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Abstract

Romantic relationships with a large age difference between partners are judged to be less acceptable, more disgusting, and less likely to succeed than age-similar relationships. We investigated the role of strategic moralization in condemnation of man-older age-discrepant relationships. We hypothesized that (1) this condemnation promotes self-serving interests of those who stand to lose from violation of age-based assortative mating, and (2) endorsement of prostitution mediates the association between participant's age and condemnation of man-older age-discrepant relationships because these relationships make the exchange of sex for resources explicit and acceptable. Using self-reports from 430 participants, we documented that endorsement of prostitution mediates the association between age and condemnation of man-older age-discrepant relationships for women but not men.

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... The nearly 20-year age difference between General Petraeus' wife and mistress was detectable in the gray hair of Holly Petraeus in the photographs, but participants were not asked to provide their estimations of the ages of either. Further, large age discrepancies in a relationship (such as the 20-year age difference between General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell) often elicit a strong moral reaction (Sela et al., 2018). Therefore, an interesting follow-up study might compare evaluations of an affair with a large age discrepancy to evaluations of an affair with a small age discrepancy. ...
Article
We investigated sex differences in cognitive and moral appraisals of sexual infidelity using the case of General David Petraeus as an example. Because visual stimulation may impact psychological evaluations of other people's behavior, including infidelity, participants were randomly assigned to view either a photograph (n = 127) of General Petraeus with his wife plus a photograph of him with his mistress, or a photograph (n = 195) of General Petraeus alone. Both conditions included an identical brief description of the scandal following his affair with his biographer. Participants provided their moral appraisal and cognitive appraisal of infidelity after viewing the visual stimuli. As predicted, men more than women reported lower scores of moral appraisal (“condemnation”) and higher scores of cognitive appraisal (“understanding”) across both conditions. Men who viewed photographs of General Petraeus with his wife and with his mistress reported higher cognitive appraisal than did men who viewed a photograph depicting General Petraeus alone. These results suggest sex differences in appraisals of infidelity, which are particularly salient when participants are presented with visual stimuli contrasting the wife and the more attractive mistress of the unfaithful man.
... To the extent that female promiscuity reduces the value of sex, women may condemn (and wish to punish) promiscuity in other women to preserve sex as a resource to be leveraged when negotiating with their male partner. Similarly, people (especially women) tend to condemn agediscrepant relationships (e.g., an older man with a younger women), and this condemnation appears to be, in part, driven by attitudes about the acceptability of soliciting sex for pay (e.g., prostitution; Sela et al., 2018). Among parents, individuals with higher parenting motives report being more vigilant of moral violations and higher on social conservativism, suggesting that parental investment is associated with the motive to produce more cohesive and uniform social groups (Kerry and Murray, 2018). ...
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This chapter outlines how Robert Trivers’ Parental Investment Theory (PIT) has progressed from its original publication in Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man through its expansive application to research in the evolutionary psychological sciences. I begin with an abridged redux of the theory’s claims and predictions as they appeared within the original 1972 publication. After, I review groundbreaking research inspired by PIT and evaluate how well the theory has been empirically supported in the past 50 or so years. I then note several major theoretical advancements and address conflicts with other prominent theories of mating and parenting behavior. The chapter closes with several future directions that may help PIT remain a robust and relevant framework for studying human psychology within an increasingly technologically and socially complex world.
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Previous research indicates that women find men more desirable when they appear to be desired by other women than in the absence of such cues—an effect referred to as female mate choice copying. Female mate choice copying is believed to emerge from a process whereby women use the presence of a man’s mate as a cue to his own quality. Here, we test this hypothesis explicitly by examining whether the desirability enhancement effect conferred on men by the presumed interest of an attractive female (a) emerges only when the female is described as being a man’s current romantic partner (Experiment 1) and (b) is mediated by women’s belief that men partnered to attractive women possess unobservable qualities that women value in their romantic partners (Experiment 2). The results of our two experiments found support for these hypotheses, shedding new light on the processes influencing human female mate choice copying.
