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Effect of manipulated prestige-car ownership on both sex attractiveness ratings

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Previous studies have shown that male attractiveness can be enhanced by manipulation of status through, for example, the medium of costume. The present study experimentally manipulated status by seating the same target model (male and female matched for attractiveness) expressing identical facial expressions and posture in either a 'high status' (Silver Bentley Continental GT) or a 'neutral status' (Red Ford Fiesta ST) motor-car. A between-subjects design was used whereby the above photographic images were presented to male and female participants for attractiveness rating. Results showed that the male target model was rated as significantly more attractive on a rating scale of 1-10 when presented to female participants in the high compared to the neutral status context. Males were not influenced by status manipulation, as there was no significant difference between attractiveness ratings for the female seated in the high compared to the neutral condition. It would appear that despite a noticeable increase in female ownership of prestige/luxury cars over recent years males, unlike females remain oblivious to such cues in matters pertaining to opposite-sex attraction. These findings support the results of previous status enhancement of attractiveness studies especially those espousing sex differences in mate preferences are due to sex-specific adaptations.
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Effect of manipulated prestige-car ownership
on both sex attractiveness ratings
Michael J. Dunn* and Robert Searle
School of Health Sciences, Centre for Psychology, University of Wales Institute,
Cardiff, UK
Previous studies have shown that male attractiveness can be enhanced by manipulation
of status through, for example, the medium of costume. The present study
experimentally manipulated status by seating the same target model (male and female
matched for attractiveness) expressing identical facial expressions and posture in either
a ‘high status’ (Silver Bentley Continental GT) or a ‘neutral status’ (Red Ford Fiesta ST)
motor-car. A between-subjects design was used whereby the above photographic
images were presented to male and female participants for attractiveness rating. Results
showed that the male target model was rated as significantly more attractive on a rating
scale of 1–10 when presented to female participants in the high compared to the
neutral status context. Males were not influenced by status manipulation, as there was
no significant difference between attractiveness ratings for the female seated in the
high compared to the neutral condition. It would appear that despite a noticeable
increase in female ownership of prestige/luxury cars over recent years males, unlike
females remain oblivious to such cues in matters pertaining to opposite-sex attraction.
These findings support the results of previous status enhancement of attractiveness
studies especially those espousing sex differences in mate preferences are due to sex-
specific adaptations.
Research and debate has over recent years benefited enormously from the dedicated
input of psychologists well versed in evolutionary theory (e.g. Buss, 1989, 1992; Kenrick
& Keefe, 1992; Saad, 2007; Symons, 1979; Townsend, 1989) and in structural models
(e.g. Fletcher, Simpson, & Boyes, 2006; Fletcher, Simpson, Thomas, & Giles, 1999;
Penke, Todd, Lenton, & Fasolo, 2007) in matters pertaining to sex differences in human
mate preferences. The fruits of such labour have resulted in the identification of mate
preferences if not specific to one sex then clearly emphasized to a greater degree
in one sex compared to the other. It was Buss’s seminal cross-cultural comparison
of mate preferences that helped clarify that such universal proclivities did exist and
encouraged researchers to focus on the adaptive function of possessing such
* Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Michael J. Dunn, School of Health Sciences, Centre for Psychology, UWIC,
Llandaff Campus, Western Avenue, Cardiff CF5 2YB, UK (e-mail: mdunn@uwic.ac.uk).
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British Journal of Psychology (2010), 101, 69–80
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DOI:10.1348/000712609X417319
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preferences (Buss, 1989). In particular, males have been shown to focus more
attentively and instantaneously on visual, physical attractiveness and for greater variety
in their consideration of coitally acceptable potential partners whereas for females cues
indicative of wealth and status assume a more pre-eminent position and appear to be
more salient in such attractiveness-related decision-making processes than is the case for
males (Aharon et al., 2001; Buss, 1989; Hassebrauck, 1998; Shackelford, Schmitt, &
Buss, 2005; Singh, 1993; Stewart, Stinnett, & Rosenfeld, 2000; Symons, 1979; Todd,
Penke, Fasolo, & Lenton, 2007; Todosijevic
´, Ljubinkovic
´, & Aranc
ˇic
´, 2003; Townsend &
Wasserman, 1998).
