ArticlePDF Available

Why Do Men Prefer Nice Women? Gender Typicality Mediates the Effect of Responsiveness on Perceived Attractiveness in Initial Acquaintanceships

Authors:
  • Reichman University (IDC Herzliya)

Abstract

Responsiveness may signal to a potential partner that one is concerned with her or his welfare, and may therefore increase sexual interest in this person. Research shows, however, that this proposition holds true for men, but not for women. In three studies, one observational and two experimental, we explored a potential mechanism that explains why men and women diverge in their sexual reactions to a responsive opposite-sex stranger. Studies 1-2 showed that men, but not women, perceived a responsive stranger as more gender-typical (masculine/feminine), and in turn, as more attractive. Study 3 revealed that responsiveness increased men's perception of partner’s femininity. This, in turn, was associated with higher sexual arousal, which was, in turn, linked to greater partner attractiveness and greater desire for a long-term relationship. These findings suggest that whether or not responsiveness increases perceived partner attractiveness varies across individuals, depending on the contextually based meaning assigned to responsiveness.
Running head: RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS
1
Why do Men Prefer Nice Women? Gender Typicality Mediates the Effect of Responsiveness
on Perceived Attractiveness in Initial Acquaintanceships
Gurit E. Birnbaum Tsachi Ein-Dor
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya
Harry T. Reis
University of Rochester
Noam Segal
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Word count: 9,950
June 10, 2014
Authors' Note. We would like to thank Nadine Aboaita, Zohar Aviv, Michal Danieli, Hadar
Divon, Maayan Faran, Anna Gershkovich, Keren Gitlin, Anastasya Graber, Hofit Levi, Or
Meidan, Lianne Perez, and Michael Velkes for their assistance in the collection of the data.
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 86/10 awarded to Gurit E.
Birnbaum) and by the Binational Science Foundation (Grant #2011381 awarded to Gurit E.
Birnbaum and Harry T. Reis).
Send Correspondence:
Gurit E. Birnbaum, Ph.D.
School of Psychology
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya
P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150, Israel
Email address: birnbag@gmail.com
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 2
Abstract
Responsiveness may signal to a potential partner that one is concerned with her or his welfare,
and may therefore increase sexual interest in this person. Research shows, however, that this
proposition holds true for men, but not for women. In three studies, one observational and two
experimental, we explored a potential mechanism that explains why men and women diverge in
their sexual reactions to a responsive opposite-sex stranger. Studies 1-2 showed that men, but
not women, perceived a responsive stranger as more gender-typical (masculine/feminine), and in
turn, as more attractive. Study 3 revealed that responsiveness increased men's perception of
partner’s femininity. This, in turn, was associated with higher sexual arousal, which was, in
turn, linked to greater partner attractiveness and greater desire for a long-term relationship.
These findings suggest that whether responsiveness affects perceptions of partner attractiveness
varies in individuals, depending on the contextually based meaning assigned to responsiveness.
Key words: attraction; dating; gender; responsiveness; sex
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 3
Why do Men Prefer Nice Women? Gender Typicality Mediates the Effect of Responsiveness
on Perceived Attractiveness in Initial Acquaintanceships
Sexual responses to a potential new partner may serve as a diagnostic test of her or his mate
value and suitability (Birnbaum & Reis, 2006), determining whether future interactions with this
person will occur (Berscheid & Reis, 1998). Increased sexual desire for a new acquaintance may
signify mate suitability and is therefore likely to motivate pursuit of this desirable potential partner.
In contrast, a lack of sexual desire may signal incompatibility, and therefore may motivate withdrawal
from future interactions with this person (Birnbaum, 2014; Birnbaum & Reis, 2006). If so, partner
traits that signal mate value, such as those that are theorized to promote reproductive success via
parental investment or "good genes" (e.g., warmth-trustworthiness, status resources, and
attractiveness-vitality; Eastwick & Finkel, 2008; Fletcher, Simpson, Tomas, & Giles, 1999) may
encourage sexual attraction to potential partners and increase the desire to bond with them (Lemay,
Clark, & Greenberg, 2010).
Responsiveness is an important behavioral manifestation of such a trait, as it may signal to
potential partners that one understands, values, and supports important aspects of their self-concept
and is willing to invest resources in the relationship (Birnbaum & Reis, 2012; Reis, 2007). This key
intimacy-building behavior is therefore likely to be particularly valued in a potential long-term
relationship partner (Clark & Lemay, 2010; Reis & Clark, 2013) and to increase sexual interest in her
or him (Baumeister & Bratslavsky, 1999; Rubin & Campbell, 2012). Interestingly, though, recent
research has indicated that men and women do not react to a stranger’s expressions of responsiveness
in the same way. Specifically, men, but not women, perceive responsive opposite-sex strangers as
more sexually desirable than unresponsive opposite-sex strangers (Birnbaum & Reis, 2012). This
research points to the possibility that the provision of responsiveness conveys different meanings to
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 4
men and women in the context of initial (and potentially romantic) acquaintanceships. However,
questions still remain as to what a responsive opposite-sex stranger signals that leads men and women
to react differently.
In the present research, we explored one potential mechanism that might explain why men and
women diverge in their sexual reactions to a responsive opposite-sex stranger. In particular, we
considered the possibility that provision of responsiveness in the specific context of dating is likely to
reflect the feminine stereotype of communal relating (Diekman & Eagly, 2000; Eagly & Mladinic,
1989; Rudman & Glick, 2001). Consequently, it may signal congruence (or lack thereof) between the
stranger's biological sex and gender-typical qualities. That is, responsive women may be perceived as
more gender-typical (feminine) than unresponsive women, whereas responsive men may be perceived
as less gender-typical (masculine) than unresponsive men. To the extent that such perceptions of
gender typicality determine perceived attractiveness (e.g., Johnson & Tassinary, 2007), they should
lead men and women to have different views about the desirability of a responsive opposite-sex
stranger. To explore this possibility, we conducted one observational and two experimental studies
that investigated whether perceived gender typicality (perceived masculinity/femininity) mediated the
association between provision of responsiveness by an opposite-sex stranger and perceptions of her or
his sexual attractiveness.
Expressions of Intimacy and Sexual Desire
Being responsive to a partner's needs and wishes may signal to the partner that one is
genuinely concerned with her or his welfare in a way that is truly open and informed about what the
partner cares about and wants. Perceiving a partner as responsive is therefore fundamental to the
development of intimacy within a relationship (Laurenceau, Barrett, & Rovine, 2005; Reis, 2007;
Reis, Clark, & Holmes, 2004). Because sex is a prominent context in which people seek to be
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 5
understood and cared for (e.g., Birnbaum & Laser-Brandt, 2002; Birnbaum & Reis, 2006; Cooper,
Shapiro, & Powers, 1998), it is reasonable to expect that perceptions of a partner's responsiveness
may strengthen the desire for sex with this partner. In particular, people who perceive that their
partner understands, validates, and supports them can view sexual interactions as one way to enhance
intimate experiences with such a responsive partner and, therefore, are likely to experience greater
sexual desire. On the other hand, people who perceive that their partner is unresponsive -- that is, that
their partner does not understand or appreciate their needs, or is disinterested in supporting them --
are likely to avoid sexual activity, thereby missing out on the potential intimacy that sexual
interaction can create.
In line with this reasoning, Baumeister and Bratslavsky (1999) proposed that cues of rising
intimacy, such as displays of affection and understanding, stimulate passion. Supporting this
hypothesis, several studies have found that in established relationships, intimacy relates positively to
sexual desire (e.g., Birnbaum, Cohen, & Wertheimer, 2007; Patton & Waring, 1985). Similarly, a
recent diary study has shown that daily increases in intimacy reported by both male and female
partners predicted higher relationship passion and a higher probability of having sex (Rubin &
Campbell, 2012). Nevertheless, the nature of the association between intimacy and sexual desire may
depend upon the changing functional significance of sex across different stages of relationship
development (e.g., evaluating the suitability of a partner in initial encounters, promoting intimacy in
later stages of dating; Birnbaum & Reis, 2006). Hence, findings about intimacy and sexual desire
based on existing relationships may not apply to the initial stage of potential romantic relationships.
Responsiveness during Dating in Gendered Shoes
The effect of intimacy on sexual desire is not necessarily uniform even in initial romantic
encounters, because this context may elicit different goals (e.g., pursuit of either short-term or long-
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 6
term mating opportunities; Birnbaum, 2014; Birnbaum & Gillath, 2006). To be sure, not all people
perceive a new acquaintance who seems to want to be close in the same manner. Specifically, as
mentioned above, a prospective partner's expressions of intimacy are apparently desirable to men, but
not to women (Birnbaum & Reis, 2012). A clue for why responsiveness in initial acquaintanceships
induces a different sexual response in men and women comes from studies on gender roles that are
embedded in dating scripts (i.e., stereotypes about the sequence of events and actions appropriate for
dating encounters).
