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Although antiexploitation adaptations, such as cheater-detection mechanisms, have been well explored, comparatively little research has focused on identifying adaptations for exploitation. The present study had two purposes: (1) to identify observable cues that afford information about which women are sexually exploitable and (2) to test the hypothesis that men find cues to sexual exploitability sexually attractive, an adaptation that functions to motivate pursuit of accessible women. Male participants rated photographs of women who displayed varying levels of hypothesized cues to exploitability. We identified 22 cues indicative of sexual exploitability. Nineteen of these cues were correlated significantly with sexual attractiveness, supporting the central hypothesis. Results suggest that sexual attraction to exploitability cues functions to motivate men to employ exploitative strategies towards accessible targets, and contribute foundational knowledge to the diverse classes of cues that afford information about which women are and are not sexually exploitable.
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Original Article
Sexual exploitability: observable cues and their link to sexual attraction
Cari D. Goetz, Judith A. Easton, David M.G. Lewis, David M. Buss
The University of Texas at Austin
Initial receipt 10 May 2011; final revision received 12 December 2011
Although antiexploitation adaptations, such as cheater-detection mechanisms, have been well explored, comparatively little research has
focused on identifying adaptations for exploitation. The present study had two purposes: (1) to identify observable cues that afford
information about which women are sexually exploitable and (2) to test the hypothesis that men find cues to sexual exploitability sexually
attractive, an adaptation that functions to motivate pursuit of accessible women. Male participants rated photographs of women who
displayed varying levels of hypothesized cues to exploitability. We identified 22 cues indicative of sexual exploitability. Nineteen of these
cues were correlated significantly with sexual attractiveness, supporting the central hypothesis. Results suggest that sexual attraction to
exploitability cues functions to motivate men to employ exploitative strategies towards accessible targets, and contribute foundational
knowledge to the diverse classes of cues that afford information about which women are and are not sexually exploitable.
© 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Sexual attractiveness; Exploitability
1. Introduction
Exploitative resource acquisition strategies are a class of
strategies designed to facilitate resource accrual by taking
advantage of other organisms through deception, coercion, or
force (Buss & Duntley, 2008). Much of the work examining
the domain of exploitability focuses on antiexploitation
adaptations, such as cheater-detection mechanisms and
mechanisms devoted to reactions to being exploited (e.g.,
Cosmides & Tooby, 2005; Fehr, Fischbacher, & Gachter,
2002; Price, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2002), rather than on the
design of adaptations that produce exploitative strategies.
Ancestrally, mate acquisition was one domain in which
exploitative strategies could have been an effective means to
achieve successful mating outcomes, particularly if the
desired outcome was a short-term sexual relationship. Cues
of ease of exploitability are one source of information to
which mechanisms for exploitation should be sensitive (Buss
& Duntley, 2008). We examined three classes of cues that, if
detectable by men, could have enabled them to assess a
woman's vulnerability to sexual exploitation. In addition to
examining cues diagnostic of sexual exploitability, we
investigated the hypothesis that men would find women
displaying cues of sexual exploitability to be sexually
attractive, but not attractive as long-term mates, which
provides motivational impetus for pursuing women with an
increased probability of sexual access.
1.1. Sexual exploitability
Short-term mate acquisition is one domain in which
exploitative strategies would have been adaptive for males.
Because ancestral males and females differed in their
minimum obligatory parental investment (Trivers, 1972),
the calculus for determining whether to engage in a sexual
relationship and how much investment to place in a
relationship differs between the sexes. The sexual conflict
fueled by these differences in mating goals and preferences
would have created two general contexts in which an
exploitative strategy, rather than a cooperative one, could
have been adaptive. First, in situations in which a female did
not want to have sex but a man did, a strategy using some
form of exploitation could have been a way to achieve his
goal. Second, a man might adopt an exploitative strategy
when he sought casual sex, but the woman sought a high-
investment relationship (Buss, 2003).
Research on forms of sexual exploitation such as rape and
sexual coercion suggests that selection could have favored
Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417 426
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (C.D. Goetz).
1090-5138/$ see front matter © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
rape in contexts that lowered the potential costs associated
with using these strategies. Circumstances such as warfare or
when women were separated from protective kin could have
resulted in lower costs of engaging in exploitative strategies
(Figueredo et al., 2001; Gottschall, 2004; Lalumière, Harris,
Quincey, & Rice, 2005; Thornhill & Palmer, 2000). This
suggests that the assessment of a woman's immediate
vulnerability may be central to the activation of psycholog-
ical mechanisms related to sexual exploitation.
We have thus far broadly referred to exploitative
strategieswithout differentiating between potential types
of exploitation. We propose that tactics for sexual
exploitation fall under four somewhat distinct, although
perhaps overlapping, classes: sexual seduction, verbal or
nonverbal pressure, deception, and sexual assault. Sexual
seduction is the act of charming or convincing someone into
having sex. Seduction differs from courtship, which may
include long-term commitment and investment as goals.
Pressure involves relentless persistence, threats, or coercion
to induce an individual into having sex. Deception is
dishonesty about intentions, likelihood of further commit-
ment, or personal characteristics such as those sought by
members of the opposite sexa phenomenon well
documented in human mating (Haselton, Buss, Oubaid, &
Angleitner, 2005). Sexual assault involves using physical
force, or the threat of physical force, to force sexual
intercourse. Although some cues to sexual exploitability
may be uniquely diagnostic of susceptibility to one type of
exploitation (e.g., cues to being less physically formidable
might make a woman more vulnerable to sexual assault but
not deception), others may be indicative of multiple types of
sexual exploitability (e.g., lower intelligence may make a
woman more susceptible to seduction and deception).
Assessing these strategies discretely enabled us to determine
cues associated with vulnerability to different types of
exploitative strategies that vary in their nature (e.g.,
psychologically exploitative vs. physically exploitative)
and severity (e.g., sexual seduction vs. sexual assault).
Although each exploitative strategy may have distinct
characteristics, during any given attempt to exploit a
woman, a man may employ multiple tactics from different
classes of strategies (e.g., an attempt at sexual seduction
may also involve the use of deception). Thus, we included
all four in the current study to capture a wide array of cues
and to better understand which cues are indicative of
vulnerability to which strategies.
1.2. Cues to sexual exploitability
1.2.1. Psychological cues
Male adaptations to detect cues to sexual exploitability
may be designed to pick up on several classes of cues.
First, men may be sensitive to different psychological traits
indicating that a woman is sexually exploitable. One
category of psychological cues is traits that suggest that a
woman is mentally or emotionally manipulable and could
potentially be persuaded to engage in sexual intercourse.
Low self-esteem and low assertiveness are associated with
having experienced sexual coercion (Greene & Navarro,
1998; Testa & Dermen, 1999). Women low in assertive-
ness and self-esteem may be particular targets of
exploitation because they will be less likely to resist
exploitative tactics. Cues indicative of immaturity and
naiveté also fall into this category. They suggest that a
woman has less experience interacting with men, making
her more susceptible to exploitation. Low cognitive ability
is another cue indicating greater exploitability because it
signals ease of manipulability or deceivability. Thus,
sensitivity to such cues may be one design feature of
male tactics for sexual exploitation.
Another category of psychological cues are those that
indicate flirtatiousness, promiscuity, and more permissive
sexual attitudes. These characteristics may indicate greater
ease of sexual exploitation by (1) causing women to put
themselves in situations where they are at a greater risk of
sexual exploitation and (2) providing men with opportunities
to approach women under the guise of responding to the
women's flirtatiousness, thereby facilitating a later attempt at
exploitation. Women with unrestricted sociosexuality (indi-
cating a positive orientation towards short-term mating)
report a greater likelihood of being approached by a male
with sexual intentions (Sakaguchi & Hasegawa, 2006b).