Buss (1989) also emphasized that for females, male wealth, and status cue
information may come in an array of guises these being highly dependent on distinct
cultural and environmental factors. For example, having good financial prospects and
access to economic resources and higher social status may be measured in Western
society in terms of bank accounts and car and house ownership, however, in
traditional societies where such commodities are non-existent, females still show a
clear preference for males who possess or who demonstrate the potential to acquire
material resources peculiar to that society (see Betzig, 1986). In Western societies, the
strong desire by females for such resources is evident from accessing personal
advertisements placed in newspapers and magazines showing large differences in the
importance placed on this characteristic in females compared to males (Greenlees &
McGrew, 1994; Pawlowski & Koziel, 2002; Wiederman, 1993) and that physically
attractive women (i.e. women who are in a position to obtain precisely what they
want with regards to potential partners) do indeed tend to marry men of high
occupational status (Andersson, 1994; Taylor & Glenn, 1976). The perception by
males that their own status and spending prowess influences their attractiveness to
females is shown by the fact that males tend to denigrate their rivals by disparaging the
rival’s professional prospects, such as mentioning that a rival is lazy, lacks ambition, or
lacks clear goals in life (Buss, 2002), by displaying distress or jealousy towards more
socially dominant rivals (Buss, Shackelford, Choe, Buunk, & Dijkstra, 2005; Park,
Wiling, Bunnk, & Massar, 2008) and also in their willingness to spend on conspicuous
luxuries in a mating context (Griskevicius et al., 2007; Kruger, 2008; Saad, 2007).
Females, however, appear inclined to denigrate other females’ (potential rivals with
regards to attracting mates) physical attractiveness (Buss, 2002) and manifest distress
or jealousy towards physically attractive same-sex rivals (Buss et al., 2005; Park et al.,
2008). What is also evident when tracking these preferences over modern historical
time is the fact that despite the advent of the sexual revolution females still appear to
value indices of wealth and status approximately twice as importantly as males (Buss,
Shackelford, Kirkpatrick, & Larsen, 2001). Such preferences appear to remain robust
even in females who themselves are in possession of high wealth and status thus
precluding the explanation espoused by certain theorists that these preferences are
only expedient superficial ones and not more deep-seated, evolved adaptations
(Ardener, Ardener, & Warmington, 1960; Buss, 1989; Townsend, 1989; Wiederman &
Allgeier, 1992).
What is undeniable is that over recent years, economic prosperity and consequently
more equitable access to consumer items once perceived to be the exclusive domain of
men has now extended to women (Daily Mail, 2005; Jones, 2002). Women today are
clearly in a position to afford material and technological goods once regarded, at least
secondarily after practical purposes, as wealth or status symbols. One such wealth and
status symbol is ownership of a prestige or luxury sports car even though credit facilities
70 Michael J. Dunn and Robert Searle
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in modern western cultures permit purchase by individuals with more modest salaries.
It would appear that sales in prestige motor vehicles are now more evenly distributed
between males and females. For example, in a survey commissioned by Autoroyalty
50.61% of Volvo V70 owners and 61% of BMW Z4 owners were women (Autoroyalty,
2008). What remains speculative is the precise motivation for this contemporaneous
tendency in women to obtain prestige or luxury motorcars. Presumably, women like
men purchase such cars in the belief that they may either improve their own social
position in comparison to other females (intra-sexual competition) or that by elevating
their status they similarly enhance their attractiveness to members of the opposite sex
(Etcoff, 1999; Symons, 1979) or a combination of the two. Motivational factors aside the
objective of the current study was to explore empirically whether perceived ownership
of or at least association with, a high status car influences women’s attractiveness to the
same degree that it does in men.