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Contemporary mate preferences can provide important clues to human reproductive history. Little is known about which characteristics people value in potential mates. Five predictions were made about sex differences in human mate preferences based on evolutionary conceptions of parental investment, sexual selection, human reproductive capacity, and sexual asymmetries regarding certainty of paternity versus maternity. The predictions centered on how each sex valued earning capacity, ambition— industriousness, youth, physical attractiveness, and chastity. Predictions were tested in data from 37 samples drawn from 33 countries located on six continents and five islands (total N = 10,047). For 27 countries, demographic data on actual age at marriage provided a validity check on questionnaire data. Females were found to value cues to resource acquisition in potential mates more highly than males. Characteristics signaling reproductive capacity were valued more by males than by females. These sex differences may reflect different evolutionary selection pressures on human males and females; they provide powerful cross-cultural evidence of current sex differences in reproductive strategies. Discussion focuses on proximate mechanisms underlying mate preferences, consequences for human intrasexual competition, and the limitations of this study.
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Does familiarity promote attraction? Prior research has generally suggested that it does, but a recent set of studies by Norton, Frost, and Ariely (2007) challenged that assumption. Instead, they found that more information about another person, when that information was randomly selected from lists of trait adjectives, using a trait evaluation paradigm, promoted perceptions of dissimilarity and, hence, disliking. The present research began with the assumption that natural social interaction involves contexts and processes not present in Norton et al.'s research or in the typical familiarity experiment. We theorized that these processes imply a favorable impact of familiarity on attraction. Two experiments are reported using a live interaction paradigm in which two previously unacquainted same-sex persons interacted with each other for varying amounts of time. Findings strongly supported the "familiarity leads to attraction" hypothesis: The more participants interacted, the more attracted they were to each other. Mediation analyses identified three processes that contribute to this effect: perceived responsiveness, increased comfort and satisfaction during interaction, and perceived knowledge.
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The finding that women are attracted to men older than themselves whereas men are attracted to relatively younger women has been explained by social psychologists in terms of economic exchange rooted in traditional sex-role norms. An alternative evolutionary model suggests that males and females follow different reproductive strategies, and predicts a more complex relationship between gender and age preferences. In particular, males' preference for relatively Younger females should be minimal during early mating years, but should become more pronounced as the male gets older. Young females are expected to prefer somewhat older males during their early years and to change less as they age. We briefly review relevant theory and present results of six studies testing this prediction. Study 1 finds support for this gender-differentiated prediction in age preferences expressed in personal advertisements. Study 2 supports the prediction with marriage statistics from two U.S. cities. Study 3 examines the cross-generational robustness of the phenomenon, and finds the same pattern in marriage statistics from 1923. Study 4 replicates Study 1 using matrimonial advertisements from two European countries, and from India. Study 5 finds a consistent pattern in marriages recorded from 1913 through 1939 on a small island in the Philippines. Study 6 reveals the same pattern in singles advertisements placed by financially successful American women and men. We consider the limitations of previous normative and evolutionary explanations of age preferences and discuss the advantages of expanding previous models to include the life history perspective.
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Four theories about cultural suppression of female sexuality are evaluated. Data are reviewed on cross-cultural differences in power and sex ratios, reactions to the sexual revolution, direct restraining influences on adolescent and adult female sexuality, double standard patterns of sexual morality, female genital surgery, legal and religious restrictions on sex, prostitution and pornography, and sexual deception. The view that men suppress female sexuality received hardly any support and is flatly contradicted by some findings. Instead, the evidence favors the view that women have worked to stifle each other's sexuality because sex is a limited resource that women use to negotiate with men, and scarcity gives women an advantage.
