What is this?

This is the archive for the Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast, a monthly science show that covers the most interesting and cutting edge research on the psychology of attraction and relationships.

The podcast is produced by Dr. Rob Burriss, a research fellow at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK.

If you prefer to read rather than listen, you can browse podcast transcripts here.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

24 Feb 2015: Lingerie, chocolate, and shopping

The psychology of attraction meets consumer psychology: how female fertility influences desire for variety in products. And look but don’t touch: observing male behaviour in lingerie stores.

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More chocolate is always better than less chocolate. But new research shows that women are more interested in getting a good variety of chocolate (and other consumer products) when they're most fertile.

The articles covered in the show:

Moule, K. R., & Fisher, M. (2014). You can look but you cannot touch: Male behaviors observed in lingerie stores. Human Ethology Bulletin, 29(4), 4-17. Read paper

Durante, K. M., & Rae Arsena, A. (in press). Playing the field: The effect of fertility on women’s desire for variety. Journal of Consumer Research. Read summary

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Jan 2015: Killing the 'thin ideal'

Why do women have sex? We find out, using the YSEX? questionnaire. Also, how to stop the ‘thin ideal’ messing with our minds. And forget Star Wars - it’s time for Sperm Wars: are men turned on by pornography that depicts ‘sperm competition’?

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Participate in my research!
The psychology of fail videos (women only)
How do you help others?

Most women in the media are skinny, and consumers are taking this 'thin ideal' to heart. But what happens if we tell them that men prefer larger women?

The articles covered in the show:

Armstrong, H. L., & Reissing, E. D. (in press). Women’s motivations to have sex in casual and committed relationships with male and female partners. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Meltzer, A. L., & McNulty, J. K. (in press). Telling women that men desire women with bodies larger than the thin-ideal improves women’s body satisfaction. Social Psychological and Personality Science. Read summary

Prokop, P. (2015). Perception of intensity of sperm competition on the part of males. Personality and Individual Differences, 76, 99-103. Read summary

Friday, 26 December 2014

Dec 2014: Sexy footballers earn more money

We all know the stereotype of the handsome jock who scores on and off the field, but is there a real link between beauty and ball skills? Also, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but what can a person's food preferences tell you about the kind of relationships they're after? And we find out how to use science to craft the most effective internet dating profile. Score!

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Ronaldo scores loads of goals and is handsome as a Ken doll fresh from the factory. But are his ball skills and his beauty linked?

The articles covered in the show:

Rosar, U., Hagenah, J., & Klein, M. (in press). Physical attractiveness and monetary success in German Bundesliga. Soccer & Society. Read summary

Al-Shawaf, L., Lewis, D. M. G., Alley, T. R., & Buss, D. M. (in press). Mating strategy, disgust, and food neophobia. Appetite. Read summary

Strassberg, D. S., & English, B. L. (in press). An experimental study of men’s and women’s personal ads. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Friday, 12 December 2014

Nov 2014: Why do women who have anal sex, have anal sex?

"I’ll have what she’s having": why younger women are more prone to pursuing the partners of their peers. We also find out whether high heels really do put you one step ahead of the competition, and why women who engage in anal sex engage in anal sex. I mean seriously, why??

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Do high heels or flats make a woman more attractive? Nicolas Gueguen took to the streets of France to find out.

The articles covered in the show:

Little, A. C., Caldwell, C. A., Jones, B. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (in press). Observer age and the social transmission of attractiveness in humans: Younger women are more influenced by the choices of popular others than older women. British Journal of Psychology. Read summary

Guéguen, N. (in press). High heels increase women’s attractiveness. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Reynolds, G. L., Fisher, D. G., & Rogala, B. (in press). Why women engage in anal intercourse: Results from a qualitative study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Oct 2014: Is blonde hair attractive because it's rare?

Is blonde and red hair attractive because of how it looks, or because it’s rare? Also, “my genes made me do it”: can men (or women) blame their cheating ways on their genetic inheritance? And we also continue last month’s foray into the murky world of mate-poaching, and discover the differences between the sexes when it comes to detecting potential partner pilferers.