Attractiveness enhancing effects of cues indicative of wealth and status have
previously been found by manipulating, for example, costume or clothing (see Hickling,
Noel, & Yutzler, 1979; Hill, Nocks, & Gardner, 1987; Townsend & Levy, 1990a,b). In this
current study, male and female participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of the
same photographically presented opposite-sex target model (male and female target
matched for attractiveness) either seated in a prestige/luxury (high status) or a standard
(non-high or neutral status) motor-car. Other cues that may have potentially enhanced
attractiveness judgments were scrupulously omitted, for example both models were
dressed casually and no other property cues were present. Although previous studies
have shown an enhanced male attractiveness effect due to manipulated high-status
clothing, the current wealth, and status cue (prestige-car ownership) is arguably more
salient due to the fact that obtaining such a commodity is, unlike ownership of a smart
suit, beyond the range of all but the wealthiest individuals in society and, therefore, can
be a more reliable or honest indicator of status. It has been argued that with regards to
expensive motorcars ‘you wear your status on the road’ (Barth, 2007) and with the
possible exception of a house or a boat nothing better epitomizes social status or an
assumption of lofty financial circumstance. According to the car insurance company
esure, a 2008 nationwide survey of male and female car owners found that around 90%
of drivers sampled perceived cars as being important status symbols. Similarly, male
prestige-car owners from Yorkshire to the East of England were shown to display
keenness in wanting others to see their cars as a reflection of their own success
(PA Business, 2008).
Also, asking participants to rate either live or photographic images of target models
for attractiveness is arguably superior to using verbal descriptions using somewhat
vague or abstract concepts as visually presented, opposite-sex, mate relevant cues
clarify, or disambiguate the research question directed at participants (see Hassebrauck,
1998; Townsend, 1993). In order to support previous findings showing that women
focus more on traits which they perceive as being reflective of a man’s wealth and status,
it is predicted that attractiveness ratings will be significantly higher in the
experimentally manipulated prestige-car ownership condition compared to the neutral
condition (perceived ownership of a neutral car). Conversely, despite the dramatic
increase in prestige motor-car ownership by females over recent years it is predicted
that males will not be influenced by experimental manipulation of status due possibly
to their evolved pre-occupation with physical cues and disinterest in female
status enhancement and will rate the target model similarly in the high and the neutral
status condition.
Status manipulation and attractiveness 71
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Method
Participants
For the experimental groups (total N¼240), participants of whose ages ranged from
21 to 40 were recruited from Cardiff city centre in Wales. The sample consisted of males
and females divided equally into sex (N¼120). Additionally, 150 (N) undergraduate
students from University of Wales Institute, Cardiff; (75 males/75 females) were used in
a preliminary rating exercise to rate three potential opposite-sex targets of which one of
each sex (matched for attractiveness) were selected for use in the main study. A further
100 (N) participants (separate local city centre cohort) were used to rate the aesthetic
attractiveness of the cars alone (N¼25 per condition male/female either high status or
neutral status car). Finally, to confirm that the cars selected were representative of the
classification ‘high’ and ‘neutral’ status a random selection of new males and females
(N¼20) were explicitly asked to estimate the purchase prices of the aforementioned
cars from the photographs used in the main study. Inclusion criteria required
prospective participants to be willing to take part via verbal consent and they were
informed of their right to withdraw from the study at any time if they so desired. Males
and females below the age of 21 and above the age of 40 were excluded from taking part
in the study.
Design
A between-subjects factorial design was used independent variables being sex
(male/female) and status (high status motor-car/neutral status motor-car). The
dependent variable was the attractiveness rating of the opposite-sex target model on
a scale of 1 (highly unattractive) to 10 (highly attractive).