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Over the course of human evolutionary history, individuals have required protection from other individuals who sought to exploit them. Moralization – broadcasting relevant behaviors as immoral – is proposed as a strategy whereby individuals attempt to engage third parties in the protection against exploitation. Whereas previous accounts of strategic morality have focused on the effect of individual differences in mating strategies, we here argue for the importance of another factor: differences in the availability of alternative sources of protection. Given the potential costs of moralization, it is predicted that it is primarily used among individuals lacking protection in the form of social allies. Consistent with this, a large cross-national set of surveys is used to reveal how individuals without friends moralize more. In contrast, however, support from other social sources such as family or religious individuals increases moralization.
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The mean age at marriage is increasing in nearly all regions of the world, with the gender age difference at marriage tending to decrease. Five hypotheses for these trends (economic modernization, supply and demand, social/cultural/religious influences, healthcare quality, and longevity risk sharing) are tested through cross-country regression analyses of the timing and prevalence of marriage, using 40 explanatory variables from 156 countries. The dependent variables are female mean age at marriage, gender age difference, and proportion of females married by age 20-24. Ample evidence of the impact of economic modernization and education is found. The influence of cultural beliefs is evidenced by the presence of religious variables in several selected regression equations.
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Using the distinction between communal and exchange relationships, it was hypothesized that failure to offer repayment for a favour would create perceptions of exploitativeness and decreases in attraction in exchange relationships but not in communal relationships. To test these hypotheses, subjects were led to expect a communal or an exchange relationship with a confederate. Shortly afterwards, the confederate asked the subject for a favour and subsequently either promised repayment or not. Finally, subjects indicated how exploitative and attractive they perceived the other to be. As predicted, failure to offer repayment increased perceived exploitativeness and decreased attraction when an exchange relationship was expected but not when a communal relationship was expected.
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To help a broad array of practitioners identify women at greatest risk, the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study explored factors indicating significant danger of death or life-threatening injury in intimate violence situations. The study compared longitudinal interviews with physically abused women sampled at health centers with similar interviews of people who knew intimate partner homicide victims. The many agencies and individuals who collaborated to accomplish this complex project feel that the collaboration was successful because it evolved, developed a collaborative culture, had permeable role definitions, and agreed on a few central research and practice standards.
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The moral approbation model has recently been proposed as a partial explanation for the observed disparity between moral decisions and moral action. A critical component of this model is an untested individual-difference variable, desired moral approbation, defined as the amount of approval that individuals require from themselves or others in order to proceed with moral actions without discomfort. This study focused on the development of a scale that measures individuals’desire for moral approbation. Factor analysis of data gathered from university business students (N = 382) supported the viability of desired moral approbation, which was composed of three distinct constructs: (a) desire for moral praise from others, (b) desire to avoid moral blame from others, and (c) desire for moral approval from the self.
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Eighty-nine male and female undergraduates completed the Attitudes toward Feminism Scale and the author-devised Attitudes Toward Prostitution Scale, which contained five factors. Profeminist attitudes were related to three out of five factors. Respondents scoring in a profeminist direction were more likely to view prostitution as reflecting exploitation and subordination of women, less likely to believe women become prostitutes out of economic necessity, and less likely to approve of decriminalization and legalization of prostitution. Gender differences also appeared that were not explained by differences in profeminist attitudes: women were more likely than men to disagree with decriminalization and legalization efforts and were more likely to view prostitution as reflecting exploitation and subordination.
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The present study examined desired minimum and maximum ages for mates across five different levels of relationship involvement (marriage, serious relationship, falling in love, casual sex, and sexual fantasies) comparing individuals of 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 years old. Consistent with previous findings, women preferred partners of their own age, regardless of their own age and regardless of the level of relationship involvement. Men, on the other hand, regardless of their own age, desired mates for short-term mating and for sexual fantasies who were in their reproductive years. However, with regard to long-term mates, men preferred mates who, although younger than them, were sometimes above the age of maximum fertility. Explanations for these findings are discussed.