Early dating constitutes an ambiguous interpersonal situation, in which little is known about
the other person. In such situations, relying on traditional norms of how men and women should
behave may provide a familiar framework for interpreting behavior, which helps to reduce
uncertainty and the ensuing anxiety (Eagly, Eastwick, & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2009; Eaton & Rose,
2011). Indeed, although dating patterns have changed over the years, gender-stereotypic behavior
persists in the dating realm. In particular, women are expected to show a communal orientation and
to be more caring and concerned about others than are men. Men, in contrast, are expected to show
an agentic orientation and to take control of the dating environment (e.g., initiate a date and pay for it;
see review by Eaton & Rose, 2011). Given that initial romantic encounters reinforce stereotypical
views of men and women, perceptions of a responsive opposite-sex stranger should become “attuned”
to these gender stereotypes and guide people's emotional reactions and desires (e.g., Eagly et al.,
2009). These perceptions and preferences may also be driven by evolutionary forces that have shaped
women to prefer agentic, potentially good providers and men to prefer nurturing partners (e.g., Buss,
1989).
The Present Research
Perceived responsiveness, by definition, includes recognition that an individual understands
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 7
and supportively reacts to one’s needs and goals (Reis, 2007). As outlined above, it is currently
unknown why an opposite-sex stranger whose behavior emphasizes concern for others affects men's
and women's sexual reactions differently. The present research set out to answer this question by
suggesting that in the specific context of dating, communal behavior is likely to be viewed in
gendered terms and to be regarded as feminine (Diekman & Eagly, 2000; Eagly & Mladinic, 1989;
Rudman & Glick, 2001). As such, responsiveness is likely to have a differential effect on men's and
women's perceptions of the stranger's gender typicality and, consequently, as has been shown in
previous studies, of her or his sexual attractiveness (e.g., Johnson, & Tassinary, 2007). Thus, we
hypothesized that men would perceive a responsive woman as more conforming to gender norms and
feminine than an unresponsive woman and, thus, as more sexually attractive. These perceptions may
be enhanced by men's tendency to overestimate women's sexual interest so as not to miss potential
reproductive opportunities (e.g., Haselton & Buss, 2000). Specifically, men may interpret women's
responsiveness as a sign of sexual interest and react accordingly by perceiving them as more
attractive. Women, by comparison, would perceive responsive men as less masculine than less
responsive men and, therefore, as less sexually attractive.
We conducted three studies to examine these hypotheses. In all studies, participants discussed
a recent negative event with an unfamiliar, opposite-sex partner, and then rated how responsive this
partner had been during the interaction. Participants also rated this person's masculinity/femininity
and sexual attractiveness. Study 1 examined whether subjective judgments of gender-typicality
(perceived masculinity/femininity) mediated the association between perceived partner
responsiveness and perceived partner attractiveness during face-to-face conversations among
randomly paired strangers, while allowing interactions to unfold in a natural, spontaneous way.
Studies 2 and 3 were experiments in which participants exchanged Instant Messages with a
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 8
confederate who sent them either responsive or unresponsive standardized messages. In Study 2, we
examined whether gender typicality mediated the effect of partner responsiveness on perceived
partner attractiveness. In Study 3, we further investigated the processes by which partner
responsiveness leads men to perceive their partners as more feminine, and in turn, as more sexually
attractive. Specifically, we examined whether the association between a partner's perceived
femininity and attractiveness was mediated by sexual arousal. We also considered whether partner
responsiveness only affected men's perceptions of their partner's sexual attractiveness or whether it
also affected their desire for a long-term relationship.
Study 1
Study 1 used a live interaction paradigm in which participants discussed a recent
negative event with an opposite-sex stranger, and then rated this stranger's responsiveness,
gender typicality (perceived masculinity/femininity), and sexual attractiveness. We used
moderated-mediation procedures to test our hypothesis that perceived masculinity/femininity
would mediate the association between perceived partner responsiveness and perceived partner
attractiveness (Preacher, Rucker, & Hayes, 2007). We also hypothesized that this mediation
would be moderated by gender, such that men's perceptions of partner responsiveness would be
positively associated with perceptions of partner's femininity, which in turn would be positively
associated with perceptions of partner attractiveness. In contrast, we expected that women's
perceptions of partner responsiveness would be negatively associated with perceived
masculinity, and therefore with lower perceptions of partner attractiveness.
Method
Participants. One hundred and twelve undergraduate students (56 women, 56 men)
from a university in central Israel volunteered for the study without compensation. All
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 9
participants were heterosexual and were not currently involved in a romantic relationship.
Participants were randomly paired with an opposite-sex participant whom they did not know.
One member of each pair was randomly designated as “discloser” and the other partner was
designated as “responder.” The participant of interest was the person in the role of discloser (28
women and 28 men). Disclosers ranged in age from 20 to 33 years (M = 24.39, SD = 2.08).
Responders ranged in age from 19 to 28 years (M = 24.13, SD = 2.01).
Measures and Procedure. Participants who agreed to participate in a study on
personality, sexuality, and dating activities were randomly paired with an unfamiliar opposite-
sex participant. They were scheduled for a single half-hour laboratory session that followed the
procedure of Birnbaum and Reis (2012, Study 1). When each dyad arrived at the lab, they were
greeted by a research assistant who asked them to get acquainted with each other for five
minutes. The research assistant explained that the study involved discussing a recent personal
negative event and randomly assigned participants to the role of discloser or responder by
flipping a coin. The research assistant then asked disclosers to discuss a recent personal
negative event (e.g., failing an exam) of their choosing and instructed responders to respond to,
add to, or talk about as much or as little as they would under normal circumstances. All
discussions lasted between 5 and 7 minutes.
After the discussion, participants were led into separate rooms to ensure confidentiality.
Disclosing participants completed the Hebrew version of a measure of responsiveness, adapted
from Reis’s (Reis, Maniaci, Caprariello, Eastwick, & Finkel, 2011) General Responsiveness
Scale to reflect new acquaintance. The Responsiveness Scale was translated into Hebrew by
Birnbaum and Reis (2012), who also validated its structure on an Israeli sample. The current
version assessed perceptions of how understood, validated, and cared for the discloser felt when
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 10
interacting with the responder. Participants rated nine statements, such as “The responding
participant was aware of what I am thinking and feeling” or “The responding participant really
listened to me.” Items were rated on a 5-point scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much). This
scale was factorially unidimensional and internally consistent (Cronbach's alpha = .87) in our
sample. Higher scores indicated greater perceived responsiveness.
Disclosing participants were then asked to think about how they felt right then and to
evaluate the responder's sexual attractiveness on five adjectives used by Birnbaum, Weisberg,
and Simpson (2011): sexually desirable, sensual, "hot," attractive, and sexually exciting (e.g.,
"To what extent do you think that the responding participant is sexually desirable?"). These
items were intermixed with five fillers (e.g., "To what extent do you think that the responding
participant helps others in need?") to mask the nature of this questionnaire. Ratings were made
on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much so). In the current sample, the five
items were internally consistent (α = .95) and were thus averaged to form a global sexual
attractiveness index. Participants also rated the responder's masculinity/femininity, using the
same 5-point scale (two items were averaged: “To what extent do you think that the responding
participant is masculine/feminine?; "To what extent do you think that the responding participant
is a typical man/woman?"; r = .29, p = .03). Men answered the questions about femininity and
the typical woman, whereas women answered the questions about masculinity and the typical
man. Finally, participants were asked to provide demographic information and were then fully
debriefed. Participants were not allowed to leave until the research assistant was convinced that
they felt good about their experience in the study.
Results and Brief Discussion
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 11
We examined whether the association between perceived partner responsiveness and
perceived partner attractiveness was mediated by perceived partner's masculinity/femininity. In
addition, we examined whether this mediation differed among men and women. Specifically,
we tested a moderated-mediation model by using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013, model 59), in which
perceived partner responsiveness was the predictor, perceived partner attractiveness was the
outcome measure, perceived partner's masculinity/femininity was the mediator, and gender (-1 =
women, 1 = men) was the moderator. Figure 1 shows the final model. In all of the reported
analyses, confidence intervals (CIs) for mean differences (Cohen's d) were calculated using the
MBESS package in R (Kelley, 2007), CIs for correlations were calculated using Biesanz's
(2014) R code, and CIs for standardized regression coefficients (βs) were calculated with the
bias-corrected and accelerated bootstrap resampling method (Biesanz, 2014; Jones & Waller,
2013).
This analysis revealed a significant main effect of perceived partner responsiveness on
perceived partner's masculinity/femininity, b = .35, SE = .09, t = 3.90, p = .01, β = .45, the 95%
CI for β (.22, .69), such that participants who perceived their partners as more responsive also
perceived them as more gender-typical. This effect, however, comparable to the ‘a’ path in
mediation analysis, was qualified by gender, b = .26, SE = .09, t = 2.88, p < .01, β = .32, the
95% CI for β (.09, .56). Men who perceived their female partners as more responsive also
perceived them as more feminine, b = .62, SE = .16, t = 3.78, p < .001, β = .78, the 95% CI for β
(.37, 1.00). Conversely, the association between partner responsiveness and partner’s
masculinity was not significant among women, b = .09, SE = .08, t = 1.16, p = .41, β = .12, the
95% CI for β (-.04, .23).
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 12
The analysis further revealed a significant main effect of perceived partner's gender
typicality (i.e., masculinity/femininity) on perceived partner attractiveness, b = .37, SE = .11, t =
3.33, p = .001, β = .31, the 95% CI for β (.12, .50), such that participants who perceived their
partners as more gender-typical also perceived them as more attractive. This effect, however,
which relates to the ‘b’ path in mediation analysis, was qualified by gender, b = .28, SE = .11, t =
2.48, p = .015, β = .23, the 95% CI for β (.05, .42): Men who perceived their female partners as
more feminine also perceived them as more attractive, b = .53, SE = .12, t = 4.18, p < .001, β = .