Materials
Photographs of prospective target models and both high (i.e. prestige) and neutral status
cars were taken with a digital camera (Nikon Coolpix 5200). The target models were
chosen from a previous rating exercise, rated for attractiveness at approximately mid-
point (5) on a scale of 1–10 in order to preclude ceiling effects. The female and male
target models were both 23 years old. A rating form was also provided for participants
that contained a brief sentence instructing them to rate the opposite-sex model for
attractiveness and space provided to include sexual orientation. The neutral facial
expressions adopted by each target as appeared in the photographs were the same in
both the high and neutral status conditions as were lighting conditions, camera-to-target
distances and clothing (casual as opposed to status enhancing in order to preclude this
potential confound on attractiveness ratings). The position of the targets in the
photographs was also manipulated to maximally create the illusion of ownership (e.g.
relaxed posture in driving seat). Although not explicitly stated, as the physiques of the
target models were masked by their seated position the participants were essentially
rating the models on facial attractiveness. ‘High’ (Silver Bentley Continental GT) and
‘neutral’ (Red Ford Fiesta ST) status motorcars were used to manipulate status with both
motorcars being 2005 models. Both these cars were chosen because the net value
difference between the cars was deemed large enough to clearly warrant a difference in
status classification. More importantly, Bentley Continental GT’s retail from between
£ 60–90,000 and as the model used in the current study was a new model then the
purchase price would be nearer the top end. It was decided that the term ‘neutral’
72 Michael J. Dunn and Robert Searle
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would be used to describe the Red Ford Fiesta ST as opposed to ‘low’ status as such cars
can be owned by individuals not necessarily restricted to low socio-economic classes
(see Figure 1). The photos presented to participants for the purposes of establishing
both sex aesthetic appreciation of and awareness of the monetary value of each motor-
car were identical to those presented to participants in the main target attractiveness
study with the exception that the male and female targets were removed from the
photographic frame.
Procedure
Data were collected over a 4-week period. Prospective participants were approached in
communal areas of a local city centre in Cardiff, South Wales. The numbers of people
situated in that area during a busy shopping period allowed for a diverse array of
demographic backgrounds and age. Respondents were approached and individually
invited to take part, those who wished to do so were quasi-randomly issued with a
photograph of either the Red Ford Fiesta ST or Silver Bentley Continental GT alone (for
aesthetic appreciation ratings and purchase price estimates) or for the main experiment
a target model of the opposite sex pictured sitting in the drivers seat in either the
‘neutral’ (Red Ford Fiesta ST ) or a ‘high status’ motor-car (Silver Bentley Continental
Figure 1. Image pairs of female and male target models as presented to participants. One image of each
pair was taken in a neutral (left) and the other in a high (right) status context (Red Ford Fiesta ST and
Silver Bentley Continental GT, respectively).
Status manipulation and attractiveness 73
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GT), and were asked to state how attractive they perceived the model to be on a scale
from 1 (highly unattractive) to 10 (highly attractive) in addition to their own current age.
These instructions were standardized for both sexes. Participants were instructed by the
experimenters to carefully follow the instructions (these being verbally clarified by the
experimenter) one of these being to arrive at their rating of attractiveness within 1 min
of being presented by the photographic images. Provision was also made for
participants to provide details of their sexual orientation and only those who indicated
heterosexual were included in the final analysis of data. Also, participants attention was
not in any way drawn to the motorcars present in the photograph they were asked
simply the rate the target model for attractiveness.
Method of analysis
All data were analysed using ‘SPSS 12.0’ on a ‘Viglen’ PC with the ‘Windows 2000’
application. Two-way between subjects ANOVAs with simple main effects analyses
were conducted on the data. Results were taken to be significant at the p,:01 level.
Results
Matching target models
Before analysis of the main experiment could commence, both the male and female
target models used in the main experiment were matched for attractiveness (prior rating
exercise). An independent ttest revealed that there were no significant differences
between the male and female targets (t¼0.931, df ¼148, p..05) thus any sex
differences pertaining to attractiveness evident in the main experiment could be reliably
attributed to the experimental enhancement of status.