Article
Like many Bayesians, I have often represented classical confidence intervals as posterior probability intervals and interpreted one-sided P values as the posterior probability of a positive effect. These are valid conditional on the assumed noninformative prior but typically do not make sense as unconditional probability statements. As Sander Greenland has discussed in much of his work over the years, epidemiologists and applied scientists in general have knowledge of the sizes of plausible effects and biases. I believe that a direct interpretation of P values as posterior probabilities can be a useful start-if we recognize that such summaries systematically overestimate the strength of claims from any particular dataset. In this way, I am in agreement with Greenland and Poole's interpretation of the one-sided P value as a lower bound of a posterior probability, although I am less convinced of the practical utility of this bound, given that the closeness of the bound depends on a combination of sample size and prior distribution.The default conclusion from a noninformative prior analysis will almost invariably put too much probability on extreme values. A vague prior distribution assigns much of its probability on values that are never going to be plausible, and this disturbs the posterior probabilities more than we tend to expect-something that we probably do not think about enough in our routine applications of standard statistical methods. Greenland and Poole1 perform a valuable service by opening up these calculations and placing them in an applied context.
Article
When searching for a mate, one must gather information to determine the mate value of potential partners. By focusing on individuals who have been previously chosen by others, one's selection of mates can be influenced by another's successful search—a phenomenon known as mate copying. We show mate copying in humans with a novel methodology that closely mimics behavioral studies with non-human animals. After observing instances of real mating interest in video recordings of speed-dates, both male and female participants show mate copying effects of heightened short-term and long-term relationship interest towards individuals in dates they perceived as successful. Furthermore, the relative attractiveness of observers and observed plays a mediating role in whom an individual will choose to copy.
Article
There is substantial evidence that in human mate choice, females directly select males based on male display of both physical and behavioral traits. In non-humans, there is additionally a growing literature on indirect mate choice, such as choice through observing and subsequently copying the mating preferences of conspecifics (mate choice copying). Given that humans are a social species with a high degree of sharing information, long-term pair bonds, and high parental care, it is likely that human females could avoid substantial costs associated with directly searching for information about potential males by mate choice copying. The present study was a test of whether women perceived men to be more attractive when men were presented with a female date or consort than when they were presented alone, and whether the physical attractiveness of the female consort affected women’s copying decisions. The results suggested that women’s mate choice decision rule is to copy only if a man’s female consort is physically attractive. Further analyses implied that copying may be a conditional female mating tactic aimed at solving the problem of informational constraints on assessing male suitability for long-term sexual relationships, and that lack of mate choice experience, measured as reported lifetime number of sex partners, is also an important determinant of copying.
Article
A series of biennial surveys in Norway have found large age differences in value orientation, exceeding those found for other social background variables. What lies behind the age differences, cohort or life cycle effects, is investigated by means of cohort analyses. A change diagram permitting the simultaneous presentation of results for several variables is developed. The pattern of change is varied, whether one looks at value dimensions, indexes or indicators, suggesting the existence of stable cohort differences as well as changing preferences over time for individuals. The substance of the results contradicts the postmaterialism theory of Ronald Inglehart. The population trends, as well as the preferences of the young, are characterized by a preoccupation with material possessions and consumption rather than postmaterialist values.
