The sexual overperception bias is associated with sociosexuality

Emma C Howell, Pete J Etchells, Ian S Penton-Voak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As reproductive rates have the potential to be higher in men than women, it is more costly (from an evolutionary perspective) for men to miss a mating opportunity than women. This asymmetry in costs has been proposed to result in men being more sensitive to cues to sexual opportunity than women, and thus men are more likely than women to misperceive sexual interest from opposite sex others. To investigate this sexual misperception bias, smiling male and female faces were presented to participants who were asked to judge whether the face appeared friendly or flirtatious. Participants also completed a sociosexual orientation questionnaire in order to assess their current attitudes towards sexual relationships. In general, we found that males perceive female faces as flirtatious significantly more often than females. However, our results also suggested that people with high scores on the sociosexuality inventory (who rated themselves as more likely to engage in short-term, casual relationships), regardless of sex, had a tendency to perceive the faces of potential mates as more flirtatious, and that this variable explained more variance than sex alone. Our findings demonstrate that sociosexuality may mediate biases in perceiving the sexual intent of others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1016
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume53
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Cognitive Science
  • Social Cognition
  • Tobacco and Alcohol

Keywords

  • Sexual intent
  • Face perception
  • Sociosexual orientation
  • Gender differences

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