54, the 95% CI for β (.29, .80). The association between partner's masculinity and partner
attractiveness was not significant among women, b = .07, SE = .13, t = .54, p = .59, β = .07, the
95% CI for β (-.20, .35). Thus, in men, but not in women, perceived partner responsiveness
predicted perceived partner’s masculinity/femininity, which in turn predicted perceived partner
attractiveness (95% CI [.06, .84] for men and [-.07, .07] for women).
Finally, the analysis revealed that perceived partner responsiveness did not significantly
predict partner attractiveness after controlling for partner's gender-typicality, b = .02, SE = .12, t
= .00, p = .90, β = .02, the 95% CI for β (-.22, .26). This effect, however, was qualified by
gender, b = -.23, SE = .12, t = -2.01, p = .046, β = -.25, the 95% CI for β (-.50, -.01): Among
men [b = .25, SE = .09, t = 2.59, p = .01, β = .28, the 95% CI for β (.07, .48)], but not women [b
= -.23, SE = .21, t = -1.05, p = .29, β = -.23, the 95% CI for β (-.67, .21)], perceived partner
responsiveness predicted perceived partner attractiveness. Without controlling for perceived
partner's gender-typicality, perceived partner responsiveness did significantly predict partner
attractiveness, r = .27, p = .047, 95% CI for r (.09, .43). In addition, the total effect of perceived
partner responsiveness on perceived partner attractiveness was qualified by gender, b = -.38, SE
= .14, t = -2.75, p = .007, β = -.39, 95% CI for β (-.66, -.12). Consistent with previous research
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 13
(Birnbaum & Reis, 2012), men's perceptions of partner responsiveness were positively
associated with perceptions of partner attractiveness, b = .25, SE = .09, t = 2.87, p = .005, β = .
26, 95% CI for β (.08, .44). Conversely, women's perceptions of partner responsiveness were
marginally and negatively associated with perceptions of partner attractiveness, b = -.50, SE = .
27, t = -1.92, p = .058, β = -.51, 95% CI for β (-1.00, .02).
To examine gender differences in perceived partner responsiveness, gender typicality,
and partner attractiveness, we conducted independent-sample t-tests. These t-tests revealed that
men perceived their partners as marginally more attractive (M = 2.81, SD = 1.02) than women
did (M = 2.32, SD = .88), t(110) = 2.74, p = .007, Cohen’s d = .52, 95% CI for Cohen's d (.14, .
90). There were no significant gender differences in perceived partner responsiveness, t(110) = .
48, p = .63, or in perceived partner's gender-typicality, t(110) = .01, p = .99.
Overall, the results indicate that, as expected, perceived gender typicality mediated the
association between perceived partner responsiveness and perceived partner attractiveness, and
that this mediation was moderated by gender. Consistent with our hypothesis, men who
perceived a new acquaintance as more responsive also perceived her as more feminine and, in
turn, as more sexually attractive. This finding adds to research showing that traditional gender
prescriptions still prevail in dating practices (Eaton & Rose, 2011) by illustrating how gendered
thinking may affect perceptions and desires in early dating. In particular, it implies that women
who are communal and supportive follow gender norms and are thus perceived as more
feminine and as more attractive as potential mates.
Contrary to our hypothesis, perceived gender typicality did not mediate the association
between perceived partner responsiveness and perceived partner attractiveness among women.
One potential reason for this lack of mediation could be that women, unlike men, do not
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 14
necessarily associate provision of responsiveness with lack of masculinity, at least in the context
of initial acquaintanceships. Indeed, the findings showed that women's perceptions of partner
responsiveness were not associated with their perceptions of partner's masculinity. This need
not imply that women are less prone to gendered thinking than men are, however. Instead, it
may reflect women's tendency to be skeptical of partners’ commitment intentions, especially
during the earliest phase of acquaintship (e.g., Haselton & Nettle, 2006). In this context, women
may be suspicious of a responsive stranger's intentions, attributing his responsiveness to
possible ulterior motives (e.g., manipulation to obtain sexual favors, a self-presentation strategy)
rather than communal tendencies.
Study 2
Study 1's correlational design precludes conclusions about causal connections between
perceptions of a new acquaintance's responsiveness and her or his gender typicality. Study 2
addressed this limitation by employing an experimental design in which the responses to the
participant's disclosure were manipulated. Our design thereby controlled both verbal content of
the responsive message as well as other cues that are visible when people interact face-to-face
(e.g., smiling, physical attractiveness). Participants discussed with an opposite-sex confederate
over Instant Messenger a recent personal negative event. The confederate responded to this
disclosure by sending either responsive or unresponsive standardized messages. Following this
discussion, participants rated the confederate's responsiveness, gender-typicality, and sexual
attractiveness. Our hypotheses were the same as in Study 1.
Method
Participants. One hundred sixty-one undergraduate students (79 women, 82 men) from
a university in central Israel volunteered for the study without compensation. Participants
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 15
ranged from 20 to 38 years of age (M = 24.49, SD = 2.28). All participants were heterosexual
and not currently involved in a romantic relationship. No significant differences were found
between the experimental conditions for any of the socio-demographic variables.
Measures and Procedure. Participants who agreed to participate in a study of
personality and online intimate interactions were individually scheduled to attend a single half-
hour laboratory session, which followed the procedure of Birnbaum and Reis (2012, Study 2).
Prior to each session, participants were randomly assigned to interact with either a responsive or
an unresponsive confederate. Upon arrival at the laboratory, participants were led to believe
that they would be participating in an online chat with another participant who was located in a
different room. All participants were assigned an opposite-sex confederate. Then, participants
had their picture taken, which they were told would be shown to the other participant (the
confederate). Next, participants were asked to view the other participant's photo. In reality, all
participants were shown the same photos of an opposite-sex individual, previously used by
Birnbaum and Reis (2012), which had been pilot tested to ensure that the male and female
versions were similar in physical attractiveness (both were moderately attractive). Participants
were then instructed to communicate with the confederate partner over Instant Messenger for
five minutes and thereby to get to know each other.
After five minutes, participants were told that they would discuss over Instant Messenger
a recent personal negative event that had happened to one of them. To decide who took the role
of discloser and responder, the research assistant ostensibly randomly assigned the real
participants to be disclosers by asking them to draw a slip of paper from a basket; all slips read
“discloser.” Thus, all responders were confederates. Subsequent checks on the credibility of
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 16
this procedure revealed no instance of suspicion. After role assignment, participants were given
the following instructions, in Hebrew:
"We would like you to choose some current problem, concern, or stressor you are facing
in your life. This may be something that happened before but continues to bother you,
something going on now, or something you anticipate will happen in the future. Some examples
could be a recent argument with a friend or a family member, a grade in class, work or financial
problems, or personal illness. Please pick something that has been on your mind recently, no
matter how big or small you may think it is. While you are interacting, please feel free to talk
about anything related to the personal concern by dividing it into three messages. Some
suggestions would be to discuss the circumstances surrounding the concern in your first
message, how you feel and what you think about the concern in your second message, and any
other details or issues that you think are important, such as the implications of this event for
your life, in your third message. The responding participant can reply to each of your messages
with a single line."
Participants and confederates then discussed the participant’s negative event for up to 10
minutes. We experimentally manipulated responsiveness by having the confederate copy
standardized responsive (e.g., "You must have gone through a very difficult time"; "I completely
understand what you have been through") or unresponsive (e.g., "Doesn't sound so bad to me";
"Are you sure that's the worst thing you can think of?") messages. This set of standardized
responses had been pilot-tested by Birnbaum and Reis (2012) to fit the experimental condition.
After the discussion, participants completed the measure of perceived partner
responsiveness described in Study 1. This measure served as a manipulation check (α = .95).
Participants also completed items assessing their perceptions of the responders' sexual
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 17
attractiveness (α = .93) and gender typicality (r = .42, p < .001), described in Study 1. In
addition, participants completed four items assessing perceptions of partner selectivity (e.g., "To
what extent do you think that the responding participant is selective in choosing potential
partners?"; α = .87). These items were included to examine whether perceptions of partner
selectivity underlie the effect of responsiveness on partner's attractiveness, as less responsive
new acquaintances may be perceived as more selective in their favors, which might increase
their desirability (Eastwick, Finkel, Mochon, & Ariely, 2007). Finally, participants provided
demographic information and were then carefully debriefed. No participant left until the
research assistant was convinced that he or she felt good about her or his experience in the
study.
Results and Discussion
Manipulation check. A t-test on perceived partner responsiveness yielded the expected
effect, t(159) = 9.98, p < .001, Cohen’s d = 1.58, 95% CI for Cohen's d (1.22, 1.93): Perceived
partner responsiveness was higher in the responsive confederate condition (M = 3.27, SD = .85)
than in the unresponsive confederate condition (M = 2.06, SD = .68).
Responsiveness, perceived gender typicality, and sexual attractiveness. We again
tested our hypotheses with a moderated-mediation model by using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013,
model 59), in which partner responsiveness manipulation (-1 = unresponsive, 1 = responsive)
served as the predictor, perceived partner attractiveness served as the outcome measure,
perceived partner's masculinity/femininity served as the mediator, and gender served as the
moderator. Figure 2 shows the final model.
The analysis did not reveal a significant main effect of perceived partner responsiveness
on perceived partner's masculinity/femininity, b = .10, SE = .08, t = 1.32, p = .18, Cohen's d = .
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 18
22, 95% CI for Cohen's d (-.09, .53), but indicated that this link was qualified by gender, b = .
21, SE = .08, t = 2.67, p = .009, η2 = .044 (i.e., gender qualified the ‘a’ path of the moderated-
mediation model). Men who interacted with a responsive female confederate perceived her as
more feminine than did men in the unresponsive confederate condition, b = .31, SE = .11, t =
2.86, p = .005, Cohen's d = .65, 95% CI (.33, .97). Conversely, the effect of partner
responsiveness manipulation on women’s perception of partner’s masculinity was not
significant, b = -.10, SE = .11, t = -0.94, p = .35, Cohen's d = -.21, 95% CI (-.52, -.10).
The analysis further revealed a significant main effect of perceived partner's gender-
typicality on perceived partner attractiveness, b = .19, SE = .08, t = 2.44, p = .02, β = .18, 95%
CI for β (.03, .33), such that participants who perceived their partners as more gender-typical
also perceived them as more sexually attractive. This effect, which corresponds to the ‘b’ path
in mediation analysis, was not significantly qualified by gender, b = .10, SE = .08, t = 1.35, p = .
18, β = .10, 95% CI for β (-.05, .25). In short, the analysis indicated that, in men but not
women, partner responsiveness led to perceiving the partner as more feminine, which in turn
predicted perceived partner attractiveness (Bootstrap 95% CI [.01, .18] for men and [-.05, .01]
for women). Finally, the analysis revealed that partner responsiveness affected perceived
partner attractiveness only marginally after controlling for perceived partner's gender-typicality,
b = .14, SE = .08, t = 1.82, p = .07, β = .14, 95% CI for β (-.01, .28). Without controlling for
perceived gender-typicality, the effect was significant, t(159) = 2.41, p = .017, implying that the
path between partner responsiveness and perceived partner attractiveness was significantly, yet
only partially, mediated by perceived gender-typicality (i.e., masculinity/femininity).
Nevertheless, the total effect of perceived responsiveness on perceived attractiveness was
qualified by gender, b = .21, SE = .07, t = 2.89, p = .004, η² = .05. Specifically, responsiveness
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 19
was associated with increased perceptions of partner attractiveness among men, b = .51, SE = .
11, t = 4.78, p < .001, Cohen's d = 1.10, 95% CI (.77, 1.43), but not among women, b = .08, SE
= .10, t = 0.84, p = .40, Cohen's d = .19, 95% CI (-.12, .50). Introduction of perceptions of
partner selectivity as an alternative mediator revealed that this variable did not mediate the
effects of responsiveness.
We conducted independent-sample t-tests to examine gender differences in perceived
partner responsiveness, gender typicality, and perceived partner attractiveness. These tests
revealed that men perceived their partners as more attractive (M = 2.49, SD = 1.09) than women
did (M = 1.88, SD = .84), t(159) = 4.00, p < .001, Cohen’s d = .64, 95% CI (.32, .96). There
were no significant gender differences in perceived partner responsiveness, t(159) = 1.04, p = .
30, Cohen's d = .16, or perceived partner's gender-typicality t(159) = .55, p = .58, Cohen's d = .
09.
These findings indicate that, as predicted, and similar to the results of Study 1, perceived
gender typicality mediated the association between perceived partner responsiveness and
perceived partner attractiveness in men, but not in women. In particular, men associated
provision of responsiveness with sexual attractiveness because it indicated high femininity. This
pattern suggests that responsiveness is a cue for a woman's mate value and thus activates
mechanisms for sexual attraction that motivate either short-term or long-term mating
opportunities with this woman (Birnbaum, 2014).
Women are apparently more cautious than men are when interpreting a stranger's
expressions of responsiveness, as their perceptions of the stranger were unaffected by his
responsiveness. Because women are more discriminating than men in their choice of sexual
partners (e.g., Baumeister, Catanese, & Vohs, 2001; Sadalla, Kenrick, & Vershure, 1987), they
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 20
may base their perceptions of potential partners on multiple behavioral cues, which may
increase the reliability of mate choice decisions, rather than solely on provision of
responsiveness. Alternatively, the meaning attached to provision of responsiveness may vary in
women. For example, responsiveness can communicate that one truly cares about a partner and
is willing to commit to the relationship. Hence, some women may perceive a responsive
stranger as a valuable and desirable long-term partner. However, other women may interpret
men's provision of responsiveness as a tactic for sexual exploitation rather than genuine long-
term interest. Because sexually exploitative tactics are more typical of men than women (e.g.,
Haselton, Buss, Oubaid, & Angleitner, 2005), these women may view a potential partner's
responsiveness in traditionally masculine terms. It is also possible that some women see
responsiveness as an indication of eagerness to please, which is more typical of women than
men (e.g., Diekman & Eagly, 2000; Rudman & Glick, 2001). Hence, the nonsignificant effect
of responsiveness on perceived partner masculinity may reflect conflicting trends among
different women. As expected, when women did perceive a man as more masculine, they also
perceived him as more sexually attractive.
Study 3
Studies 1 and 2 indicate that among men, perceiving female partners as responsive and
thus feminine may lead to perceiving them as sexually attractive. These findings suggest that a
potential partner's responsiveness may activate motivational mechanisms, such as sexual
attraction, that fuel pursuit of either short-term or long-term mating opportunities with this
responsive partner (Birnbaum, 2014; Birnbaum & Reis, 2012). Study 3 further explored this
mechanism, testing the specific possibility that sexual arousal functions as one such mechanism.
This possibility was suggested by previous studies showing that arousal affects attraction to
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 21
opposite-sex people (see meta-analytic review by Foster, Witcher, Campbell, & Green, 1998).
Thus, in Study 3, we replicated and extended Study 2 by adding a measure of sexual arousal.
This additional measure enabled us to examine whether a female partner's responsiveness would
signal high femininity and therefore enhance men's sexual arousal, in turn promoting their
perceptions of her sexual attractiveness.
We also added a measure of desire for a long-term relationship that allowed us to
examine whether the processes described above underlie the effect of a potential partner's
responsiveness on the desire to bond with her. Studies 1 and 2 suggest that provision of
responsiveness indicates high femininity and therefore renders a woman sexually attractive.
Nevertheless, perceiving a woman as sexually attractive does not necessarily make her attractive
as a long-term mate (e.g., Goetz, Easton, Lewis, & Buss, 2012). Because provision of
responsiveness signals communal tendencies and a willingness to invest in a relationship, it is
likely to be desired not only in short-term partners, but also in long-term partners (Clark &
Lemay, 2010; Lemay et al., 2010). Therefore, being responsive and being perceived as feminine
should render women attractive as long-term mates. This reasoning led us to hypothesize that a
female partner's responsiveness would cause men to perceive her as more feminine and
consequently to feel more sexually aroused. Sexual arousal, in turn, would heighten their desire
for a long-term relationship with her.
Method
Participants. Eighty undergraduate male students from a university in central Israel
volunteered for the study without compensation. Participants ranged from 20 to 31 years of age
(M = 25.60, SD = 2.06). All participants were heterosexual and not currently involved in a
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 22
romantic relationship. No significant differences were found between the experimental
conditions for any of the socio-demographic variables.
Measures and Procedure. Participants followed the same procedure as in Study 2,
except that they completed additional measures of sexual arousal and desire for a long-term
relationship. Participants discussed a recent personal negative event with a female confederate
over Instant Messenger. Following this online discussion, participants completed measures of
perceived partner responsiveness (α = .97), perceived partner sexual attractiveness (α = .96), and
perceived partner's femininity (r = .77, p < .001), described in Study 1. In addition, participants
completed three items assessing their sexual arousal (e.g., "To what extent do you feel sexually
aroused?"; α = .95), and reported their desire for a long-term relationship with the responder on
the same 5-point scale.
Results and Discussion
Manipulation check. A t-test on perceived partner responsiveness yielded the expected
effect, t(78) = 8.30, p < .001, Cohen’s d = 1.90, 95% CI (1.37, 2.42): Perceived partner
responsiveness was higher in the responsive confederate condition (M = 4.03, SD = .83) than in
the unresponsive confederate condition (M = 2.30, SD = 1.01).
Two-step mediation of the effect of responsiveness on partner attractiveness and the
desire for a long-term relationship. In this study, we examined whether the association
between perceived partner's femininity and perceived partner attractiveness was mediated by
sexual arousal. We also examined whether partner responsiveness also affected men's desire for
a long-term relationship with this partner. To do so, we tested two-step mediation models by
using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013, model 6), in which partner responsiveness manipulation (-1 =
unresponsive, 1 = responsive) served as the predictor, perceived partner attractiveness and the
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 23
desire for a long-term relationship served as the outcome measures, perceived partner's
femininity served as the first-step mediator, and sexual arousal as the second-step mediator. The
final model is presented in Figure 3. Means and standard deviations are presented in Table 1.
This analysis revealed two significant mediational paths. First, the partner
responsiveness manipulation significantly increased men's perception of their partner’s
femininity. Greater perceived partner's femininity, in turn, was associated with higher levels of
sexual arousal, which were, in turn, linked to greater perceived partner attractiveness and greater
desire for a long-term relationship (Percentile bootstrap 95% CI [.01, .18] for sexual
attractiveness and [.01, .14] for desire for long-term relationships). Second, partner
responsiveness manipulation significantly increased men's sexual arousal, which in turn, was
linked to greater perceived partner attractiveness and greater desire for a long-term relationship
(Percentile bootstrap 95% CI = [.23, .63] and [.16, .44], respectively).