Article
A particularly nasty husband might hit his wife with the sharp edge of a machete or axe or shoot a barbed arrow into some nonvital area, such as the buttocks or the leg. Another brutal punishment is to hold the glowing end of a piece of firewood against the wife's body, producing painful and serious burns. Normally, however, the husband's reprimands are consistent with the perceived seriousness of the wife's shortcomings, his more drastic measures being reserved for infidelity or suspicion of infidelity. It is not uncommon for a man to seriously injure a sexually errant wife, and some husbands have shot and killed unfaithful wives. I was told about one young man in Monou-teri who shot and killed his wife in a rage of sexual jealousy, and during one of my stays in the villages a man shot his wife in the stomach with a barbed arrow ... Another man chopped his wife on the arm with a machete; some tendons to her fingers were severed ... A club fight involving a case of infidelity took place in one of the villages just before the end of my first field trip. The male paramour was killed, and the enraged husband cut off both of his wife's ears ... - Yanomamö (Venezuela); from Chagnon (1992, p. 147) "N/ahka, a middle aged woman, was attacked by her husband. His assault resulted in injuries to her face, head and lips. Her husband accused her of sleeping with another man ... N/ahka and her husband had been married for many years but had no children together. Her only child was a girl of about fourteen years whose father was a Herero, and to whom N/ahka had not been married. The father had never contributed to his daughter's support, and for many years the child had been reared by N/ahka's parents who lived in a different village. When N/ahka's parents heard about the beating, they made plans to lodge a formal complaint ... against their son -in-law. Other people, not close relatives of N/ahka or her husband, claimed that the couple had a long history of discord, allegedly because the wife liked to sleep with Bantu men.
Article
We conducted a comprehensive analysis of assortative mating (i.e., the similarity between wives and husbands on a given characteristic) in a newlywed sample. These newlyweds showed (a) strong similarity in age, religiousness, and political orientation; (b) moderate similarity in education and verbal intelligence; (c) modest similarity in values; and (d) little similarity in matrix reasoning, self- and spouse-rated personality, emotional experience and expression, and attachment. Further analyses established that similarity was not simply due to background variables such as age and education and reflected initial assortment (i.e., similarity at the time of marriage) rather than convergence (i.e., increasing similarity with time). Finally, marital satisfaction primarily was a function of the rater's own traits and showed little relation to spousal similarity.
Article
According to evolutionary psychology, the preference for some facial characteristics reflects adaptations for mate choice because they signal aspects of mate quality. Although morphological features such as facial symmetry and sexually dimorphic traits have been studied extensively in recent years, little is known about skin condition in this context. The preferences for young and healthy looking skin could offer an explanation as to why women place such an importance on the condition of their skin and its refinement through e.g., cosmetic products. Recent research showed that facial skin colour distribution significantly influences the perception of age and attractiveness of female faces, independent of skin surface topography cues. However, the relative effect of skin colour distribution and topography cues on age and health perception remains to be investigated. We present data showing that both skin colour distribution and skin surface topography cues not only significantly influence the perception of female facial age and health but also convey differential information with regard to the strength of these effects. Our data indicate that skin surface topography cues account for a large proportion of variation in facial age perception, whereas skin colour distribution seems to be a stronger health cue.
Opinions towards sexual partners with a large age difference
  • L S Aiken
  • S G West
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Banks, C. A., & Arnold, P. (2001). Opinions towards sexual partners with a large age difference. Marriage & Family Review, 33, 5-18.
May-December: Canadians in age-discrepant relationships
  • M Boyd
  • A Li
Boyd, M., & Li, A. (2003). May-December: Canadians in age-discrepant relationships. Canadian Social Trends, 70, 29-33.
May-December paradoxes: An exploration of age-gap relationships in western society
  • J Lehmiller
  • C Agnew
Lehmiller, J., & Agnew, C. (2011). May-December paradoxes: An exploration of age-gap relationships in western society. In W. R. Cupach, & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.). The Dark Side of Close Relationships II. New York, NY: Routledge.
May-December paradoxes: An exploration of age-gap relationships in Western Society
  • C Rudder
Rudder, C.. May-December paradoxes: An exploration of age-gap relationships in Western Society. (2010, February 16). Retrieved from http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/ the-case-for-an-older-woman/ (March 15, 2016).
Marital and nonmarital union separation in Canada. Paper presented at the International Union for Scientific Study of Population
  • Z Wu
  • R Hart
Wu, Z., & Hart, R. (2001). Marital and nonmarital union separation in Canada. Paper presented at the International Union for Scientific Study of Population.