Motorcar aesthetic attractiveness rating and purchase price estimates
In order to ensure that any significant difference in the attractiveness of the target
models was not due to simple sex differences in aesthetic attractiveness ratings of the
two vehicles a silver Bentley Continental GT and a Red Ford Fiesta ST were assessed for
aesthetic attractiveness alone (independent samples). It was made clear to participants
precisely what aesthetic attractiveness referred to (i.e. how pleasing to the eye do the
cars appear) in the event of individual participants not being familiar with this particular
term. The results from this preliminary study are shown below (see Figure 2). It was also
shown that without exception respondents (separate cohort) gave estimates of in
excess of £50,000 for the Bentley and no estimate exceeded £2000 for the Ford Fiesta.
This clearly shows that both sexes are cognizant of the value of such cars (data not
shown).
Data were analysed using a two-way between subject ANOVAwith a between subject
factor of car (Fiesta and Bentley) and a between subject factor of sex (female and male).
Analysis revealed no main effect of sex [Fð1;56Þ¼1:3, p.:05, partial h2¼:001], a
main effect of car status [Fð1;56Þ¼276:5, p,:01, partial h2¼:49], and importantly
no significant car £sex interaction [Fð1;56Þ¼0:1, p.:05, partial h2¼:001]. Thus
male and females rated the Bentley car (high status) as more aesthetically pleasing than
the Ford Fiesta (neutral status) and there was no significant difference between the
ratings of each individual car within male and female rating scores.
74 Michael J. Dunn and Robert Searle
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Effect of status enhancement on opposite-sex attractiveness ratings
The main study shows that females rated the male target model significantly higher in
the high status context compared to the neutral status context whereas males showed
no difference in attractiveness ratings between the conditions (see Figure 3).
The main study data were analysed using a 2 £2, between subjects ANOVA with a
between-subject factor of sex (female/male) and a between subjects factor of status
(high and neutral). Analysis revealed a significant main effect of sex [Fð1;236Þ¼30:8,
p,:01, partial h2¼:16], status [Fð1;236Þ¼7:5, p,:01, partial h2¼:03], and
sex £status interaction [Fð1;236Þ¼13:3, p,:01, partial h2¼:11]. A subsequent
Figure 2. Both-sex aesthetic attractiveness ratings of neutral and high status cars. Aesthetic
attractiveness ratings were given to a Silver Bentley Continental GT and a Red Ford Fiesta ST. No
differences were evident between males and females for aesthetic attractiveness for each individual car.
Both sexes demonstrated significantly higher aesthetic attractiveness ratings for the high compared to
the neutral status car. Values ¼mean ^SEM.
Figure 3. Effect of manipulated prestige car ownership on both sex attractiveness ratings. Opposite-
sex attractiveness ratings were given to male and female target models presented to participants either
seated in a neutral or high status (prestige) motorcar. Females rated the male target model significantly
higher when seated in a high status car compared to the same male seated in a neutral status car
ðp,:01Þ. No differences were evident between male ratings of the female positioned in the high and
neutral status context ðp.:05Þ. Values ¼mean ^SEM.*Denotes significant difference between high
and neutral status conditions ðp,:01Þ.
Status manipulation and attractiveness 75
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simple main effect analysis revealed no significant difference between the high-status
and the neutral status female target model condition by male participants in their
attractiveness ratings (F,1, partial h
2
¼.008), however, females rated the male target
model significantly more attractive when the male target was seated in the high status,
compared to the neutral status motor-car [Fð1;236Þ¼42:3, p,:01, partial h2¼:15].
Additional simple main effect analysis showed significantly higher ratings for the males
rating the female compared to the females rating the male in the neutral status context
[Fð1;236Þ¼42:3, p,:01, partial h2¼:08] but no sex differences in opposite-sex
ratings were observed for targets seated in the high status context [Fð1;236Þ¼1:8,
p.:05, partial h
2
¼.002].