The analyses also revealed that partner responsiveness did not significantly affect
perceived partner attractiveness or men's desire for long-term relationships when controlling for
perceived partner's femininity and men's sexual arousal. Thus, the analyses indicated that the
effects of partner responsiveness manipulation on men's perception of their partner
attractiveness and their desire for long-term relationships were almost fully mediated by
perceived partner's femininity and men's sexual arousal.
In sum, the findings of Study 3 replicated and extended those of Study 2 by showing that
a female partner's actual responsiveness led men to perceive her as more feminine and
consequently to feel more sexually aroused. Provision of responsiveness also had a direct effect
on men's sexual arousal. Heightened sexual arousal, in turn, was related to both men's
perceptions of partner attractiveness and desire for a long-term relationship with this partner.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 24
These findings provide empirical support for the view that a potential partner's responsiveness
may signal mate quality and therefore activate motivational mechanism for the pursuit of long-
term mating opportunities with this potential partner. Obviously, responsiveness may also
indicate mate availability rather than quality and accordingly activate motivational mechanism
for the pursuit of short-term mating opportunities (Birnbaum, 2014; Birnbaum & Reis, 2012).
The findings also imply that assessment of a woman's femininity is central to activation
of such mechanisms. Past research has already suggested that physical cues of femininity (e.g.,
facial features, vocal characteristics) are one source of information to which mechanisms for
sexual attraction are sensitive (e.g., Fraccaro et al., 2010), as they denote higher estrogen levels,
good reproductive health, and overall mate quality (e.g., Feinberg, 2008; Law Smith et al., 2006;
Thornhill & Gangestad, 2006). Our findings further imply that behavioral displays, such as
provision of responsiveness, may serve as cues of femininity, thereby enhancing mate quality
and making a female partner seem both more sexually desirable and attractive as a long-term
mate. Of course, long-term mate choice decisions are likely to be guided by multiple behavioral
cues, such as trustworthiness and being selective in choosing partners, than solely by provision
of responsiveness.
General Discussion
Responsiveness is a key intimacy-building behavior geared toward promoting a partner’s
welfare (Reis & Clark, 2013), and is therefore likely to be particularly desirable in a long-term
partner (Clark & Lemay, 2010). Still, it is not at all clear that provision of responsiveness
arouses sexual interest in early dating and renders a prospective partner attractive. In such
situations of uncertainty, some people may feel uncomfortable about a new acquaintance who
seems eager to be close, and these feelings may impair sexual attraction to this person. Of
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 25
course, other people may find a responsive acquaintance sexually appealing. Indeed, a recent
series of studies has shown that perceiving a new acquaintance as responsive increased the
desire for sex with this acquaintance among men but not among women (Birnbaum & Reis,
2012). These earlier findings suggest that men and women interpret a stranger's expressions of
intimacy differently. In the present research, we sought to explain why an opposite-sex stranger
whose behavior apparently denotes a priority concern for others does not affect men's and
women's sexual reactions in the same way. By doing so, we were able to demonstrate how
categorical gendered thinking spills over to the dating realm and operates together with
intimacy-related processes to affect sexual attraction.
The findings of our three studies indicate that in the context of early dating, a
prospective partner's responsiveness is likely to be viewed in gendered terms and regarded as
feminine, at least by men, and therefore have a differential effect on men's and women's
perceptions of this partner's attractiveness. Study 1 revealed that under relatively naturalistic
conditions, men, but not women, perceived a responsive stranger as more gender-typical, and in
turn, as more sexually attractive. Studies 2 and 3 experimentally manipulated partner
responsiveness while employing computer-mediated interactions. Study 2 indicated that, as
predicted, and similar to the results of Study 1, men associated provision of responsiveness with
sexual attractiveness because it signified high femininity. Study 3 replicated and extended the
findings of Study 2 by showing that a female partner's actual responsiveness led men to perceive
her as more feminine and consequently to feel more sexually aroused. Heightened sexual
arousal, in turn, was linked to both increased perception of partner attractiveness and greater
desire for a long-term relationship with this prospective partner.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 26
Viewed together, these findings imply that whether a responsive partner will be seen as
sexually desirable or not depends on the contextually based meaning assigned to provision of
responsiveness. In early dating, this meaning is likely to be shaped by gendered expectations
that are common to this relationship stage. Early dating provides a context in which little is
known about the other person and as such, it may revolve around reducing uncertainty about this
person (Afifi & Lucas, 2008). To reduce uncertainty, potential partners often tend to rely
heavily on conventional cultural scripts of how women and men should behave toward each
other. Gender norms may therefore be especially influential in gauging behavior and guiding
preferences for partners in these ambiguous interpersonal situations (e.g., Eagly et al., 2009;
Eaton & Rose, 2011). If so, and given that female communion and male agency represent
culturally shared expectations that is manifested in dating scripts (Diekman & Eagly, 2000;
Eaton & Rose, 2011; Rudman & Glick, 2001), it is not surprising that the meaning of the
communal trait of responsiveness is gendered feminine in initial acquaintanceships.
What may seem surprising is that although men perceived responsiveness in gendered
terms and viewed a responsive opposite-sex stranger as more feminine than an unresponsive
stranger, women did not perceive a responsive man as less masculine. Although these findings
are ostensibly at odds with research showing that both men and women hold highly gendered
beliefs about practices in the courtship context (e.g., Eaton & Rose, 2011), they do not
necessarily imply that women's thinking is less gendered than that of men. Rather, the findings
may reflect women's conflicting gendered interpretations of a prospective partner's
responsiveness; some of whom possibly stem from a cautious approach to dating, which may
reflect evolutionary forces.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 27
According to evolutionary models of human sexuality (e.g., Buss & Schmitt, 1993;
Trivers, 1972), women typically invest more in each offspring than men do and thus they have
more to lose from a poor mating choice. Consequently, women are more selective than men are
in their mating choices, particularly in short-term relationships (Baumeister et al., 2001; Sadalla
et al., 1987). Because women are predisposed to caution in forming impressions of prospective
mates (e.g., Haselton & Nettle, 2006), they may be skeptical of a responsive stranger's
communal intentions and ironically attribute his behavior to exploitative strategies. Such
strategies are more typical of men than of women (e.g., Haselton et al., 2005) and may thus lead
women to perceive the stranger as more masculine. On the other hand, some women may
perceive a responsive man as overly eager to please and therefore as less dominant and more
feminine (e.g., Diekman & Eagly, 2000; Rudman & Glick, 2001). Other women may simply
view a responsive man as genuinely responsive. These mixed trends may obscure potential
links between observed behavioral differences in responsiveness and the gender of the person
doing the behaving. Future studies should investigate these possibilities by assessing the
various meanings responsiveness may have and their associations with perceptions of gender-
typicality.
The differences we found between men's and women's perceptions of partner
responsiveness support the notion that partners’ traits gain meaning within the diverse
circumstances that men and women encounter in their culture and in their personal lives (Eagly
et al., 2009). As described above, there may well be evolutionary foundations for some of the
cultural patterns that underlie the meaning of responsiveness in initial acquaintanceships. It is
therefore reasonable to expect that the meaning of responsiveness will be affected by gender-
specific mating strategies and that its effect on men's and women's sexual response will be
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 28
governed by different mechanisms: selectivity in women, as discussed above, and perceived
sexual availability in men (e.g., Buss & Schmitt, 1993). Although some of these evolved
mechanisms may not involve conscious awareness, they may have rationalized manifestations
that are culturally embedded. Still, because our research did not determine the mechanism
underlying women's perceptions of a new acquaintance, more studies are needed to explore the
causal pathways that link provision of responsiveness and mating preferences.
Men are more likely than women to adopt short-term mating strategies (Schmitt,
Shackelford, & Buss, 2001) and to be motivated not to miss mating opportunities (e.g., Haselton
& Buss, 2000). Hence, men are likely to pay attention to women’s receptivity cues and to
overestimate their sexual interest during cross-sex interactions (Haselton & Buss, 2000;
LaFrance, Henningsen, Oates, & Shaw, 2009). In line with this research, men may interpret a
woman's responsiveness as a sign of sexual interest and react accordingly with heightened
sexual arousal. There are, however, circumstances in which men may benefit from shifting to
long-term mating strategies. One such situation is when a woman with higher mate value (e.g.,
a responsive and feminine woman), who presumably demands greater investment, can be
attracted (Buss & Schmitt, 1993).
Our findings point to the possibility that responsiveness activates these two mating
strategies in men. Men may interpret responsiveness as sexual interest and be sexually
interested in new acquaintances who appear receptive to their potential advances. Indeed, as the
findings show, female partners' responsiveness heightens men's sexual arousal, regardless of
their perceived femininity. In these cases, responsiveness may encourage the pursuit of short-
term mating opportunities. At the same time, men may perceive a potential partner's
responsiveness as a marker of femininity and mate value. These perceptions may increase
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 29
sexual attraction to this partner and heighten the desire to bond with her. In other words,
responsiveness may heighten sexual arousal and the desire for a long-term relationship, as long
as it indicates gender-typicality. In such cases, sexual desire may serve as a gatekeeper in initial
encounters that ensures that only suitable partners will be pursued (Birnbaum, 2014; Birnbaum
& Reis, 2012).
