.92; 77% female). Mean‐level differences in optimism were computed along with their r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Research on links between peoples’ personality traits and their voices has primarily focused on other peoples’ personality judgments about a target person based on a target person’s vocal characteristics, particularly voice pitch. However, it remains unclear whether individual differences in voices are linked to actual individual differences in per...
Article
Full-text available
Facial fluctuating asymmetry (FA), presumably a proxy measure of developmental instability, has been proposed to inversely relate to vocal attractiveness, which may convey information on heritable fitness benefits. Using an improved method of measuring facial FA, we sought to replicate two recent studies that showed an inverse correlation of facial...
Article
Full-text available
With the advent of online and app-based studies, researchers in psychology are making increasing use of repeated subjective reports. The new methods open up opportunities to study behavior in the field and to map causal processes, but they also pose new challenges. Recent work has added initial elevation bias to the list of common pitfalls; here, h...
Article
Successful emotion recognition is a key component of human socio-emotional communication skills. However, little is known about the factors impacting males’ accuracy in emotion recognition tasks. This pre-registered study examined potential candidates, focusing on the modality of stimulus presentation, emotion category and individual baseline hormo...
Article
Full-text available
The existence of ovulatory-cycle shifts in women’s mate preferences has been a point of controversy. There is evidence that naturally cycling women in their fertile phase, compared with their luteal phase, evaluate specific behavioral cues in men as more attractive for sexual relationships. However, recent research has cast doubt on these findings....
Article
Full-text available
Event history calendars (EHCs) are popular tools for retrospective data collection. Originally conceptualized as face-to-face interviews, EHCs contain various questions about the respondents’ autobiography in order to use their experiences as cues to facilitate remembering. For relationship researchers, EHCs are particularly valuable when trying to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Facial fluctuating asymmetry (FA), presumably a proxy measure of developmental instability, has been proposed to inversely relate to vocal attractiveness, which may convey information on heritable fitness benefits. Using an improved method of measuring facial FA, we sought to replicate two recent studies that showed an inverse correlation of facial...
Preprint
Full-text available
Successful emotion recognition is a key component of our socio-emotional communication skills. However, little is known about the factors impacting males' accuracy in emotion recognition tasks. This pre-registered study examined potential candidates, focusing on the modality of stimulus presentation, emotion category, and individual hormone levels....
Article
Full-text available
Early exposure to negative environmental impact shapes individual behavior and potentially contributes to any mental disease. We reported previously that accumulated environmental risk markedly decreases age at schizophrenia onset. Follow-up of matched extreme group individuals (≤1 vs. ≥3 risks) unexpectedly revealed that high-risk subjects had >5...
Preprint
The existence of ovulatory cycle shifts in women’s mate preferences has been discussed controversially. There is evidence that naturally cycling women in their fertile phase, compared to their luteal phase, evaluate specific behavioral cues in men as more attractive for sexual relationships. However, recent research has cast doubt on these findings...
Preprint
Gangestad et al. (this issue) recently published alternative analyses of our open data to investigate whether women show ovulatory shifts in preferences for men’s bodies. They argue that a significant three-way interaction between log-transformed hormones, a muscularity component, and women’s relationship status provides evidence for the ovulatory...
Article
Keywords: animal social bond Assamese macaques homophily human friendship partner choice personality Animal social bonds are defined as stable, equitable and strong affiliative and cooperative relationships similar to human friendships. Just as with human friendships, social bonds are thought to function as alliances that generate adaptive benefits...
Article
Full-text available
Gangestad et al. (this issue) recently published alternative analyses of our open data to investigate whether women show ovulatory shifts in preferences for men’s bodies. They argue that a significant three-way interaction between log-transformed hormones, a muscularity component, and women’s relationship status provides evidence for the ovulatory...
Preprint
Event history calendars (EHCs) are popular tools for retrospective data collection. Originally conceptualized as face-to-face interviews, EHCs contain various questions about the respondents’ autobiography in order to use their experiences as cues to facilitate remembering. For relationship researchers, EHCs are particularly valuable when trying to...
Article
In nonhuman animals, individuals of the same sex and age differ in their behavior patterns consistently across time, comparable with human personality differences. To draw conclusions about the adaptive value of behavior traits, it is essential to study them in the wild where animals are subject to the ecological pressures that promoted the evoluti...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Mean speed of responding is the most commonly used measure in the assessment of reaction time (RT). An alternative measure is intraindividual variability (IIV): the inconsistency of responding across multiple trials of a test. IIV has been suggested as an important indicator of central nervous system functioning, and as such, there has...
Article
Recent studies suggest that both facial and bodily dominance promote high status positions and predict status-seeking behaviors such as aggression and social dominance. An evolutionarily relevant context in which associations between these dominance signals and status outcomes may be prevalent are face-to-face status contests. The present study exa...
Preprint
Recent psychological research has experienced a stark increase in the use of repeated subjective reports, such as online, smartphone-based daily diaries. This development holds great opportunities to study causal processes and developmental change, but it also brings new challenges. As is often the case in psychology, interest in specific substanti...
Article
Reports an error in "Using 26,000 diary entries to show ovulatory changes in sexual desire and behavior" by Ruben C. Arslan, Katharina M. Schilling, Tanja M. Gerlach and Lars Penke (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Advanced Online Publication, Aug 27, 2018, np). In the original article the number of participants available for robustnes...