Furthermore, more promiscuous women and women with
multiple sexual partners report being more likely to have
been sexually victimized (Greene & Navarro, 1998; Testa &
Dermen, 1999). Research suggests that men can identify
women's sociosexual orientation through brief interactions
(Stillman & Maner, 2009), and other work has identified a
variety of nonverbal cues indicative of flirtatiousness
(Moore, 1985, 2002). Being able to identify these traits
could serve a dual purpose. These traits may signal that a
woman is more prone to engaging in sexual behavior by
choice, and by indicating greater ease of sexual access, they
also may inadvertently signal greater sexual exploitability.
A third category of psychological traits consists of cues
that indicate recklessness or risk taking. This includes
personality characteristics such as impulsivity, attention
seeking, and being prone to take risks. Although displaying
these characteristics may not indicate a woman is currently
exploitable, they indicate a greater likelihood she will
eventually be in dangerous situations, such as being alone
or intoxicated. Drinking alcohol, one form of risky behavior,
is positively correlated with sexual victimization (e.g., Testa
& Dermen, 1999). In the modern environment, drinking
alcohol and engaging in party culture may result in being
perceived as reckless and exploitable.
1.2.2. Incapacitation cues
Cues suggesting current incapacitation represent another set
of cues to sexual exploitability. Intoxication, fatigue, or other
forms of cognitive impairment could make a woman less able
to resist tactics of sexual exploitation. Other conditions related
418 C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
to her current level of physical protection, such as being alone
or isolated, compared to being with bodyguardssuch as
friends, family members, or a mate, may also provide
information about her current sexual exploitability.
1.2.3. Physical cues
Finally, physical traits may indicate a lack of formida-
bility to resist sexual exploitation. Characteristics such as a
shorter gait, slower walking speed, and low energy are
associated with being rated as easier to attack (Gunns,
Johnston, & Hudson, 2002). Women with a shorter gait
and slower walking speed are also rated as more likely to
be targets of sexual advances (Sakaguchi & Hasegawa,
2006a). Static cues, such as being short or small, may also
indicate exploitability.
In sum, cues to sexual exploitability are conceptualized
into three broad classes: (1) psychological cues indicating a
woman is mentally or emotionally manipulable or is flirtatious
or promiscuous, or revealing a risk-taking proclivity; (2)
incapacitation cues indicating a woman is temporarily or
currently in a state in which she could be exploited; and (3)
physical cues indicating a lack of formidability to resist
sexually exploitative tactics.
1.3. Sexual attraction to exploitability
Exploitative tactics typically require motivational impetus
to fuel their enactment. We hypothesized that the emotion of
sexual attraction functions as one such mechanism. Further-
more, we hypothesized that cues in the classes described
above would render a woman attractive as a short-term mate,
motivating an exploitative strategy. Traditionally, re-
searchers have characterized signs of fertility, health, and
other markers of mate quality as indicators of attractiveness
(e.g., Fink & Penton-Voak, 2002; Gangestad & Scheyd,
2005; Singh, 1993; Sugiyama, 2005). Recognition of cues to
exploitability serves a different function. They are hypoth-
esized to be associated with sexual attractiveness because
they indicate a woman could be exploited for a short-term
sexual opportunity. By making a woman more exploitable,
these characteristics might also make her less attractive as a
long-term mate because a man would be risking investment
in a mate who could be sexually exploited by other men. We
hypothesized that cues to exploitability would be uniquely
related to short-term mate attractiveness and inversely
correlated with long-term mate attractiveness.
Although the hypothesized link between sexual exploit-
ability cues and sexual attractiveness has yet to be explored
directly, some circumstantial evidence exists. When asked
to rate women's facial attractiveness (without differentiat-
ing between long-term and short-term mate attractiveness),
both men and women found faces with cues to unrestricted
sociosexuality more attractive (Boothroyd, Jones, Burt,
DeBruine, & Perrett, 2008). However, when asked
specifically about long-term mate attractiveness, men
found women with facial cues related to unrestricted
sociosexuality less desirable as long-term mates (Campbell
et al., 2009). This suggests that more permissive attitudes
towards short-term mating enhance women's attractiveness
in short-term mating contexts. These cues may be seen as
more attractive because they signal that a woman is more
likely to voluntarily engage in sexual behavior and hence
be more sexually accessible, or because they indicate ease
of sexual exploitability.
Previous research also suggests that cues to emotional and
psychological manipulability may be linked with sexual
attractiveness. Cross-culturally, men prefer younger women
as mates because they are higher in reproductive value and
fertility than older women (Buss, 1989). Youth may also
enhance sexual attractiveness because it is a cue to
immaturity and naiveté, suggesting a higher probability of
payoff for an exploitative strategy. Intelligence is another
trait valued in long-term mates; however, men's preference
for intelligent mates is relaxed when men are asked about
strictly sexual relationships (Kenrick, Groth, Trost, &
Sadalla, 1993; Kenrick, Sadalla, Groth, & Trost, 1990).
Rather than simply lowering their standards for intelligence
in short-term mates, men may prefer (consciously or
unconsciously) less intelligent mates in this context because
they are more exploitable and therefore more sexually
attractive. We suggest that this logic applies to other cues to
sexual exploitabilityany recurrently observable cue that
indicates a man will be more successful when attempting to
implement an exploitative sexual strategy will increase
perceptions of a woman's sexual attractiveness to motivate
him to attempt to use that strategy.
1.4. Current study
We conducted the present study in four steps to identify
cues to sexual exploitability and to test the hypothesis that
cues to sexual exploitability are indicators of sexual
attractiveness. First, we used an act nomination procedure
to generate previously undocumented potential cues to
sexual exploitability. The research team then assembled
digital photographs of women displaying varying levels of
these cues. The photographs were coded to identify which,
and to what degree, cues were displayed in each image.
Finally, male participants rated the attractiveness and
exploitability of the women in the photographs.
2. Method
2.1. Participants
Participants were students enrolled in an introductory
psychology course and received partial course credit for their
participation. Seventy-six males participated, ranging in age
from 18 to 47 (M=19.59±3.76). To avoid fatigue effects,
participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups.