Limitations, Conclusion, and Future Directions
Our findings indicate that the elusive spark of attraction in initial encounters may be
influenced by perceived responsiveness and that the nature of this influence depends on whether
the new acquaintance is perceived as gender-typical. Although these findings speak to one
mechanism that helps explain why men find responsive women sexually attractive, they do not
reveal the mechanism that underlies women's desires in new acquaintanceships. Our study thus
does not provide a clear answer as to why women differ from men in their reaction to responsive
strangers. Moreover, because this study did not assess perceptions of mate value, it cannot
indicate when and why partner responsiveness will motivate the pursuit of short-term vs. long-
term mating opportunities.
Instead, our research raises additional questions about how men and women react to
expressions of intimacy in the initial stages of acquaintanceship. For example, do women
interpret responsiveness differently than men or are they just reluctant to report sexual attraction
to responsive strangers after so little interaction? Are women more varied than men in the
meaning they assign to responsiveness in early dating? Clearly, future studies should measure
additional potential mediators (e.g., attributions for the partner's behavior, perceived mate value)
and use other methods (e.g., implicit and behavioral measures of attraction) to further test
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 30
whether different mechanisms govern men's and women's perceptions of responsiveness and
mate preferences in new acquaintanceships.
Despite these limitations, the present research sheds light on the nature of the intimacy-
desire linkage in the context of relationship initiation by identifying some of the processes
whereby prospective partners' responsiveness leads to perceiving these partners as more
attractive. Recent research has suggested that attraction to partners who provide the potential
for intimacy emerges from early interpersonal experiences that each person carries forward to
adult interactions (Birnbaum & Reis, 2012) as well as from the interpersonal dynamics between
potential partners (see review by Finkel & Baumeister, 2010). Our study adds to this research
and implies that attraction is grounded in cultural traditions. In particular, categorical gendered
thinking, which reflects cultural beliefs and prevails in the dating realm, shapes the meaning that
people ascribe to expressions of intimacy. Eventually, this contextually based meaning of a
prospective partner's responsiveness may determine the activation of the motivational
mechanism for the pursuit of this partner. Of course, the meaning of responsiveness may
change as a relationship progresses from initial encounters to steady dating, such that both men
and women may perceive it in positive terms and react correspondingly with heightened sexual
desire. Certainly, more research is needed to elucidate the nature of the intimacy-desire linkage
in both sexes across different stages of relationship development.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 31
References
Afifi, W. A., & Lucas, A. A. (2008). Information seeking in initial stages of relational
development. In S. Sprecher, A. Wenzel, & J. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of relationship
initiation (pp. 197–215). New York: Psychology Press.
Baumeister, R. F., & Bratslavsky, E. (1999). Passion, intimacy, and time: Passionate love as a
function of change in intimacy. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 49–67.
Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, K. R., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Is there a gender difference in strength
of sex drive? Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant
evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 242-273.
Berscheid, E., & Reis, H. T. (1998). Attraction and close relationships. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T.
Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 193-281).
New York: McGraw-Hill.
Biesanz, J. C. (2014). Constructing confidence intervals for standardized effect sizes.
Manuscript submitted for publication.
Birnbaum, G. E. (2014). Sexy building blocks: The contribution of the sexual system to
attachment formation and maintenance. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.),
Mechanisms of social connection: From brain to group (pp. 315-332). Washington, DC:
American Psychological Association.
Birnbaum, G. E., Cohen, O., & Wertheimer, V. (2007). Is it all about intimacy? Age, menopausal
status, and women's sexuality. Personal Relationships, 14, 167-185.
Birnbaum, G. E., & Gillath, O. (2006). Measuring subgoals of the sexual behavioral system:
What is sex good for? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 675-701.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 32
Birnbaum, G. E., & Laser-Brandt, D. (2002). Gender differences in the experience of
heterosexual intercourse. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 11, 143-158.
Birnbaum, G. E., & Reis, H. T. (2006). Women’s sexual working models: An evolutionary-
attachment perspective. The Journal of Sex Research, 43, 328-342.
Birnbaum, G. E., & Reis, H. T. (2012). When does responsiveness pique sexual
interest? Attachment and sexual desire in initial acquaintanceships. Personality and
Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 946-958.
Birnbaum, G. E., Weisberg, Y. J., & Simpson, J. A. (2011). Desire under attack: Attachment
orientations and the effects of relationship threat on sexual motivations. Journal of
Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 448–468.
Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested
in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1-49.
Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on
human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204-232.
Clark, M. S., & Lemay, E. P., Jr. (2010). Close relationships. In S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert & G.
Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5 ed., Vol. 2, pp. 898-940). New York:
Wiley.
Cooper, M. L., Shapiro, C. M., & Powers, A. M. (1998). Motivations for sex and risky sexual
behavior among adolescents and young adults: A functional perspective. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1528-1558.
Diekman, A. B., & Eagly, A. H. (2000). Stereotypes as dynamic constructs: Women and men of
the past, present, and future. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1171–1188.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 33
Eagly, A. H., Eastwick, P. W., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C. (2009). Possible selves in marital
roles: The impact of the anticipated division of labor on the mate preferences of women
and men. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 403-414.
Eagly, A. H., & Mladinic, A. (1989). Gender stereotypes and attitudes toward women and men.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 15, 543–558.
Eastwick, P. W., & Finkel, E. J. (2008). Sex differences in mate preferences revisited: Do people
know what they initially desire in a romantic partner? Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 94, 245–264.
Eastwick, P. W., Finkel, E. J., Mochon, D., & Ariely, D. (2007). Selective versus unselective
romantic desire: Not all reciprocity is created equal. Psychological Science, 18, 317–
319.
Eaton, A. A., & Rose, S. (2011). Has dating become more egalitarian? A 35 year review using
Sex Roles. Sex Roles, 64, 843-862.
Feinberg, D. R. (2008). Are human faces and voices ornaments signaling common underlying
cues to mate value? Evolutionary Anthropology, 17, 112-118.
Finkel, E. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2010). Attraction and rejection. In R. F. Baumeister, and E. J.
Finkel (Eds.), Advanced social psychology: The state of the science (pp. 419-459). New
York: Oxford University Press.
Fletcher, G. J. O., Simpson, J. A., Thomas, G., & Giles, L. (1999). Ideals in intimate
relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 72-89.
Foster, C. A., Witcher, B. S., Campbell, W. K., & Green, J. D. (1998). Arousal and attraction:
Evidence for automatic and controlled processes. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 74, 86-101.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 34
Fraccaro, P. J., Feinberg, D. R., DeBruine, L. M., Little, A. C., Watkins, C. D. & Jones, B. C.
(2010). Correlated male preferences for femininity in female faces and voices.
Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 447-461.
Goetz, C. D., Easton, J. A., Lewis, D. M. G., & Buss, D. M. (2012). Sexual Exploitability:
Observable cues and their link to sexual attraction. Evolution & Human Behavior, 33,
417-426.
Haselton, M. G., & Buss, D. M. (2000). Error management theory: A new perspective on biases
in cross-sex mind reading. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 81-91.
Haselton, M. G., Buss, D. M., Oubaid, V., & Angleitner, A. (2005). Sex, lies, and strategic
interference: The psychology of deception between the sexes. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 31, 3-23.
Haselton, M. G., & Nettle, D. (2006). The paranoid optimist: An integrative evolutionary model
of cognitive biases. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 47–66.
Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis.
New York: Guilford Press.
Johnson, K. L., & Tassinary, L. G. (2007). Compatibility of basic social perceptions determines
perceived attractiveness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA,
104, 5246−5251.
Jones, J. A., & Waller, N. G. (2013). Computing confidence intervals for standardized regression
coefficients. Psychological Methods, 18, 435-453.
Kelley, K. (2007). Methods for the behavioral, educational, and social sciences: An R package.
Behavior Research Methods, 39, 979-984.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 35
La France, B. H., Henningsen, D. D., Oates, A., & Shaw, C. M. (2009). Social sexual
interactions: Meta-analyses of sex differences in perceptions of flirtatiousness,
seductiveness, and promiscuousness. Communication Monographs, 76, 263-285.
Law Smith, M. J., Perrett, D. I., Jones, B. C., Cornwell, R. E., Moore, F. R., Feinberg, D. R.,
Boothroyd, L. G., Durrani, S. J., Stirrat, M. R., Whiten, S., Pitman, R. M., & Hillier, S.
G. (2006). Facial appearance is a cue to reproductive hormone levels in women.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 273, 145-150.
Laurenceau, J. P., Barrett, L. F. & Rovine, M. J. (2005). The interpersonal process model of
intimacy in marriage: A daily-diary and multilevel modeling approach. Journal of
Family Psychology, 19, 314-323.
Lemay, E. P., Jr., Clark, M. S., & Greenberg, A. (2010). What is beautiful is good because what
is beautiful is desired: Physical attractiveness stereotyping as projection of interpersonal
goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 339-353.
Patton, D., & Waring, E. M. (1985). Sex and marital intimacy. Journal of Sex & Marital
Therapy, 11, 176-184.
Preacher, K. J., Rucker, D. D., & Hayes, A. F. (2007). Addressing moderated mediation
hypotheses: Theory, methods, and prescriptions. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 42,
185-227.
Reis, H. T. (2007). Steps toward the ripening of relationship science. Personal Relationships,
14, 1-23.