Article
Objectives: The assessment of men's physical strength is an important part of human social perception, for which observers rely on different kinds of cues. However, besides previous studies being limited in considerable ways, as yet there is no comprehensive investigation of a range of somatometric measures in relation to both objectively measured...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Facial masculinity, as for example measured by the facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) or the global facial masculinity index, has been associated with a vast range of behavioural traits, including dominance and aggression. Further, facial masculinity is thought to be influenced by testosterone (T) levels as an underlying mechanism. Howe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mate preferences and mating-related behaviors are hypothesized to change over the menstrual cycle in ways that function to increase reproductive fitness. Results of recent large-scale studies suggest that many of these hormone-linked behavioral changes are less robust than was previously thought. One specific hypothesis that has not yet been subjec...
Preprint
Objectives: The assessment of men’s physical strength is an important part of human social perception, for which observers rely on different kinds of cues. However, besides previous studies being limited in considerable ways, as yet there is no comprehensive investigation of a range of somatometric measures in relation to both objectively measured...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The dual-hormone hypothesis suggests that associations of testosterone (T) with certain behavioral tendencies are stronger when cortisol (C) levels are low simultaneously. A range of studies provided supporting evidence for TxC interaction effects, for example on dominance and risk-taking behaviors. However, concerning perceptions of fac...
Article
Full-text available
The theory of facultative calibration, which explains personality differences as responses to variation in other phenotypic traits of individuals, received mixed results throughout the last years. Whereas there is strong evidence that individual differences in human behavior are correlated with the self-perception of other traits, it still needs to...
Article
Full-text available
The current project measures personality across cultures, for the first time using a forced-choice (or idiographic) assessment instrument - the California Adult Q-set (CAQ). Correlations among the average personality profiles across 13 countries (total N = 2,370) ranged from r = .69 to r = .98. The most similar averaged personality profiles were be...
Article
Women's mating psychology may have evolved to track reproductive conditions, including conception risk, across and between ovulatory cycles. Alternatively, within-woman correlations between mating psychology and ovarian hormones may be byproducts of between-women relationships. Here, we examined associations between steroid hormones and two facets...
Article
Full-text available
As is the case for humans, it has long been thought that nonhuman primates can be described in terms of their personality. Scientific observations that support this view include the presence of individual differences in social behavior and that they are relatively stable throughout life. Consequently, individuals are constrained in their behavioral...
Preprint
Animal social bonds are defined as stable, equitable and strong affiliative and cooperative relationships similar to human friendships. Just as human friendships, social bonds are thought to function as alliances that generate adaptive benefits via support in critical situations. In humans, similarity in many sociodemographic, behavioural and intra...
Preprint
Full-text available
The theory of facultative calibration, which explains personality differences as responses to variation in other phenotypic traits of individuals, received mixed results throughout the last years. Whereas there is strong evidence that individual differences in human behavior are correlated with the self-perception of other traits, it still needs to...
Preprint
Full-text available
As is the case for humans, it has long been thought that nonhuman primates can be described in terms of their personality. Scientific observations that support this view include the presence of individual differences in social behavior and that they are relatively stable throughout life. Consequently, individuals are constrained in their behavioral...
Article
Full-text available
Although empirical research has investigated what we ideally seek in a romantic partner for decades, the crucial question of whether ideal partner preferences actually guide our mating decisions in real life has remained largely unanswered. One reason for this is the lack of designs that assess individuals’ ideal partner preferences before entering...
Article
Full-text available
Pedigree-based analyses of intelligence have reported that genetic differences account for 50-80% of the phenotypic variation. For personality traits these effects are smaller, with 34-48% of the variance being explained by genetic differences. However, molecular genetic studies using unrelated individuals typically report a heritability estimate o...
Article
Full-text available
Increases in men's testosterone (T) levels after intrasexual competitions and exposure to females facilitate competitive and courtship behaviours, suggesting T reactivity should affect relevant personality state changes. How exactly T reactivity, also under potential buffering effects of cortisol (C), relates to personality state changes is unclear...
Article
Full-text available
Are estrous mate preference shifts robust? This question is the subject of controversy within human evolutionary sciences. For nearly two decades, mate preference shifts across the ovulatory cycle were considered an important feature of human sexual selection, directing women’s attention towards mates with indicators of “good genes” in their fertil...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research reported ovulatory changes in women’s appearance, mate preferences, extra- and in-pair sexual desire, and behavior, but has been criticized for small sample sizes, inappropriate designs, and undisclosed flexibility in analyses. In the present study, we sought to address these criticisms by preregistering our hypotheses and analysi...
Preprint
Objectives The dual-hormone hypothesis suggests that associations of testosterone (T) with certain behavioral tendencies are stronger when cortisol (C) levels are low simultaneously. A range of studies provided supporting evidence for TxC interaction effects for example on dominance and risk-taking behaviors. However, concerning perceptions of faci...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research reported ovulatory changes in women’s appearance, mate preferences, extra- and in-pair sexual desire and behaviour, but has been criticised for small sample sizes, inappropriate designs, and undisclosed flexibility in analyses. In the present study, we sought to address these criticisms by preregistering our hypotheses and analysi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Are estrous mate preference shifts robust? This question is the subject of controversy within human evolutionary sciences. For nearly two decades, mate preference shifts across the ovulatory cycle were considered an important feature of human sexual selection, directing women's attention towards mates with indicators of "good genes" in their fertil...
Preprint
Are estrous mate preference shifts robust? This question is the subject of controversy within human evolutionary sciences. For nearly two decades, mate preference shifts across the ovulatory cycle were considered an important feature of human sexual selection, directing women’s attention towards mates with indicators of “good genes” in their fertil...
Article
Ovulatory cycle shifts in women’s mate preferences have been documented for several physical and behavioral traits. Research suggests that, at peak fertility, women tend to prefer men with characteristics that reflect good genes for short-term sexual relationships. However, existing findings have been criticized for methodological flexibility and f...