One group viewed a randomized set of 36 photographed
women (out of the total of 110), and the other two groups
419C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
Table 1
Correlations between hypothesized cues to sexual exploitability and mate attractiveness
Positively correlated cues Seduce Pressure Deceive Assault Overall
Easy.81⁎⁎⁎ .73⁎⁎⁎ .72⁎⁎⁎ .48⁎⁎⁎ .75⁎⁎⁎
Immature .69⁎⁎⁎ .63⁎⁎⁎ .68⁎⁎⁎ .56⁎⁎⁎ .69⁎⁎⁎
Intoxicated .69⁎⁎⁎ .66⁎⁎⁎ .62⁎⁎⁎ .51⁎⁎⁎ .67⁎⁎⁎
Reckless .70⁎⁎⁎ .59⁎⁎⁎ .63⁎⁎⁎ .38⁎⁎⁎ .62⁎⁎⁎
Promiscuous .72⁎⁎⁎ .58⁎⁎⁎ .62⁎⁎⁎ .33⁎⁎⁎ .61⁎⁎⁎
Partying .68⁎⁎⁎ .56⁎⁎⁎ .54⁎⁎⁎ .35⁎⁎⁎ .58⁎⁎⁎
Flirty .60⁎⁎⁎ .52⁎⁎⁎ .48⁎⁎⁎ .30⁎⁎ .52⁎⁎⁎
Promiscuous friends .53⁎⁎⁎ .43⁎⁎⁎ .47⁎⁎⁎ .18 .44⁎⁎⁎
Attention seeking .52⁎⁎⁎ .33⁎⁎⁎ .41⁎⁎⁎ .17 .39⁎⁎⁎
Young .17 .31⁎⁎ .31⁎⁎ .36⁎⁎⁎ .31⁎⁎
Sleepy .25⁎⁎⁎ .32⁎⁎⁎ .27⁎⁎⁎ .29⁎⁎⁎ .30⁎⁎⁎
Come hither look .35⁎⁎⁎ .23.27⁎⁎ .09 .26⁎⁎
Revealing clothing .35⁎⁎⁎ .25.29⁎⁎ .07 .26⁎⁎
Touching breast .15 .26⁎⁎ .14 .38⁎⁎⁎ .24
Open posture .38⁎⁎⁎ .22⁎⁎ .22⁎⁎ .02 .22⁎⁎
Alone .18 .17 .11 .13 .16
Ring (wedding/engagement) .23.14 .14 .09 .16
Tight clothing .27⁎⁎ .14 .18 .04 .15
Friendly .11 .20.11 .11 .14
Punk .17 .11 .21.01 .14
Materialistic .24.09 .15 .04 .13
Touching body .09 .11 .07 .16 .11
Tattoos .06 .08 .12 .13 .11
Tucking hair .13 .10 .05 .10 .10
At a wedding .15 .04 .00 .15 .09
Over-shoulder look .06 .06 .05 .09 .07
Fat .08 .10 .09 .09 .06
Touching face/hair .11 .09 .09 .08 .06
Short .06 .06 .01 .15 .04
Lip lick/bite .02 .04 .01 .01 .02
Touching thigh .02 .01 .03 .01 .01
Touching knee .03 .05 .04 .02 .01
Lying back .03 .00 .02 .04 .01
Laughing .01 .04 .03 .03 .00
Negatively correlated cues Seduce Pressure Deceive Assault Overall
Intelligent .63⁎⁎⁎ .54⁎⁎⁎ .59⁎⁎⁎ .31⁎⁎⁎ .56⁎⁎⁎
Shy .53⁎⁎⁎ .35⁎⁎⁎ .42⁎⁎⁎ .11 .39⁎⁎⁎
Age .23.39⁎⁎⁎ .36⁎⁎⁎ .39⁎⁎⁎ .36⁎⁎⁎
Old .18 .34⁎⁎⁎ .32⁎⁎ .39⁎⁎⁎ .33⁎⁎
Passed out .26⁎⁎ .25⁎⁎ .24.24.27⁎⁎
Flushed face .30⁎⁎ .28⁎⁎ .26.14 .26⁎⁎
Anxious .30⁎⁎ .28⁎⁎ .23.03 .23
Sucking on a straw .21.17 .19 .22.21
Being touched . .20
Standing near men .16 .19.11 .11 .15
Sad .18 .19 .11 .03 .14
Prostitute .12 .11 .11 .12 .12
Piercings .15 .07 .16 .02 .11
Skinny .12 .15 .13 .04 .10
Tall .01 .11 .07 .22 .10
Canted neck .12 .08 .16 .01 .10
Flushed neck .13 .08 .10 .05 .10
Dancing .11 .09 .13 .01 .09
Touching others .15 .09 .14 .05 .09
Distressed .13 .13 .06 .04 .08
Open legs .10 .09 .09 .02 .08
Asleep .00 .10 .08 .09 .07
Crying .00 .01 .11 .06 .05
Raised arms .01 .05 .04 .09 .05
Mostly with men .00 .07 .00 .05 .03
Ear piercing .11 .03 .04 .07 .02
420 C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
each viewed a randomized set of 37. Each group constituted
approximately one third of the total participant sample.
2.2. Materials
2.2.1. Cue Selection
We determined hypothesized cues based on a literature
search and an act nomination procedure (Buss & Craik,
1983). The act nomination procedure is useful because it can
provide novel information by pooling the collective insights
of large samples of observersinsights that may not yet
have been explored in the literature and that researchers may
not have been able to theoretically generate themselves a
priori. An initial set of 194 (103 male, 91 female, age range
1852, M=21.63±5.96) participants nominated specific
actions, cues, body postures, attitudes, and personality
characteristics in three categories: indicators of sexual
exploitability, indicators of sexual interest toward one
person, and indicators of general sexual availability or
openness to sexual activity. Because the study's goals
included examining aspects of sexual attractiveness other
than just sexual exploitability, we retained cues from all
categories in the final list. After combining similar cues and
eliminating cues not assessable from a photograph (e.g.,
feminine voice), these cues were added to a list of cues
generated via literature search. This list totaled 88 cues.
2.2.2. Photograph selection
Researchers collected photographs from publically avail-
able sources on the Internet (i.e., sites that did not require a
password or login). We used a search engine to find images of
women displaying varying levels of the hypothesized cues.
The researchers independently gathered photos and together
selected images of 110 women displaying varying levels of
the cues of interest. Photographs were coded to determine the
degree to which each woman displayed each of the 88 cues.
Two of the researchers independently coded cues that could
be objectively observed as present or absent (e.g., tattoos,
being touched by others). There were no discrepancies
between the two researchers' judgments of these 33 cues.
Four raters blind to the study's hypotheses rated the other 55
cues. The raters were asked, How much do each of the
following characteristics describe the individual in the
picture?Raters responded using a 1 (not at all)to7
(extremely) rating scale. Following a procedure similar to
Vazire and colleagues' (2008) for eliminating cues with low
reliability, we calculated the average intraclass correlation
coefficient (ICC) for each cue to ensure agreement among the
raters. Twenty-five cues had an average measures ICC less
than .70 and were eliminated, leaving 30 cues with an average
measures ICC ranging from .70 to .90 (mean=.79). To
calculate the rating means, rater's responses were averaged
for each of these 30 traits. If one rater indicated he or she
could not provide a rating for a particular photograph, the
average was computed from the three other raters. If two or
more raters could not provide a rating, that photograph was
excluded from analyses for that particular trait. These 30
cues, along with the 33 cues coded as present or absent by the
researchers, resulted in the final assessment of 63 cues in our
set of images.
2.2.3. Participant measures
Participants (N=76) responded to seven questions asses-
sing each woman's perceived mate attractiveness and
exploitability. The three mate attractiveness questions
assessed the women's overall attractiveness (How attractive
is this woman overall?), short-term mate attractiveness
[How attractive would this woman be to a man as a short-
term mate (e.g., one-night stand, casual sex, etc.)?], and
long-term mate attractiveness [How attractive would this
woman be to a man as a long-term mate (e.g., committed
romantic relationship, wife, etc.)?]. The four exploitability
questions asked about the four proposed sexual exploitation
tactics. Participants were first asked, How easy would it be
for a man to seduce this woman into engaging into sexual
intercourse?The next two questions used the same verbiage,
but the word seducewas replaced with pressurein the
second exploitability question and with deceivein the third.
The fourth question read, How easy would it be for a man to
sexually assault this woman?Participants responded to all
questions using a 1 (not at all)to5(extremely) rating scale.
We phrased questions in the third person rather than first
person to avoid underreporting due to the sensitive and taboo
nature of the questions being asked. Participants also
completed a brief demographics questionnaire.