Discussion
The results show that unlike in the case of female attractiveness, male attractiveness can
be enhanced experimentally by manipulating status. In this case, status was
manipulated through the implementation of photographic images that depicted target
models matched for attractiveness seated either in a ‘high status’ (Silver Bentley
Continental GT) or ‘neutral status’ (Red Ford Fiesta ST) motor-car. The male target model
was rated as significantly more attractive by females despite being captured
photographically in the same clothing and expressing the same facial expressions in
both cars. Males were not in any way influenced by the status manipulation in their
rating of the female’s attractiveness (again same clothing and facial expressions were
maintained) as evidenced by similar attractiveness ratings between high and neutral
status conditions. Moreover, these sex differences were clearly a result of the perceived
attractiveness of the target model in a specific context and not the motor-car per se (as
there were no differences in the aesthetic attractiveness ratings of the high status car
between females and males) or the attractiveness of the target models as both had
previously been matched for attractiveness.
It would appear that even though recent years have witnessed dramatic increases in
female ownership of prestige or luxury cars, such ownership does not enhance female
attractiveness, as is the case with male attractiveness. Confidence in this conclusion is
justifiably high, however, the results do show a main effect of sex (i.e. higher overall
ratings for males rating the female target compared to females rating the male target).
This contradicts the earlier preliminary study, which revealed that the female and male
target models were matched for attractiveness. This can feasibly be explained by the fact
that different samples were used in the earlier attractiveness-matching prerequisite
exercise and the main study. A student population was used to match potential targets
for attractiveness whereas participants in the main study were recruited from a busy city
centre, arguably encompassing a broader range of socio-economic classes and clearly a
wider age range. Also, it would appear that traditionally women often appear to give
lower or more conservative judgment scores pertaining to attractiveness than males
(Gladue & Delaney, 1990; Reis, Nezlek, & Wheeler, 1980).
What must be emphasized is the subtlety of the cues used to manipulate high status
in the current study. The photographs used only contained a single highly minimalist
cue relating to wealth and status (i.e. the motor-car). Moreover, as participant’s attention
was not explicitly drawn to the car it could be argued that the processing of high status
stimuli by females may occur at an unconscious level. Future studies will adopt eye-
tracker type methodologies to determine precisely what the sexes focus on when
76 Michael J. Dunn and Robert Searle
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making judgments of attractiveness in the presence of sex relevant contextual cues or
possibly explore qualitatively what factors both sexes consider when arriving at
decisions in such contexts. The fact that males appeared uninfluenced by the high status
contextual cue (the female was rated similarly for attractiveness in both conditions)
suggests that men do indeed focus if not exclusively on physical attraction then at the
very least they discount information that women clearly take account of. Grammer
(1989), in a review of the extensive social sciences literature on mate choice
preferences elicited by interview and questionnaire, found that men typically consider
only a single cue (attractiveness) while women consider as many as a dozen different
traits, including both social and economic qualities. It has been concluded that although
males are not repelled by female social dominance and high status such traits may be
irrelevant as mate selection criteria (Sadalla, Kenrick, & Vershure, 1987; Townsend,
1998). Hassebrauk (1998) using a visual process method found that men do pay more
attention to a potential mates physical appearance, in particular features indicative of
youthfulness and fertility than women and needed less time to determine whether or
not they regarded a potential mate as physically attractive. Although not quantified, male
participants in the current study did almost unanimously appear to arrive at their
attractiveness rating before females. Other supportive evidence highlighting the
centrality of physical attractiveness to males was shown by Aharon et al. (2001), using a
fMRI neuroimaging procedure. They found that the nucleus accumbens becomes
especially activated in males upon exposure to attractive but not to average female faces
or other male faces. Recently, however, Maner, Gailliot, and DeWall (2007) using a visual
cueing task found that both sexes attention was biased towards attractive women but
not attractive men and that this bias was more marked in non-romantically involved men
and in women who felt less secure in their current relationship.
