Something more than friends. We look at three new studies on attraction to opposite-sex friends. How do men and women differ in their attraction to friends? And can you make a friend fall in love with you by falling in love with them first?

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Why are we Attracted to Friends?

What a sickeningly cheerful bunch of friends. No doubt they are having lots of sex with each other, and we can only hope that the group will soon implode in a spiral of jealousy.Miguel Angel/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Bleske-Rechek, A., Joseph, W. E., Williquette, H., & Donovan, B. (in press). Sex differences in young adults' attraction to opposite-sex friends: Natural sampling versus mental concepts. Evolutionary Psychological Science. Read paper

Lemay Jr., E. P., & Wolf, N. R. (2016). Projection of romantic and sexual desire in opposite-sex friendships: How wishful thinking creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(7), 864-878. Read summary

Mogilski, J. K. & L. L. M. Welling (in press). Staying friends with an ex: Sex and dark personality traits predict motivations for post-relationship friendship. Personality and Individual Differences. Read summary

In this episode, how do our genitals affect the psychology of attraction and sex? We look at new research on female genital mutilation and its effects on women's sexuality, and find out whether a woman is more likely to experience an orgasm if her man has a longer than average penis.

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Do Women Have More Orgasms if their Sex Partner has a Longer than Average Penis?
Does FGM Make Women Less Interested in Sex?

Watch out, mate. You’ll have someone’s eye out. Enrique Lin/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Booksmythe, I., Head, M. L., Keogh, J. S., & Jennions, M. D. (in press). Fitness consequences of artificial selection on relative male genital size. Nature Communications, 7, 11597. Read summary

Drasa Jr., K. M., & Vasili, V. (2016). Which female prefer longer penises? International Journal of Science and Research, 5(5), 108-111.

Onyishi, I. E., Prokop, P., Okafor, C. O., & Pham, M. N. (2016). Female genital cutting restricts sociosexuality among the Igbo people of Southeast Nigeria. Evolutionary Psychology, 14(2). Read summary

We discover why beauty is in the nose of the beholder in this odor special. We'll find out whether spraying scented deodorant all over your body can make your smell more masculine or feminine, and we'll also learn if a man's whole mating psychology is turned topsy turvy when he catches a whiff of female pheromones.

Also, this is episode 100 of the podcast so if you want to send me lots of gifts then go right ahead.

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Perfume and Pheromones: Why Beauty is in the Nose of the Beholder

Scents -- whether natural or artificial -- can influence what we find attractive and even how we see ourselves. J. Sibiga/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Allen, C., Cobey, K. D., Havlíček, J., & Roberts, S. C. (in press). The impact of artificial fragrances on the assessment of mate quality cues in body odor. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Williams, M. N., & Jacobson, A. (2016). Effect of copulins on rating of female attractiveness, mate-guarding, and self-perceived sexual desirability. Evolutionary Psychology, 14(2). Read summary

Fertility and fairness: We look at how the menstrual cycle influences women's sharing behaviour, and find out why your hormones (and the hormones of other women) have an impact on what you feel is fair.

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Fertility and Fairness

New research suggests that, when women are most fertile, they demand more from their exchanges with other women. Dwayne Bent/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Eisenbruch, A. B., & Roney, J. R. (2016). Conception risk and the ultimatum game: When fertility is high, women demand more. Personality and Individual Differences, 98, 272-274. Read summary

Necka, E. A., Puts, D. A., Dimitroff, S. J., & Norman, G. J. (in press). Other women’s fertility moderates female resource distribution across the menstrual cycle. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Are you sick of how you smell? We investigate the link between susceptibility to disease and attraction to the body odour of others and ourselves. Also, how do women choose to wear red clothes?

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Sick of How You Smell?
Put on That Red Dress?

Our natural perfume can attract, or repel, potential mates: and sometimes ourselves! wackystuff/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Muggleton, N. K., & Fincher, C. L. (in press). The effects of disease vulnerability on preferences for self-similar scent. Evolutionary Psychological Science. Read paper

Niesta Kayser, D., Agthe, M., & Maner, J. K. (2016). Strategic sexual signals: Women's display versus avoidance of the color red depends on the attractiveness of an anticipated interaction partner. PLoS One, 11(3), e0148501. Read paper

The perils of dating your boss: do workplace romances have a positive or negative effect on your job prospects? And predicting the sex of your child: do women who prefer a certain type of man think they're more likely to give birth to boys or girls?

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It’s a Boy! Women Who Want a Son are More Attracted to Dominant Men
The Perils of Dating Your Boss


I don't think donning a giant shower cap is going to attract anyone, but OK... Gwendal Uguen/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Chan-Serafin, S., Teo, L., Minbashian, A., Cheng, D., & Wang, L. (in press). The perils of dating your boss: The role of hierarchical workplace romance and sex on evaluators’ career advancement decisions for lower status romance participants. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Read summary

Palmer-Hague, J. L., & Watson, N. V. (2016). Predicted offspring sex is related to women’s preferences for dominance in men. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 10(1), 10-28. Read summary

Let's take a walk on the wild side as we discover how a preference for macho men might be related to where we like to take an evening stroll. We'll also find out why sisters agree—and disagree—over what constitutes an attractive partner.

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Fear of Crime and the Allure of Bad Boys
Sisters Choosing Him For Themselves

Women may prefer dominant men because they make good bodyguards. Warner Bros Entertainment

The articles covered in the show:

Ryder, H., Maltby, J., Rai, L., Jones, P., & Flowe, H. D. (in press). Women's fear of crime and preference for formidable mates: How specific are the underlying psychological mechanisms? Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Biegler, R., & Kennair, L. E. O. (2016). Sisterly love: Within-generation differences in ideal partner for sister and self. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 10(1), 29-42. Read summary

What women want: we investigate whether women's preference for taller men leads to a lifetime of happiness, and find out if it's more important for a man to be generous than handsome.

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Altruistic Vs Handsome: Which Makes a Man More Attractive?
Does a Taller Husband Make for a Happier Wife?


"Oh, FJ-2547, you really shouldn't have!" Is it more important for a man to be generous than handsome? Kristina Alexanderson / Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Farrelly, D., Clemson, P., & Guthrie, M. (2016). Are women’s mate preferences for altruism also influenced by physical attractiveness? Evolutionary Psychology, 14(1). Read summary

Sohn, K. (2016). Does a taller husband make his wife happier? Personality and Individual Differences, 91, 14-21. Read summary

I recently attended the Galton Institute's conference on mate choice, and was lucky to grab an interview with Prof. Melinda Mills, head of The University of Oxford's Department of Sociology. We spoke about Melinda's research on ethnicity and internet dating, why attitudes to migration shape who we are willing to date, and discussed some of the difficulties inherent in studying dating preferences on the web. I also talk about some new research on selfies and who takes them.

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Who Takes Selfies?


Men and women post a similar number of ‘relfies’ to social media. Roberto Trombetta/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Potârcă, G., & Mills, M. (2015). Racial preferences in online dating across European countries. European Sociological Review, 31(3), 326-341. Read summary

Sorakowska, A., Oleszkiewicz, A., Frackowiak, T., Pisanski, K., Chmiel, A., & Sorokowski, P. (2016). Selfies and personality: Who posts self-portrait photographs? Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 119-123. Read summary

Masculine masks: what a bushy beard says about a man's attitudes to women, and why a hit of the male hormone testosterone could have you reaching for your make up bag.

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NOTE (8th Feb 2016): The scientists behind the testosterone and make up research have voluntarily retracted their paper. For more information, visit Retraction Watch.

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Feeling Hormonal? Slap on the Makeup
Are Bearded Men More Sexist?


Eurovision winner, Conchita Wurst. Pretty much the perfect image for a podcast about beards and make up. Alexander Gotter/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Fisher, C. I., Hahn, A. C., DeBruine, L. M., & Jones, B. C. (in press). Women’s preference for attractive makeup tracks changes in their salivary testosterone. Psychological Science. Read summary

Oldmeadow, J. A., & Dixson, B. J. (in press). The association between men’s sexist attitudes and facial hair. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Checking in? I talk to Dasa Fabjan about how the attractiveness of hotel guests can influence the service they receive. We'll also find out why the size of your Christmas bonus might be linked to your appearance.

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Paid and Pretty


Hotel receptionists are often asked to project an attractive appearance, but do they also pay attention to the appearance of their customers? Linford Butler/Flickr

The articles covered in the show:

Fruhen, L. S., Watkins, C. D., & Jones, B. C. (in press). Perceptions of facial dominance, trustworthiness and attractiveness predict managerial pay awards in experimental tasks. The Leadership Quarterly. Read summary

Knežević, M., Tomka, D., Bizjak, B., Fabjan, D., & Kukulj, S. (2015). The physical appearance of hotel guests: The impact on service providers’ communication and quality of service. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 51, 8-14. Read summary

Diet and desire: Why you and your partner shouldn't turn your nose up at garlic, and how men get greedy when there's a woman in the room. Also, since it's #AntiBullyingWeek, we also find out why bullying may be a mating tactic.

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Another Slice of Pizza, Darling?
Eating Garlic Combats Body Odor!
Do Bullies Want Love, Not War?


Men eat more pizza when in the company of women. Louise Ma / WNYC

The articles covered in the show:

Fialová, J., Roberts, S. C., & Havlíček, J. (in press). Consumption of garlic positively affects hedonic perception of axillary body odour. Appetite. Read summary

Kniffin, K. M., Sigirci, O., & Wansink, B. (in press). Eating heavily: Men eat more in the company of women. Evolutionary Psychological Science. Read summary

Volk, A. A., Dane, A. V., Marini, Z. A., & Vaillancourt, T. (in press). Adolescent bullying, dating, and mating: Testing an evolutionary hypothesis. Evolutionary Psychology. Read summary