2.3. Procedure
A research assistant assigned the participant to a computer
terminal with a prepared slideshow of the photographs. The
research assistant instructed the participant on how to advance
through the slideshow of images and record his responses on a
Negatively correlated cues Seduce Pressure Deceive Assault Overall
Confident .12 .02 .02 .22.01
Smiling .01 .05 .02 .01 .01
Finger on lips .00 .00 .04 .05 .00
Note. Of the 315 correlations presented in Table 1, 66 correlations were significant beyond the .001 level, where b1 would be expected by chance alone; 89 were
significant beyond the .01 level, where 4 would be expected by chance alone; and 111 were significant beyond the .05 level, where 16 would be expected by
chance alone.
⁎⁎⁎pb.001; ⁎⁎pb.01; pb.05.
Table 1 (continued)
421C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
provided grid, and thenleft the room to allow the participant to
privately record his responses. To avoid fatigue effects, after
25 min, the research assistant reentered the room with the
demographics questionnaire and instructed the participant to
complete it before viewing the remaining images. Participants
were thanked and debriefed upon completion.
3. Results
To ensure that there were no systematic differences in
attractiveness or exploitability ratings based on which of the
three groups of pictures was viewed, we conducted a one-
way analysis of variance to compare means between the
three groups for each measure of mate attractiveness and
exploitability. There were no significant group differences
for any of the dependent measures except for the questions
about seducing (Group 1: M=3.09±.46; Group 2: M=3.18±
.39; Group 3: M=2.89±.38; F
=4.73, pb.05) and
pressuring into sex (Group 1: M=2.95±.46; Group 2:
M=2.87±.39; Group 3: M=2.66±.43, F
=4.49, pb.05).
Because there was no reason to believe that these differences
would affect interpretation of the study's results and because
the majority of our measures were void of between-group
differences, we proceeded with analyses as planned.
To determine which cues were diagnostic of exploit-
ability, Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated
between the rating means for each cue and the mean of
participant responses for each exploitability measure for
each picture (Table 1). Because the exploitability measures
were highly correlated with one another (M=.90, range:
.79.97), a measure of overall exploitability was calculated
by averaging the means of the four exploitability measures
for each picture and correlating those averages with the cue
ratings means. The participant means were also correlated
with the dichotomous cues coded by the researchers.
Overall attractiveness was strongly correlated with long-
term mate attractiveness [r(108)=.91, pb.01] and short-
term mate attractiveness [r(108)=.95, pb.01], but not with
most measures of exploitability [seduce: r(108)=.15,
p=.12; pressure: r(108)=.09, p=.36; deceive: r(108)=.09,
p=.36; assault: r(108)=.41, pb.01]. Because the goal was
to independently isolate each cue's relationship with
Table 2
Correlations between hypothesized cues to sexual exploitability and mate
Positively correlated cues Short-term mate Long-term mate
Easy.65⁎⁎⁎ .60⁎⁎⁎
Immature .62⁎⁎⁎ .62⁎⁎⁎
Intoxicated .49⁎⁎⁎ .40⁎⁎⁎
Reckless .58⁎⁎⁎ .69⁎⁎⁎
Promiscuous .63⁎⁎⁎ .64⁎⁎⁎
Partying .51⁎⁎⁎ .46⁎⁎⁎
Flirty .54⁎⁎⁎ .37⁎⁎⁎
Promiscuous friends .54⁎⁎⁎ .49⁎⁎⁎
Attention seeking .49⁎⁎⁎ .56⁎⁎⁎
Young .25⁎⁎ .12
Sleepy .24.17
Come hither look .29⁎⁎ .26⁎⁎
Revealing clothing .47⁎⁎⁎ .48⁎⁎⁎
Touching breast .00 .06
Open body posture .39⁎⁎⁎ .29⁎⁎
Alone .09 .07
Ring (wedding/engagement) .10 .01
Tight clothing .36⁎⁎⁎ .33⁎⁎
Friendly .08 .30⁎⁎
Punk .19.45⁎⁎⁎
Materialistic .24.30⁎⁎
Touching body .05 .15
Tattoos .01 .02
Tucking hair .14 .13
At a wedding .15 .07
Over-shoulder look .15 .09
Fat .11 .02
Touching face/hair .06 .03
Short .07 .07
Lip lick/bite .02 .09
Touching thigh .07 .08
Touching knee .07 .18
Lying back .07 .06
Laughing .14 .24
Negatively correlated cues Short-term mate Long-term mate
Intelligent .60⁎⁎⁎ .67⁎⁎⁎
Shy .48⁎⁎⁎ .51⁎⁎⁎
Age .27⁎⁎ .12
Old .22⁎⁎ .11
Passed out .12 .20
Flushed face .15 .06
Anxious .18 .05
Sucking on a straw .26⁎⁎ .07
Being touched .21.03
Standing near men .00 .05
Sad .17 .14
Prostitute .10 .18
Piercings .18 .26⁎⁎
Skinny .10 .10
Tall .08 .00
Canted neck .18 .12
Flushed neck .16 .10
Dancing .04 .12
Touching others .12 .09
Distressed .05 .23
Open legs .12 .16
Asleep .00 .07
Crying .14 .01
Raised arms .07 .02
Mostly with men .08 .10
Negatively correlated cues Short-term mate Long-term mate
Ear piercings .02 .01
Confident .17 .04
Smiling .12 .23
Finger on lips .01 .02
Note. Of the 126 correlations presented in Table 2, 27 correlations were
significant beyond the .001 level, where b1 would be expected by chance
alone; 38 were significant beyond the .01 level, where 2 would be expected
by chance alone; and 45 were significant beyond the .05 level, where 7
would be expected by chance alone.
⁎⁎⁎pb.001; ⁎⁎pb.01; pb.05.
Table 2 (continued)
422 C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
exploitability and mate attractiveness, we partialed out
participants' ratings of overall attractiveness when calcu-
lating the correlations. Because each correlation between
the specific cues and the exploitability and attractiveness
ratings represents a test of an independent prediction and
because the number of significant correlations far exceeds
what would be expected by chance alone (see Notes,
Tables 1 and 2) and were predicted a priori, we report the
data without applying a statistical correction.
Fourteen cues were significantly positively correlated
with at least three of the four measures of exploitability and
with overall exploitability: attention seeking, come hither
look, easy,flirty, immature, intoxicated, open body
posture, partying, promiscuous, promiscuous friends, reck-
less, revealing clothing, sleepy, and young. To test the
prediction that cues positively correlated with exploitability
would be positively correlated with short-term mate
attractiveness but not correlated with, or negatively corre-
lated with, long-term mate attractiveness, we correlated each
cue with participants' measures of mate attractiveness.
All 14 of these cues conformed to the pattern of also being
positively correlated with short-term mate attractiveness while
being either negatively or not significantly correlated with
long-term mate attractiveness (Table 2). The following cues
-1.00 -0.80 -0.60 -0.40 -0.20 0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00
Being touched
Open Posture
Flushed Face
Reveal Clothes
Come Hither Look
Passed out
Prom Friends
Pearson r's
Corr w/ ST
Corr w/ LT
Fig. 1. Cues significantly correlated with exploitability.
423C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
were significantly negatively correlated with at least three of
the four measures of exploitability and with overall exploit-
ability: age, anxious, being touched, flushed face, intelligent,
old, passed out, and shy. Only three of these did not conform to
the predicted pattern: flushed face and anxious were not
significantly correlated with either short-term or long-term
mate attractiveness, and passed out was not significantly
correlated with short-term mate attractiveness but was
positively correlated with long-term mate attractiveness.