Prior to the current study, other photographically presented sex-salient cues have
been shown to influence male attractiveness to females. For example, La Cerra (1994)
found that females but not males rated the same opposite sex target as more
attractive when targets were shown to interact more positively with an infant than
when they were depicted ignoring the same child crying. It could be postulated
that females are influenced by such behaviours as a ‘willingness to invest’ by males as
it is a cue that was highly adaptive for females to be sensitive to (Buss, 1989) as is
sensitivity to status. Also, recent findings have elucidated another important factor
used by females in the evaluation of male attractiveness this being other female’s
perceived attractiveness of a given male. For example, Graziano, Jensen-Campbell,
Shebilske, and Lundgren (1993) showed that in judging male attractiveness females
appear to be influenced by experimentally manipulated negative ratings given by
fictional females. However, more recently, Jones, DeBruine, Little, Burriss, and
Fienberg (2007) found that female participants rated a male target as more attractive
if they themselves had observed another female smiling at the target and that this
‘social transmission effect’ persisted after the smiling confederate was no longer
present. Future studies will explore the possibility that male targets seated in a ‘high
status’ motor-car will likewise retain their enhanced attractiveness without this
stimuli’s continued presence.
In conclusion it would appear that male but not female attractiveness can indeed be
enhanced by photographically presenting opposite-sex target models seated within a
prestige or luxury motor-car. These findings are broadly supportive of earlier research
demonstrating that cues that are purported to be more salient in the consideration of a
potential partner in one sex compared to another can be manipulated experimentally,
Status manipulation and attractiveness 77
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and that this manipulation is perhaps more efficaciously achieved by presenting such
cues visually. However, as is the case with all self-reported preferences (naturalistic
stimuli, verbal descriptions, or isolated cues) it would be unwise to assume that such
stated preferences invariably reflect mate choices in the real world (see Eastwick &
Finkel, 2008; Todd et al., 2007).
Despite a noticeable increase in the purchase and ownership of prestige motorcars
by females, the results of this study suggest that any impression that may be made by
female ownership of prestige motorcars by males may be restricted more to a ‘non-
sexual attractiveness’ appreciation. Also, the results contradict the ‘structural
powerlessness’ hypothesis, i.e. the belief that as economic differences diminish men
and women will become more alike, as the rise in female economic fortune has not, it
would appear, emancipated them from attraction to cues that are indices of wealth and
status in males. Future studies using a similar methodology employed in the current
study will also explore the potential attractiveness enhancing effects of manipulated
prestige-car ownership on target models of different ages to determine if for example
the attractiveness-diminishing effects of age can be attenuated by high status
manipulation and to explore potential differences in wealth and status cue manipulation
on attractiveness ratings across socio-economic classes. Finally, limitations of the current
study may be that the focus has been exclusively directed at male as opposed to female
attractiveness enhancing contextual cues. As males appear to de-emphasize, if not
totally ignore non-physical attraction attributes when making attractiveness judgments
(see Grammer, 1989) then future studies that attempt to enhance female attractiveness,
for example manipulation of clothing to enhance waist-to-hip ratio could be undertaken.
Also, an examination of same-sex judgments of attractiveness using the current
methodology should be employed to unequivocally discount the possibility that the
results of this study are simply reflective of a sex difference in the effects of public
information on mate preferences as opposed to arguably more fundamental sex
differences in the processing of sex-relevant adaptive cues.