Reis, H. T., & Clark, M. S. (2013). Responsiveness. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.), The
Oxford handbook of close relationships (pp. 400-423). New York: Oxford University
Press.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 36
Reis, H. T., Clark, M. S., & Holmes, J. G. (2004). Perceived partner responsiveness as an
organizing construct in the study of intimacy and closeness. In D. J. Mashek & A. P.
Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 201–225). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Reis, H. T., Maniaci, M. R., Caprariello, P. A., Eastwick, P. W., & Finkel, E. J. (2011).
Familiarity does indeed promote attraction in live interaction. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 101, 557-570.
Rubin, H., & Campbell, L. (2012). Day-to-day changes in intimacy predict heightened
relationship passion, sexual occurrence, and sexual satisfaction: A dyadic diary analysis.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 224-231.
Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (2001). Prescriptive gender stereotypes and backlash toward agentic
women. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 743–762.
Sadalla, E. K., Kenrick, D. T., & Vershure, B. (1987). Dominance and heterosexual attraction.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 730–738.
Schmitt, D. P., Shackelford, T. K., & Buss, D. M. (2001). Are men really more oriented toward
short-term mating than women?: A critical review of theory and research. Psychology,
Evolution, and Gender, 3, 211-239.
Thornhill, R., & Gangestad, S. W. (2006). Facial sexual dimorphism, developmental stability,
and susceptibility to disease in men and women. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27,
131-144.
Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual
selection and the descent of man (pp. 136-179). Chicago: Aldine.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 37
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, Statistics, and Effect Sizes of the Study Measures for the Different
Conditions in Study 3
Unresponsive PartnerResponsive Partner
95% CI for
Cohen's d
Cohen's
d
t(78)
SDMSDM
(.08, .97)
.532.36*1.132.661.323.31Perceived femininity
(.68, 1.63)
1.165.11***1.162.171.193.51
Sexual arousal
(.56, 1.49)
1.034.56***1.122.401.083.52
Perceived attractiveness
(.79, 1.75)1.275.63***1.101.931.253.41Desire for
Long-term relationships
Note. ** p < .01, *** p < .001.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 38
Figure 1. Moderated-mediation model showing that perceived femininity fully mediated the
association between men’s perceptions of partner responsiveness and partner attractiveness in
Study 1.
Note. The value in parentheses is from the analysis of the effect without perceived
femininity/masculinity in the equation.
*p < .05; **p < .01.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 39
Figure 2. Moderated-mediation model showing that perceived femininity fully mediated the
effect of partner responsiveness manipulation on men’s perception of partner attractiveness in
Study 2.
Note. The value in parentheses is from the analysis of the effect without perceived
femininity/masculinity in the equation.
*p < .05; **p < .01.
RESPONSIVENESS, GENDER TYPICALITY, AND ATTRACTIVENESS 40
Figure 3. Two-step mediation model showing that the effect of partner responsiveness
manipulation on men’s perceptions of partner attractiveness and men's desire for a long-term
relationship was mediated by perceived femininity and sexual arousal in Study 3.
Note. The value in parentheses is from the analysis of the effect without perceived
femininity/masculinity and sexual arousal in the equation.
*p < .05; ***p < .001.
... The model has been developed to describe dyadic sexual desire in the context of romantic relationships, which we defined as close relationships where partners consider themselves seriously involved or committed. However, sexual desire also plays an important role in relationships with different levels of commitment and in different relational contexts, such as in initial acquaintanceships (Birnbaum et al., 2014), and non-romantic sexual relationships (Garcia et al., 2012;Jonason et al., 2011). Further research into dyadic interactions in such relationships and their link with dyadic sexual desire is needed to further elucidate the dyadic nature of sexual desire in both romantic and nonromantic relationships. ...
Article
Full-text available
In most theoretical models, sexual desire for one’s partner is predominantly conceptualized from an individual perspective. There is, however, a growing body of empirical evidence on the dyadic aspects of sexual desire. That evidence is as yet not well-integrated into theoretical conceptualizations of sexual desire. Aiming to fill this gap, we present the Dyadic Interactions Affecting DyadIC Sexual desire model (DIADICS), a new conceptual model inspired by systems theory that describes how dyadic interactions between partners influence dyadic sexual desire in romantic relationships. After defining dyadic sexual desire, we discuss (1) the structure of dyadic interactions, (2) their content, and (3) the process through which they affect dyadic sexual desire in a romantic relationship. Thereafter, we review theoretical, clinical, and empirical insights underscoring the relation between dyadic interactions and (dyadic) sexual desire, use DIADICS as a framework for understanding fluctuations in dyadic sexual desire in long-term relationships, and conclude by discussing implications of DIADICS for research and clinical practice.
... Yeni tanışan partnerlerle yapılan bir deneysel çalışmada erkeklerin APD değerlendirmesinin partner "kadınsılığını" belirlediği, bunun da cinsel arzuyu artırdığı gösterilmiştir. Erkeklerde APD ile cinsel uyarılma arasında doğrudan bir ilişki olduğu, bunun da algılanan çekiciliği ve partnerle uzun süreli ilişki yaşama isteğini olumlu yönde yordadığı belirlenmiştir (Birnbaum, Ein-Dor, Reis ve Segal, 2014). Bu bulgular özellikle erkekler için cinsel ilgiyi belirlemede APD'nin temel bir unsur olduğunu göstermektedir. ...
Article
Full-text available
Algılanan partner duyarlığı (APD) kişinin ihtiyaç duyduğu anlarda romantik partnerinin onu ne kadar anladığını, ona ne kadar değer verdiğini ve ilgi gösterdiğini değerlendirdiği bir süreçtir (Reis ve Shaver, 1988). APD’nin hem bireysel hem de yakın ilişkiler bakımından önemli sonuçları vardır. Yakın ilişkilerle ilgili birçok yapı belirli düzeylerde APD’yi kapsar. Birçok kuramsal yaklaşım (örn., bağlanma kuramı, öz-belirleme kuramı) da APD’nin kişisel ve ilişkisel süreçlerdeki önemine vurgu yapmaktadır. Bu nedenle APD ile ilgili çalışmalar özellikle son on yılda artan bir ivmeyle ön plana çıkmıştır. Bu yazıda APD’nin romantik ilişki yazınındaki yerini inceleyen mevcut çalışmalar derlenmiştir. Bu kapsamda, önce APD’nin psikolojik ve fiziksel esenlik, benlik düzenleme süreçleri ve ilişkisel işleyiş üzerindeki olumlu katkılarını saptayan çok sayıda çalışmanın bulguları özetlenmiştir. Sonra, APD’nin olası yordayıcıları ve romantik ilişkilerdeki rolünü açıklayan güncel modelleri sunulmuştur. Son olarak, bulguların kritik doğurgularına ilişkin değerlendirmelere ve gelecek çalışmalara yönelik bazı önerilere yer verilmiştir.
... In all likelihood, sexual desire for a potential partner functions as a visceral indicator of this partner's mate value that predicts exertions toward relationship pursuit (Birnbaum & Finkel, 2015;Birnbaum & Reis, 2019). As such, sexual desire should be particularly responsive to cues about a partner's value in the mating market (Birnbaum, 2018;Birnbaum et al., 2014), such as those cues that are linked to playing hard to get (e.g., having mating alternatives; Jonason & Li, 2013). In the present research, we explored whether perceiving a prospective romantic partner as hard to get during online and face-to-face interactions instigated sexual desire for this partner and whether perceptions of partner mate value explained this effect. ...
Article
Full-text available
Playing hard-to-get is a common strategy used to attract mates. Past research has been unclear about whether and why this strategy facilitates mate pursuit. In three studies, we examined whether perceiving potential partners as hard-to-get instigated sexual desire and whether perceived partner mate value explained this effect. In doing so, we focused on tactics that give the impression that potential partners are hard-to-get and may genuinely signal their mate value (being selective in choosing mates, efforts invested in their pursuit). In all studies, participants interacted with an opposite-sex confederate and rated their perceptions of the confederate. In Study 1, participants interacted with confederates whose profile indicated that they were either hard-to-get or easy-to-attract. In Study 2, participants exerted (or not) real efforts to attract the confederate. In Study 3, interactions unfolded spontaneously and were coded for efforts made to see the confederate again. Results indicated that the perception of whether a confederate was hard-to-get was associated with their mate value, which, in turn, predicted greater desire and efforts to see the confederate again, suggesting that being hard-to-get is an effective strategy that heightens perceptions of partners’ mate value.
... We tested moderated mediation using PROCESS model 59 of the bootstrapping process described by Hayes (2013) on the t 2 -t 1 evaluation index difference scores. This model has been used in other studies to allow the moderator (valence of own experience) to interact with both the independent variable (partner's experience) and the mediator (dismissal) (Birnbaum et al. 2014;Clark et al. 2017;Goncalo, Vincent, and Krause 2015). This is the most robust model to analyze our effect, given that the valence of the consumer's own experience also affects the direction of evaluation change following dismissal (see web appendix C for a full explanation of the model, its graphical depiction, and detailed analysis). ...