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Some have theorised that red and blonde hair is attractive because it is rare. New research by Zinnia Janif tests this idea. Image credit: qsimple on flickr.com

The articles covered in the show:

Janif, Z. J., Brooks, R. C., & Dixson, B. J. (in press). Are preferences for women's hair color frequency-dependent? Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. Read summary

Ein-Dor, T., Perry, A., Hirschberger, G., Birnbaum, G. E., & Deutsch, D. (in press). Coping with mate poaching: gender differences in detection of infidelity-related threats. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Zietsch, B. P., Westberg, L., Santtila, P., & Jern, P. (in press). Genetic analysis of human extrapair mating: Heritability, between-sex correlation, and receptor genes for vasopressin and oxytocin. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sept 2014: Why single, sex-hungry men crave an iPhone

This month we discover which personality traits make a person lucky in love. Also, how men and women respond differently when their partner is complimented, and why single men crave iPhones.

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What kind of man is desperate to buy an iPhone? New research suggests it's not only the kind of man who has the time and inclination to make himself a smartphone hat.

The articles covered in the show:

Hennighausen, C., & Schwab, F. (2014). Relationship status moderates men's conspicuous consumption of smartphones. Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science, 5(2), 13-16. Read summary

Berg, V., Lummaa, V., Lahdenperä, M., Rotkirch, A., & Jokela, M. (in press). Personality and long-term reproductive success measured by the number of grandchildren. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Brown, C. M., Daniels, E. R., Lustgraaf, C. J. N., & Sacco, D. F. (2014). Verbal compliments as a differential source of mate poaching threat for men and women. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(4), 736-756. Read paper

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Aug 2014: Brian Mautz on penis size; eat fruit to get a tan

Stay out of the sun! New research suggests that the skin colour change associated with sun tanning isn't as attractive as the effects of eating carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, pumpkins, and spinach. Can an attractive personality make you appear more attractive? And we find out why when women see red, women see red.

Plus, as a special summer surprise, Hannah Rowland of the Behavioural Ecology and Evolution Podcast interviews Brian Mautz at the ISBE2014 conference about his research on penis size and attractiveness.

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I was interviewed by Prof. Alice Roberts this month for an episode of BBC Radio 4's Inside Science. Click here and skip to 24.40 to hear me defend Evolutionary Psychology with all my (feeble) might!

Scoff the orange, but scoff it in the shade: new research by Carmen Lefevre shows that the skin colour we get from eating carotenoid rich foods is more attractive than the colour we get from tanning.

The articles covered in the show:

Mautz, B. S., Wong, B. B. M., Peters, R. A., & Jennions, M. D. (2013). Penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(17), 6925-6930. Read summary

Lefevre, C. E., & Perrett, D. I. (in press). Fruit over sunbed: Carotenoid skin coloration is found more attractive than melanin coloration. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Read summary

Zhang, Y., Kong, F., Zhong, Y., & Kou, H. (2014). Personality manipulations: Do they modulate facial attractiveness ratings? Personality and Individual Differences, 70, 80-84. Read summary

Pazda, A. D., Prokop, P., & Elliot, A. J. (in press). Red and romantic rivalry: viewing another woman in red increases perceptions of sexual receptivity, derogration, and intentions to mate-guard. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read summary

Thursday, 24 July 2014

July 2014: Criminals have more kids

This month, crime pays: we discover the link between criminal behaviour and reproduction, and find out why it makes sense to judge your criminal accomplices on their beauty. We also learn what a woman’s bank balance says about her attitude to promiscuity.

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New research shows that criminal offending might be part of an alternative reproductive strategy. That explains why the Godfather was the head of such a huge family, then.

The articles covered in the show:

Yao, S., Långström, N., Temrin, H., & Walum, H. (in press). Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: Investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Shinada, M., & Yamagishi, T. (in press). Physical attractiveness and cooperation in a prisoner's dilemma game. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Price, M. E., Pound, N., & Scott, I. M. (in press). Female economic dependence and the morality of promiscuity. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Friday, 4 July 2014

June 2014: How to get your sperm swimming like Michael Phelps

How to get a man’s sperm swimming like a shoal of miniature Michael Phelpses, and why expensive handbags are a weapon of war. We also find out what time of the month the idea of incest is most likely to make you throw up.