In summary, 22 cues were significantly correlated with
three of the four measures of exploitability as well as
overall exploitability. Nineteen of these 22 cues also
supported the central hypothesis: that cues correlated with
exploitability would be linked with perceptions of sexual
attractiveness (Fig. 1).
4. Discussion
We investigated cues from three broad categories to
determine which were diagnostic of sexual exploitability.
Cues from two of these categories, psychological traits and
cues to incapacitation, were strongly correlated with sexual
exploitability. Specifically, psychological traits indicative of
ease of mental or emotional manipulation (e.g., intelligence,
immaturity), flirtatiousness and promiscuity (e.g., promiscu-
ous, flirty, having promiscuous friends, wearing revealing
clothing), and recklessness (e.g., reckless, partying) were
significantly linked with perceptions of exploitability. Cues to
currently being incapacitated, such as sleepy and intoxicated,
were also correlated with perceptions of sexual exploitability.
These findings suggest that men are sensitive to cues in a
variety of domains when assessing the sexual exploitability of
women. Past research on the psychology of male sexual
aggressors has focused on the effect of individual differences
and situational contexts on likelihood of committing sexual
aggression (e.g., Abbey, Jaques-Tiura, LeBreton, 2011;
Malamuth, 1996). This research instead expands our knowl-
edge of victim-related cues that may activate mechanisms for
exploitation. Focusing on the function of exploitative tactics
reveals new cues in several domains that predict perceptions of
sexual exploitability. Our results highlight the utility of
examining cues that, from a man's perspective, suggest an
exploitative strategy may be successful.
Although cues indicating physical weakness were pre-
dicted to indicate sexual exploitability, none of those cues
were significantly correlated with the measures of exploit-
ability. It is possible that the strength difference between men
and women is so large (Lassek & Gaulin, 2009) that size and
strength differences among women are irrelevant when
assessing their exploitability. Gunns et al. (2002) found that
weight was a predictor of ease-of-attack for male targets, but
not for female targets, suggesting that female size, contrary to
our initial expectation, may not be a cue to exploitability. It is
also possible that the current methodology did not present or
ask about cues related to physical formidability in a way that
effectively captured their importance. Video or in-person
interactions may be required for men to perceive these cues
and relate them to exploitability. In-person interactions may
be particularly important if it is relative difference in
formidability that matters. Additionally, we only included
the physical cues of tall, short, skinny, and fat. Other cues,
such as low levels of muscularity, athleticism, and physical
formidability, may be more strongly associated with
perceptions of sexual exploitability.
The second purpose of this study was to test the
hypothesis that cues to exploitability represent previously
unexamined indicators of sexual attractiveness. Nineteen of
the 22 cues correlated with sexual exploitability were also
correlated with women's sexual attractiveness, strongly
supporting this hypothesis. Furthermore, many of the cues
that were not correlated with exploitability also did not
correlate with short-term mate attractiveness. This suggests
that the correlations with short-term mate attractiveness were
not driven by men simply relaxing their preferences when
evaluating women as short-term mates. The present findings
contribute novel insights to the burgeoning literature on the
science of attraction and attractiveness (Sugiyama, 2005;
Swami & Furnham, 2008). In addition, these findings
provide circumstantial support for one hypothesized function
of the emotion of sexual attractionto motivate men to
pursue women for exploitative, short-term mating opportu-
nities when there are cues suggesting that exploitative
strategies are likely to be effective.
4.1. Limitations and future directions
Although our sample was limited to university students,
we expect the ability to detect cues to sexual exploitability to
be universally present. Future research should include men
from different age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds.
One benefit from using a young, university-attending sample
is that these men may be particularly sensitive to cues to
exploitability because (1) they are frequently in contact with
younger women who exhibit more of these cues because of
their youthful appearance and (2) they have lower status and
fewer resources and may experience more difficulty attract-
ing a high-quality mate through nonexploitative means.
The use of photographs provided consistent stimuli to
examine cues to exploitability; however, some cues may not
be assessable in a photograph. This may explain why some
of our hypothesized cues to exploitability were not correlated
with measures of sexual exploitability. Many behavioral
cues (e.g., touching body, touching others, crying) may be
more salient in in vivo social interactions. Future research
could profit from using dynamic stimuli or live interactions
to further expand knowledge about exploitability cues and to
assess their relationship with sexual attractiveness.
Also needed is research that directly examines sexual
attraction as a motivator for pursuing exploitable women.
Investigating men's approach likelihood or arousal level when
exposed to women displaying cues to exploitability will shed
424 C.D. Goetz et al. / Evolution and Human Behavior 33 (2012) 417426
light on the behavioral output that results from this attraction.
Furthermore, it is possible that the experience of sexual
attraction overrides the guilt or remorse men would feel from
using a set of tactics that, while beneficial from a fitness
perspective, are morally reprehensible, some of which are
criminal (e.g., rape). Future work also could profitably
examine men's conscious awareness of the relationship
between perception of cues to exploitability and the sexual
attraction they experience, as well as the potentially
conflicting emotions they experience when presented with
the opportunity to engage in a sexually exploitative strategy.
Generally, a cue's correlations with the four measures of
exploitability were very similar. However, for some cues, the
correlations with perceptions of ease of sexual assault
differed from the other three exploitability measuresmost
were weaker than correlations with the other three measures.
Perhaps cues to sexual exploitability are better characterized
dichotomouslycues that suggest that a woman can be
sexually assaulted versus cues that suggest that she could
be sexually exploited in another way. This distinction may be
driven by individual differences in men's likelihood of
implementing these strategies. Only certain men may be
motivated to implement strategies that require violence, such
as sexual assault (Lalumière et al., 2005; Malamuth, 1996).
Future research could fruitfully examine which men in which
social circumstances adopt which exploitative tactics.
Indeed, some tactics might be deployed in a hierarchical
fashion, with increasingly cost-inflicting tactics being used
only if milder forms of sexual exploitation fail.
This study provides a first step towards understanding the
psychological mechanisms underlying men's sexually ex-
ploitative strategies. By examining the specific design
features of mechanisms for sexual exploitation, this research
reveals particular cues that activate these mechanisms,
allowing the prediction of which cues put women at risk
for sexual exploitation. The link between cues to exploit-
ability and sexual attractiveness paves the way for future
studies of sexual attraction as a mechanism motivating men's
tactics of sexual exploitation.
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... Some cues are displayed by the potential target of exploitation. For example, data suggest men are sensitive to cues of sexual exploitability displayed by women-including cues related to perceived victim immaturity, intoxication, current incapacitation, promiscuity, and lower intelligence (Goetz et al., 2012). Importantly, men found women displaying such cues to be sexually attractive for short-term sexual interactions. ...
... Importantly, men found women displaying such cues to be sexually attractive for short-term sexual interactions. This study indicated that men's sexual attraction to cues suggesting the ease of exploitation provides motivational impetus for men pursuing women perceived as more easily exploited (Goetz et al., 2012). Goetz et al. (2012) also examined cues related to the context the woman was in, including if she was alone, or in the vicinity of men. ...
... This study indicated that men's sexual attraction to cues suggesting the ease of exploitation provides motivational impetus for men pursuing women perceived as more easily exploited (Goetz et al., 2012). Goetz et al. (2012) also examined cues related to the context the woman was in, including if she was alone, or in the vicinity of men. However, they did not find evidence that these cues were associated with perceptions of sexual exploitability or women's sexual attractiveness. ...
Full-text available
Research on men's sexual exploitation of women has documented that men's psychology tracks cues associated with the ease of women's exploitability. In the current studies, we examined a different class of cues hypothesized to aid men's use of sexually exploitative strategies: environmental cues to the likelihood of discovery. We defined likelihood of discovery as the perceived probability of identification when engaging in exploitative behavior (e.g., presence of others). We test the hypothesis that men's likelihood to rape increases when their perception of the likelihood of discovery is low in three studies. In Study 1, we conducted a content analysis of individuals’ responses ( N = 1,881) when asked what one would do if they could stop time or be invisible. Besides the “other” category whereby there were no specific category for nominated behaviors, the most nominated category included sexually exploitative behavior—representing 15.3% of reported behaviors. Both Studies 2 ( N = 672) and 3 ( N = 614) were preregistered manipulations of likelihood of discovery surreptitiously testing men's rape likelihood to rape across varying levels of discovery. We found men, compared to women, reported a statistically higher likelihood to rape in both Studies 2 and 3: 48% compared to 39.7% and 19% compared to 6.8%, respectively. Across Studies 2 and 3, we found no statistical effect of the likelihood of discovery on participants’ likelihood to rape. We discuss how the presence of one's peers may provide social protection against the costs of using an exploitative sexual strategy if a perpetrator is caught.
... But why are female's primary and secondary sex characteristics drawn to be exploited and violated by the men? According to Goetz, et al (2012) the ladies having the physical characteristics of a shorter gait, slower walking speed, and low energy are susceptible to sexual exploitation than the others. The incapacitation cues like intoxication, fatigue, or other forms of cognitive impairment could make a lady less able to resist the tactics of sexual exploitation than men. ...
... Unfortunately, sexualization as a process of sexuality is negatively perceived (Wouters, 2010:726), and the word sexy and sexiness are discriminately used against sexuality of women and children. Especially the cuespsychological, incapacitation and physical make women vulnerable to sexual exploitation and violence (Goetz, et al, 2012). According to Goetz, et al, (2012) the psychological cues indicate that 'a woman is mentally or emotionally manipulable or is flirtatious or promiscuous or revealing a risk-taking proclivity' (ibid: 2). ...
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This paper portrays lives and livelihoods scenario of female associated with rural-urban migration in Bangladesh. The techniques deplored are the interview and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) methods in collecting data. Internal migration of female has been increased with complexity. This micro level study finds that possible female migrants are enticed, in many cases, with promises of a better life and dream in cities due to lack of information. They are deprived from rights and entitlements; whatever engaged in formal or informal employment. But evidence pointing that voice of female workers is comparatively loud where protection framework exists. This paper urges to take collaborative initiative by stakeholders for developing and disseminating standardized information. Information will help female migrants to be informed and decision making. In concluding this paper, it is recommended that the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) should develop a comprehensive national policy immediately on rural-urban migration; and gradually include informal employment under protection framework.
... The background literature and justification for the studies (i.e., Boysen & Isaacs, 2020) was somewhat misrepresented to build a stronger case than exists. Boysen and Isaacs (2022) cited Goetz et al. (2012), claiming that cognitive impairment is a potential cue for sexual exploitation that overlaps with symptoms of mental health. Goetz et al. (2012) asked about cognitive impairment in the context of temporary cognitive impairment where a person might be intoxicated or tired, whereas Boysen and Isaacs (2022) used "acts less intelligent than they actually are" as an indicator of cognitive impairment; perceptions of a person's intelligence are not the same as cognitive impairment. ...
... Boysen and Isaacs (2022) cited Goetz et al. (2012), claiming that cognitive impairment is a potential cue for sexual exploitation that overlaps with symptoms of mental health. Goetz et al. (2012) asked about cognitive impairment in the context of temporary cognitive impairment where a person might be intoxicated or tired, whereas Boysen and Isaacs (2022) used "acts less intelligent than they actually are" as an indicator of cognitive impairment; perceptions of a person's intelligence are not the same as cognitive impairment. With regard to intelligence being an indicator of a mental illness, intelligence only appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) in reference to intellectual disabilities. ...
... Consistent with the idea that displays of proceptivity may be perceived as indicative of promiscuity and an increased likelihood of unfaithfulness, which tend to decrease a potential mate's desirability as a long-term partner (see Goetz et al., 2012; see also Oliver & Sedikides, 1992;Schmitt & Buss, 1996), Semchenko et al. (in press) did not find reliable evidence of a male mate preference for lordosis behavior in long-term mating contexts. We therefore might not expect women to perceive men to be attracted to lordosis behavior in long-term mating contexts. ...
Semchenko and colleagues (in press) recently disentangled two evolutionary hypotheses and demonstrated that heterosexual men have mate preferences for both the morphological cue of women's lumbar curvature and the behavioral cue of back arching: Men are attracted to an intermediate degree of lumbar curvature in both shortterm and long-term mating contexts, and, independent of this preference, are attracted to lordosis behavior in short-term, but not long-term, mating contexts. No research to date has investigated whether women are aware of these preferences. There are a priori reasons to expect this to be the case: An awareness of these preferences could functionally guide both appearance-enhancement and intrasexual competition strategies. Here, we tested whether women have accurate perceptions of men's preferences in the lumbar region. Across two studies (Ns = 177, 293), we found that women's perceptions align precisely with men's preferences: Women perceive men to be attracted to cues to lordosis behavior in short-term but not long-term contexts, and to be attracted to an intermediate angle of lumbar curvature independent of mating context. We hope these findings, which document previously unknown features of women's mating psychology, inspire investigations into how women might adaptively use their accurate perceptions of men's mate preferences.
... Consistent with this idea, available data, which have been collected from people from three different continents, suggest that the preferred level of female lumbar curvature is uniform across nations and does not vary as a function of other contextual variables such as mating context (e.g. short-term vs. long-term) that are known to shift the fitness value of other traits (see Ref. 14,27,28 ; see also Ref. 29 More data are needed to determine whether there is cross-cultural variation in preferences for female lumbar curvature and in the specific abstract lines that people find most beautiful. ...
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In 1753, artist William Hogarth declared a specific S-shaped line to be the ‘Line of Beauty’ (LoB). Hogarth’s assertion has had a profound impact on diverse fields over the past two and a half centuries. However, only one recent (2022) study has investigated whether Hogarth’s assertion accurately captures humans’ actual aesthetic preferences, and no research has explored why people find the LoB beautiful. We conducted two studies testing the hypothesis that the LoB’s perceived beauty is an incidental by-product of cognitive systems that evolved to attend to fitness-relevant morphological features in people. In Study 1, we replicated the finding that female bodies whose lumbar curvature approximates the biomechanical optimum for dealing with the exigencies of pregnancy are rated as more attractive. In Study 2, we found that abstract lines extracted from these bodies were perceived as more beautiful than other lines. These results suggest that the preference for Hogarth’s LoB is an incidental by-product of psychological mechanisms that evolved for other purposes. More broadly, these findings suggest that an evolutionary psychological approach – in particular the concept of evolutionary by-product – may be useful for understanding, explaining, and predicting people’s aesthetic preferences for certain abstract symbols, which otherwise might seem arbitrary and inexplicable.
... Among humans, research suggests that women believe that lordosis behavior in uences male mating interest, especially in short-term mating contexts (Lewis et al., 2022). This view among women appears to be corroborated by men's mating psychology: lordosis behavior has stronger positive e ects on men's perceptions of women's attractiveness as short-term mates than as long-term mates (Semchenko et al., in press; see also Goetz et al., 2012;Lewis et al., 2012 for context-dependent in uences of visual cues to sexual availability). Further research is needed on men's preferences for the static cue of lumbar curvature and the dynamic cue of lordosis behavior, and on female behaviors that strategically manipulate these cues as part of intersexual courtship. ...
Evolutionary social science is having a renaissance. This volume showcases the empirical and theoretical advancements produced by the evolutionary study of romantic relationships. The editors assembled an international collection of contributors to trace how evolved psychological mechanisms shape strategic computation and behavior across the life span of a romantic partnership. Each chapter provides an overview of historic and contemporary research on the psychological mechanisms and processes underlying the initiation, maintenance, and dissolution of romantic relationships. Contributors discuss popular and cutting-edge methods for data analysis and theory development, critically analyze the state of evolutionary relationship science, and provide discerning recommendations for future research. The handbook integrates a broad range of topics (e.g., partner preference and selection, competition and conflict, jealousy and mate guarding, parenting, partner loss and divorce, and post-relationship affiliation) that are discussed alongside major sources of strategic variation in mating behavior, such as sex and gender diversity, developmental life history, neuroendocrine processes, technological advancement, and culture. Its content promises to enrich students’ and established researchers’ views on the current state of the discipline and should challenge a diverse cross-section of relationship scholars and clinicians to incorporate evolutionary theorizing into their professional work.
... This information would allow future research to determine which female attributes attract men who are seeking pair-bonding versus variety and might align those findings with existing literature. For instance, men value intelligence in a long-term mate (Goetz et al., 2012;Kenrick et al., 1993), but look for cues related to sexually permissive attitudes in a short-term mate Fink & Penton-Voak, 2002). Consistent with these differences, many sex workers adapt their business strategies according to client, venue, and culture in an effort to maximize their income (Brennan et al., 2004;Yu et al., 2018). ...
Full-text available
Humans have a complex and dynamic mating system, and there is evidence that our modern sexual preferences stem from evolutionary pressures. In the current paper we explore male use of a dual mating strategy: simultaneously pursuing both a long-term relationship (pair-bonding) as well as short-term, extra-pair copulations (variety-seeking). The primary constraint on such sexual pursuits is partner preferences, which can limit male behavior and hence cloud inferences about male preferences. The aim of this study was to investigate heterosexual male mating preferences when largely unconstrained by female partner preferences. In service of this goal, female full-service sex workers (N = 6) were surveyed on the traits and behaviors of their male clients (N = 516) and iterative cluster analysis was used to identify male mating typologies. Two clusters emerged: clients seeking a pair-bonding experience and clients seeking a variety experience. Results also suggested that romantically committed men were more likely to seek a variety experience than a relationship experience. We conclude that men desire both pair-bonding and sexual variety, and that their preference for one might be predicted by fulfilment of the other. These findings have implications for relationships, providing insight into motivations for male infidelity.
... For example, the tness value of a cue to immediate fertility is greater in the context of short-term mating than in the context of long-term mating; a conspeci c's immediate fertility may be paramount for reaping tness bene ts from a single act of sexual intercourse, but largely irrelevant to the tness consequences of selecting that individual as a long-term mate. The opposite is true of cues to future reproductive potential; cues to future reproductive potential may be paramount in long-term mating but largely irrelevant to short-term mating (see Goetz et al., 2012, for In the following sections, we discuss how attractiveness-assessment mechanisms regulate attractiveness perceptions in response to (1) cues ancestrally predictive of the tness consequences of mating with a particular individual and (2) contextual variables that shift the tness value of those cues. ...
Attractiveness is a perception produced by psychological mechanisms in the mind of the perceiver. Understanding attractiveness therefore requires an understanding of these mechanisms. This includes the selection pressures that shaped them and their resulting information-processing architecture, including the cues they attend to and the context-dependent manner in which they respond to those cues. We review a diverse array of fitness-relevant cues along with evidence that the human mind processes these cues when making attractiveness judgments. For some of these cues, there is unequivocal evidence that the cue influences attractiveness judgments, but exactly why attractiveness-assessment mechanisms track that cue is an area of current debate. Another area of active inquiry is when these cues influence attractiveness judgments: because the fitness costs and benefits associated with these cues would have varied across contexts, selection should have shaped attractiveness-assessment mechanisms to be sensitive to contextual variables. As a consequence of this context-sensitive design, these mechanisms, despite being universal, should produce attractiveness assessments that vary systematically and predictably across contexts. We review evidence indicating that this is how human perception of attractiveness works, and highlight the need for more comprehensive and systematic investigations into contextual variation in human standards of attractiveness. We conclude by identifying limitations on existing evolutionary research on attractiveness, and provide concrete suggestions for how future work can address these issues.
... A related advantage of specifying mating context is that it enables clearer tests of the overarching hypothesis of universal psychological adaptations (e.g., Tooby & Cosmides, 1990). A core hypothesized feature of universal evolved psychological mechanisms is that they are sensitive to contextual inputs and change their outputs (e.g., mate preferences) as a function of context (DeKay & Buss, 1992; see also Al-Shawaf et al., 2019, 2021Goetz et al., 2012;Lewis, 2015;Lewis & Buss, 2022;Lewis et al., 2021;Lukaszewski et al., 2020). On this view, we should expect to observe variability in people's preferences if they interpret ambiguous contextual information differently. ...
Despite progress in attractiveness research, we have yet to identify many fitness-relevant cues in the human phenotype or humans’ psychology for responding to them. Here, we test hypotheses about psychological systems that may have evolved to process distinct cues in the female lumbar region. The Fetal Load Hypothesis proposes a male preference for a morphological cue: lumbar curvature. The Lordosis Detection Hypothesis posits context-dependent male attraction to a movement: lordosis behavior. In two studies (Study 1 N: 102, Study 2 N: 231), we presented men with animated female characters that varied in their lumbar curvature and back arching (i.e., lordosis behavior). Irrespective of mating context, men’s attraction increased as lumbar curvature approached the hypothesized optimum. By contrast, men experienced greater attraction to lordosis behavior in short-term than long-term mating contexts. These findings support both the Lordosis Detection and Fetal Load Hypotheses. Discussion focuses on the meaning of human lordosis and the importance of dynamic stimuli in attractiveness research.
Differences in mating preferences, strategies, and goals can lead to romantic relationship conflict. One method of addressing conflict is exploitation, which occurs when deception, manipulation, coercion, or force is used to obtain a resource that the exploited is reluctant to provide. Here we create and provide initial assessment of the Partner Exploitation Inventory, which measures the use of tactics to exploit a romantic partner. Participants (n=172) used an act nomination procedure to generate 62 exploitative acts that may be used against a romantic partner. Next, using a new group of participants (n=516), we grouped the acts into three components that represent different forms of partner exploitation: Harm-Inducing, Ego-Boosting, and Emotional Manipulation. Men reported greater use of Ego-Boosting and Harm-Inducing exploitation, and women reported greater use of Emotional Manipulation exploitation. Evidence for the validity of the Partner Exploitation Inventory was also found through positive associations with questionnaires measuring similar constructs. This study expands our knowledge of men's use of exploitation strategies and is the first study to directly investigate women's use of exploitation strategies. We also created a tool that can be used to examine exploitation in the future.
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How and why do our minds generate different levels of attraction to others? This chapter integrates life history, evolutionary psychology, and human biology approaches to address this question. Biological adaptations regulate a vast number of life history trade-offs that affect how we look, smell, sound, and behave. Selection produced adaptations that evaluate these cues and regulate our degree of attraction to others based on their relative probable social value to us in different contexts. This chapter outlinesthe alternative evolutionary explanations for the emergence of an attraction,basic components necessary for attraction systems to evolve, and sources of variation in attractiveness assessment. It identifies different domains of social value for which attractiveness assessment evolved, reviews evidence for some of the hypothesized attractiveness-assessment adaptations in those domains, and highlights avenues calling for increased attention. Finally, it calls for greater integration of evolutionary psychology, human biological research, and data from small-scale foraging societies to generate predictions about these domains of social value, the cues or signals associated with them, adaptations selected to regulate attraction to them, and the life history trade-offs involved in these processes. New research on body shape attractiveness is presented to illustrate these points.
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There is a class of nonverbal facial expressions and gestures, exhibited by human females, that are commonly labeled “flirting behaviors.” I observed more than 200 randomly selected adult female subjects in order to construct a catalog of these nonverbal solicitation behaviors. Pertinent behaviors were operationally defined through the use of consequential data; these behaviors elicited male attention. Fifty-two behaviors were described using this method. Validation of the catalog was provided through the use of contextual data. Observations were conducted on 40 randomly selected female subjects in one of four contexts: a singles' bar, a university snack bar, a university library, and at university Women's Center meetings. The results indicated that women in “mate relevant” contexts exhibited higher average frequencies of nonverbal displays directed at males. Additionally, women who signaled often were also those who were most often approached by a man: and this relationship was not context specific.I suggest that the observation of women in field situations may provide clues to criteria used by females in the initial selection of male partners. As much of the work surrounding human attraction has involved laboratory studies or data collected from couples in established relationships, the observation of nonverbal behavior in field settings may provide a fruitful avenue for the exploration of human female choice in the preliminary stages of male-female interaction.
Evidence is presented showing that body fat distribution as measured by waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is correlated with youthfulness, reproductive endocrinologic status, and long-term health risk in women. Three studies show that men judge women with low WHR as attractive. Study 1 documents that minor changes in WHRs of Miss America winners and Playboy playmates have occurred over the past 30-60 years. Study 2 shows that college-age men find female figures with low WHR more attractive, healthier, and of greater reproductive value than figures with a higher WHR. In Study 3, 25- to 85-year-old men were found to prefer female figures with lower WHR and assign them higher ratings of attractiveness and reproductive potential. It is suggested that WHR represents an important bodily feature associated with physical attractiveness as well as with health and reproductive potential. A hypothesis is proposed to explain how WHR influences female attractiveness and its role in mate selection.
Protective and risk factors for sexual victimization were examined in a sample of 274 undergraduate women. Assertiveness specific to situations with the opposite gender was protective at all three assessment times. Prior victimization, alcohol use, poor adjustment (as indicated by depression and anxiety), multiple sexual partners, and insecurity about relationships with the opposite gender were significant risk factors. Prevention efforts might be more effective if (a) behavioral practice of assertiveness was added to informational and attitudinal interventions; (b) assertiveness training focused specifically on relationships with the opposite gender; (c) medical and counseling services routinely assessed for prior victimization and other risk factors, and made appropriate referrals for women with victimization histories; and (d) alcohol education-programs were integrated with acquaintance-rape programs.
Independent samples of 128 women and 106 men were interviewed in a study site in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Respondents were screened for involvement in a committed sexual relationship during the past year, but not with each other. Questions pertained to family structure, support, and conflict; females reported on victimization by spousal aggression and males on perpetration. Previously documented effects of their partner's mate quality (“sex”) and socioeconomic status (“money”) were cross-culturally replicated. The following family structure parameters were also measured: (1) the local density of female kin, (2) the local density of male kin, (3) the social support provided by local kin, (4) the socioeconomic status of close kin, and (5) the “culture of honor” revenge ideology of the respondents. The same interactions of local density of male kin that protected women from spousal abuse also empowered men to perpetrate it. The risk of spousal abuse was mitigated by the “sexual balance of power” between the family structures of potential victims and potential perpetrators. Evidence was also found partially supporting several alternative hypotheses tested regarding local cultural and ideological mechanisms (culture of honor and patriarchal beliefs), major dimensions of psychopathology (anxiety and depression) and substance abuse (alcohol), and indicators of general criminality (permissive and risk-taking attitudes).
On average, men have 61% more muscle mass than women (d=3), a sex difference which is developmentally related to their much higher levels of testosterone. Potential benefits of greater male muscle mass include increased mating opportunities, while potential costs include increased dietary requirements and decreased immune function. Using data on males aged 18–59 years from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and including other relevant variables, fat-free mass (FFM) and/or limb muscle volume (LMV) are significant predictors of the numbers of total and past-year self-reported sex partners, as well as age at first intercourse. On the cost side, FFM and LMV are strong positive predictors of daily energy intake and strong negative predictors of C-reactive protein and white blood cell count, measures of native immunity.
Two studies supported the hypothesis that female sociosexuality can be accurately detected by strangers based on thin slices of observable behavior. Twenty-four female participants, whose sexual strategies ranged from highly restricted to highly unrestricted, were video taped while interacting with a male confederate. In Study 1, raters' judgments of the women's sociosexuality were highly correlated with the women's self-reported sociosexuality. Study 2 replicated this finding and identified specific cues perceivers used to make their judgments. We identified (1) Valid cues (e.g., eyebrow flashes, glances at the confederate), which were associated with both targets' actual sociosexuality and raters' perceptions of sociosexuality; (2) Poor cues (e.g., hand gestures, posture), which were not correlated with actual or perceived sociosexuality; and (3) Misleading cues (e.g., provocativeness of dress, physical attractiveness), which were not associated with actual sociosexuality, but were correlated with perceptions of sociosexuality. Statistically controlling for valid cues (but not poor cues or misleading cues) reduced the relationship between perceived and actual sociosexuality, suggesting that perceiving these traits may partially account for perceiver accuracy. The accurate detection of traits in others may play an important role in helping people respond adaptively to important social threats and opportunities.
Males of many animal taxa allocate resourceslargely to mate acquisition and defence, con-tributing little more than gametes to embryoproduction. In many insects, however, malestransfer large spermatophores or ejaculates tofemales during mating, and extragametic sub-stancesderivedfromthesepackagesareusedforsomaticmaintenanceandeggproductionbytherecipient females (e.g. Boggs 1981). Femalesreceiving multiple male contributions lay more(Ridley1988)andoftenlargereggs(Fox1993a)than do once-mated females, indicating largeeVectsofmale-derivednutrientsonfemalerepro-duction.Furthermore,largemalesproducelargerejaculates or spermatophores than small males(Fox et al. 1995), and females of some insectspreferentiallymatewithlargemales(ThornhillA but see Gwynne 1988). Here, weprovideevidencethatvariationamongmalesinbodysizehasadirecteVectonfemalereproductivesuccess(lifetimefecundityandeggsize)inaseedbeetle,
Typically, sexual coercion has been viewed as a less serious form of sexual aggression than attempted rape or rape. However, sexual coercion may be better understood as a qualitatively different type of sexual aggression experience. We examined the correlates of sexual coercion and rape/attempted rape experiences separately among a sample of young women who were at increased risk of sexual victimization as a result of their high levels of sexual activity and alcohol consumption. We hypothesized that personality variables would be associated with sexual coercion but not rape experiences. We found that low self-esteem, low assertiveness, and high sexrelated alcohol expectancies were associated with sexual coercion experiences but not with rape or attempted rape. Higher levels of casual sexual activity and alcohol consumption were associated with both types of experiences. Findings suggest that sexual coercion may be prevented by improving sexual assertiveness and weakening alcohol expectancies to emphasize personal control.