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Received 28 October 2008; revised version received 7 January 2009
80 Michael J. Dunn and Robert Searle
... Similarly, other researchers have observed simultaneous face-related At the top of the panel, we can see friend effects are driven by the target's attractiveness (increasing target attractiveness pushes friend effects towards negative), the group's attractiveness (increasing group attractiveness drives friends effects towards negative), group size (e.g., number of surrounding 'friends'), the social positive effect (e.g., as supported by identical target and friend images) and a memory effect (i.e., when faces are rated outside of view). Other effects (e.g., objects' influences on facial attractiveness, e.g., Carragher et al., 2019;Dunn & Searle, 2010) need further clarification that they are distinct from the confirmed target and group effects; hence the dotted line. Friend effects can therefore be viewed as an umbrella term that encompasses both the positive (i. ...
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... High social status endows an individual with access to other vital resources, including strengthened social influence and better health, both physically and psychologically (Marmot, 2004;Nelissen and Meijers, 2011;Otterbring, 2021a). Conspicuous consumption-a proxy for high social status-facilitates the attainment of other adaptive goals linked to survival and reproduction (Penn, 2003;Saad, 2007;Miller, 2009;Otterbring et al., 2020), such as attracting mates (Townsend and Levy, 1990;Griskevicius et al., 2007;DeWall and Maner, 2008;Dunn and Searle, 2010). The latter is especially true for men because women, on average, prioritize the financial prospects of a potential mate more than men do (Buss, 1989;Li and Kenrick, 2006;Valentine et al., 2020). ...
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Across three studies, the present research examined beliefs and real-world responses pertaining to whether bar patrons' self-rated attractiveness would be higher later in the night. Contrary to beliefs held by lay people (Study 1A) and researchers in relevant disciplines (Study 1B), the results of a field study (Study 2) revealed that patrons perceived themselves as more attractive at later times, regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed. Relationship status moderated this time-contingent finding, which only applied to patrons who were single. However, consistent with sexual strategies theory, this interplay was further moderated by the patrons' sex. Men rated themselves as more attractive later in the night regardless of their relationship status, whereas this "pretty" pattern only held for single women. Taken together, the current work highlights the concept of time in forming consumers' evaluative judgments and adds to the literature on the closing time effect.
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The finding that women are attracted to men older than themselves whereas men are attracted to relatively younger women has been explained by social psychologists in terms of economic exchange rooted in traditional sex-role norms. An alternative evolutionary model suggests that males and females follow different reproductive strategies, and predicts a more complex relationship between gender and age preferences. In particular, males' preference for relatively Younger females should be minimal during early mating years, but should become more pronounced as the male gets older. Young females are expected to prefer somewhat older males during their early years and to change less as they age. We briefly review relevant theory and present results of six studies testing this prediction. Study 1 finds support for this gender-differentiated prediction in age preferences expressed in personal advertisements. Study 2 supports the prediction with marriage statistics from two U.S. cities. Study 3 examines the cross-generational robustness of the phenomenon, and finds the same pattern in marriage statistics from 1923. Study 4 replicates Study 1 using matrimonial advertisements from two European countries, and from India. Study 5 finds a consistent pattern in marriages recorded from 1913 through 1939 on a small island in the Philippines. Study 6 reveals the same pattern in singles advertisements placed by financially successful American women and men. We consider the limitations of previous normative and evolutionary explanations of age preferences and discuss the advantages of expanding previous models to include the life history perspective.
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A study of a U.S. national sample of females ages 25 through 40 reveals a moderate association of education, and a weaker association of physical attractiveness, with husbands' occupational prestige. Consistent with earlier findings reported by Elder, the contribution of education to females' status attainment through marriage seems to vary positively with level of origins and the contribution of attractiveness seems to vary inversely, except that the apparent effects for farmers' daughters resemble those for high-origin rather than low-origin females. The contribution of attractiveness seems almost nil for both farmers' daughters and high-origin females and does not seem to vary systematically by age. Among daughters of low-manual workers, education and attractiveness seem to interact, so that each enhances the utility of the other. It is concluded that the exchange involved in mate selection must be very complex and that the major exchange theories of mate selection probably underestimate the influence of highly variable needs, preferences and tastes.