Article
This research focuses on the persuasive impact of a common yet understudied form of word of mouth (WOM): one-on-one conversations in which consumers share and compare past experiences with a product or service. In contrast to prior work on WOM influence, we discover a "positivity effect" in these conversations, such that consumers who share a negative experience form more favorable overall judgments after speaking with someone who had a positive experience, but consumers who share a positive experience are unaffected by learning about another's negative experience. This effect is mediated by consumers' dismissal of their own negative experience as a temporary or one-offevent in light of the other person's contrasting positive experience, and is facilitated by positive consumer expectations of product and service performance. We also identify a key boundary condition whereby the positivity effect of one-on-one conversations is moderated by whether consumers have positive or negative expectations of product or service performance. When expectations are negative, the positivity effect is dampened and a negativity effect emerges. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Individuals can be intimate with each other through a variety of mechanisms, but one of these key factors is Perceived Partner Responsiveness (PPR). Because there was no rich literature review on this construct in the country, the purpose of this study was to bring in the concept of perceived partner responsiveness, its elements, how this structure works, significant effects of this structure on different areas of individual's life and the positive consequences of its existence in relationships and the negative consequences of its absence in human interactions. This study was a systematic review of most of the scientific sources related to this structure in scientific databases. Related sources were downloaded from Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, Sage, Wiley, Springer, Taylor and Francis, and the social-scientific ResearchGate database from 1992 to 2022 and those sources that met the research criteria (sources that included the counteractive role of perceived partner responsiveness and also included the keywords of PPR and intimacy) were included in the study (57 studies) and unrelated sources (84 studies) were excluded (141 studies in total). Findings of various studies indicate that the perceived partner responsiveness by neutralizing negative consequences and increasing positive emotions, affections, and constructive attitudes toward each other in interactions has always been the most important predictor of intimacy and satisfaction in relationships. Consequently, PPR will develop the happiness and well-being of individuals.
Article
The attachment and sexual-mating behavioral systems operate jointly within romantic relationships and their reciprocal influences shape relationship quality and longevity. In line with evolutionary models and social perspectives, substantial evidence indicates that men and women differ in the sex-attachment linkage, such that men are more permissive in their sexual attitudes, adopt a more individualistic and pleasure-centered orientation toward sexuality, and are less likely to connect sexual encounters with emotional bonding relative to women. Men's higher sexual urges may also be related to common beliefs which assume that they are constantly interested in having sex, regardless of contextual cues. However, in the context of ongoing relationships, men's sexual motivations may be attuned to relationship goals and shaped by contextual factors such as their partner's responsiveness, attachment-related insecurities, and relationship duration. In this chapter, I present a more complex and nuanced picture of the sex-attachment linkage in men and discuss the multifaceted nature of their sexual desire within the relationship context. I review findings that demonstrate the role of men's sexual desire in the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships and challenge the common notion of the disconnect between men's sexual motivations and attachment needs. I also discuss the ways in which women's perceived responsiveness may shape men's sexual desire and felt security, especially among insecurely attached men. Furthermore, I review findings on the effect of women's displays of desire on men's attachment-related worries and dilemmas. Finally, I present findings on changes over relationship duration in men's sexual desire in committed, long-term relationships and discuss the importance of considering men's age when examining longitudinal effects of their desire and the extent to which men endorse emotional connection in sexual interactions. I conclude by discussing how men may satisfy relationship-related needs within the sexual arena in different relationship stages.
Article
The measurement of marital readiness needs to be based upon factors that could strengthen or weaken marital adjustment and sustainability. The few existing scales in this regard did not comprehend the factors required for marital adjustment and sustainability. The current study intended to develop and validate a new scale for marital readiness that could be used for both the genders and could establish a reliable probability for marital adjustment and sustainability. Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were conducted. The study involved 220 unmarried participants including 73 men and 147 women. The newly developed scale was accepted as a reliable and valid tool to be used further for the measurement of marital readiness.
Article
Full-text available
Recent studies have shown that activation of the sexual system encourages enactment of relationship-initiating behaviors (Birnbaum et al., 2017). In four studies, we expand on this work to explore whether people are more inclined to lie to impress a potential partner following sexual priming. In all studies, participants were exposed to sexual stimuli (versus non-sexual stimuli) and then interacted with an opposite-sex stranger. In Study 1, unacquainted participants resolved a dilemma while each represented opposing positions. In Study 2, participants rated their preferences, and after viewing a confederate's preferences, re-rated them in a profile shown to the confederate. In Studies 3 and 4, participants reported their number of lifetime sexual partners in anonymous questionnaires and during a chat (Study 3) or while completing an online profile (Study 4). Results indicated that following sexual priming, participants were more likely to conform to the stranger's views (Studies 1 and 2) and reported fewer sexual partners during actual and potential online interactions than in the questionnaires (Study 3). Although the results of Study 4 did not replicate the findings of Study 3, they were directionally consistent with them. Overall, the findings suggest that sexual priming motivates impression management even when it involves lying.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Interactions with virtual agents may have psychological and behavioral implications, even if the participants know that they are interacting with a virtual entity. As virtual agents are gradually becoming part of human society, it is important to understand the extent to which virtual encounters can affect our daily lives, and whether engaging in a specific behavior with virtual humans affects the way that individuals perceive and asses real humans in their surroundings. We examined the effect that seductive interplays might have on individuals in committed relationships and their way of managing a virtual threat to their relationship. One hundred and thirty heterosexual participants conversed with an opposite-sex virtual human in a virtual reality (VR) setup in either a seductive or neutral way. Shortly after, participants were interviewed by an attractive opposite-sex confederate. Results revealed that participants in the seductive condition felt increased feelings of guilt, and that participants in the seductive condition were more prone to devaluate the sexual and intellectual attractiveness of the confederate than participants in the neutral condition. This study thus demonstrates, for the first time, that flirting with a virtual human may influence real-life attitudes towards real people.
Article
Would-be-daters are surrounded by media messages that both target one gender and pit men and women against each other in the dating game (i.e., gendered relationship messages). How do these messages influence relationship initiation? In the present research, we focus on the consequences of being primed with gendered dating messages via actual book titles. We propose that such messages should have mixed consequences depending on (a) whether the reader’s gender is congruent with the message’s target gender and (b) the dating outcome. In two experiments, we tested how exposure to gendered dating messages influences emotions, motivation, and self-presentation. Individuals exposed to gender-incongruent messages exhibited higher self-protection motives. Conversely, those exposed to gender-congruent messages experienced reduced feelings of vulnerability, yet had the counterproductive consequence of creating less likeable self-presentations. Would-be-daters should be cautious in their exposure to both gender-congruent and gender-incongruent dating messages.
Article
Full-text available
The current research tested a model proposed by Baumeister and Bratslavsky (1999) suggesting that passion’s association with intimacy is best understood as being linked with changes in intimacy over time. Within this framework, when intimacy shows relatively large and rapid increases, levels of passion should be high. When intimacy remains unchanged over time, levels of passionate experience should be low. To test this hypothesis, 67 heterosexual couples involved in long-term relationships completed daily measures of intimacy, passion, and sexual satisfaction for 21 consecutive days. Analyses guided by the actor–partner interdependence model (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) demonstrated that day-to-day changes in intimacy for both partners predicted relationship passion, sexual frequency, and sexual satisfaction in a manner conforming to Baumeister and Bratslavksy’s model. These results represent the first empirical support for this model of intimacy and passionate experience.
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
Full-text available
Attitude theory is used to provide a conceptual analysis of how attitudes toward men and women relate to gender stereotypes. Consistent with this analysis, attitudes toward the sexes related positively to the evaluative meaning of the corresponding gender stereo-types. In addition, attitudes and stereotypes about women were extremely favorable - in fact, more favorable than those about men. The findings also demonstrated that the Attitudes Toward Women Scale assesses attitudes toward equal rights for women not attitudes toward women, and therefore did not relate to the evaluative meaning of subjects' stereotypes about women.
Article
With fixed predictors, the standard method (Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003, p. 86; Harris, 2001, p. 80; Hays, 1994, p. 709) for computing confidence intervals (CIs) for standardized regression coefficients fails to account for the sampling variability of the criterion standard deviation. With random predictors, this method also fails to account for the sampling variability of the predictor standard deviations. Nevertheless, under some conditions the standard method will produce CIs with accurate coverage rates. To delineate these conditions, we used a Monte Carlo simulation to compute empirical CI coverage rates in samples drawn from 36 populations with a wide range of data characteristics. We also computed the empirical CI coverage rates for 4 alternative methods that have been discussed in the literature: noncentrality interval estimation, the delta method, the percentile bootstrap, and the bias-corrected and accelerated bootstrap. Our results showed that for many data-parameter configurations-for example, sample size, predictor correlations, coefficient of determination (R2), orientation of β with respect to the eigenvectors of the predictor correlation matrix, RX-the standard method produced coverage rates that were close to their expected values. However, when population R2 was large and when β approached the last eigenvector of RX, then the standard method coverage rates were frequently below the nominal rate (sometimes by a considerable amount). In these conditions, the delta method and the 2 bootstrap procedures were consistently accurate. Results using noncentrality interval estimation were inconsistent. In light of these findings, we recommend that researchers use the delta method to evaluate the sampling variability of standardized regression coefficients. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Dynamic stereotypes characterize social groups that are thought to have changed from the attributes they manifested in the past and even to continue to change in the future. According to social role theory’s assumption that the role behavior of group members shapes their stereotype, groups should have dynamic stereotypes to the extent that their typical social roles are perceived to change over time. Applied to men and women, this theory makes two predictions about perceived change: (a) perceivers should think that sex differences are eroding because of increasing similarity of the roles of men and women and (b) the female stereotype should be particularly dynamic because of greater change in the roles of women than of men. This theory was tested and confirmed in five experiments that examined perceptions of the roles and the personality, cognitive, and physical attributes of men and women of the past, present, and future.