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New research shows that it's not just men who get excited by attractive women: their sperm do too.

The articles covered in the show:

Antfolk, J., Lieberman, D., Albrecht, A., & Santtila, P. (2014). The self-regulation effect of fertility status on inbreeding aversion: When fertile, disgust increases more in response to descriptions of one’s own than of other’s inbreeding. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(3), 621-631. Read paper

Hudders, L., De Backer, C., Fisher, M., & Vyncke, P. (2014). The rival wears Prada: Luxury consumption as a female competition strategy. Evolutionary Psychology. Read paper

Leivers, S., Rhodes, G., & Simmons, L. W. (in press). Context-dependent relationship between a composite measure of men’s mate value and ejaculate quality. Behavioral Ecology. Read summary



And here's that TED talk I mentioned in the podcast. Kristina Durante talks about how women's interest in mating, consumerism, and female-female competition vary over their ovulatory cycle.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

May 2014: "Vocal fry" and why Kim Kardashian will never get a proper job

Why Kim Kardashian would struggle finding a job outside showbiz, and how beauty is in the nose as well as the eye of the beholder. We also discover how male height impacts upon family size.

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Kanye must see something in Kim, but it's probably not her creaky, croaky voice: her "vocal fry".

The articles covered in the show:

Anderson, R. C., Klofstad, C. A., Mayew, W. J., & Venkatachalam, M. (2014). Vocal fry may undermine the success of young women in the labor market. PLoS One, 9(5), e97506. Read paper

Stulp, G., Mills, M., Pollet, T. V., & Barrett, L. (in press). Non-linear associations between stature and mate choice characteristics for American men and their spouses. American Journal of Human Biology. Read summary

Seubert, J., Gregory, K. M., Chamberland, J., Dessirier, J.-M., & Lundström, J. M. (2014). Odor valence linearly modulates attractiveness, but not age assessment, of invariant facial features in a memory-based rating task. PLoS One, 9(5), e98347. Read paper


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

April 2014: Melissa Fales on male testosterone

This month, in our fifth anniversary episode (WUHOO!), I speak to Melissa Fales of UCLA about her new research on men’s hormone levels and how they vary over the course of their girlfriend’s menstrual cycle. We’ll also look at two other experiments on ovulation and attraction out this month: one on relationship conflict, and another on the sexual allure of musicians.

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We're 5 years old this month! Good Lord, I'm old...

The articles covered in the show:

Fales, M. R., Gildersleeve, K. A., & Haselton, M. G. (in press). Exposure to perceived male rivals raises men’s testosterone on fertile relative to nonfertile days of their partner’s ovulatory cycle. Hormones and Behavior. Read summary

Gangestad, S. W., Garver-Apgar, C. E., Cousins, A. J., & Thornhill, R. (in press). Intersexual conflict across women’s ovulatory cycle. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Charlton, B. D. (2014). Menstrual cycle phase alters women's sexual preferences for composers of more complex music. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 281(1784), 20140403. Read summary

Monday, 7 April 2014

March 2014: Beautiful people live in beautiful homes

Is our attractiveness influenced by the rugs on our floors or the art on our walls? Are we more jealous when we're surrounded by people of the same or opposite sex? And we discover why younger fathers have better looking kids.

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Are people more attractive if they are photographed in a luxury apartment, rather than a standard $40 a week rat-hole with no functioning internet? New research by Michael Dunn of Cardiff Metropolitan University suggests the answer is yes: but only if you're a man.

The articles covered in the show:

Arnocky, S., Ribout, A., Mirza, R. S., & Knack, J. M. (2014). Perceived mate availability influences intrasexual competition, jealousy and mate-guarding behavior. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 12(1), 45-64. Read summary

Dunn, M. J., & Hill, A. (2014). Manipulated luxury-apartment ownership enhances opposite-sex attraction in females but not males. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 12(1), 1-17. Read summary

Huber, S., & Fielder, M. (in press). Advanced paternal age is associated with lower facial attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary