What is this?

This is the blog 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 find a text version of the podcast here.

Friday, 12 December 2014

November 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

October 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

September 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

August 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

Monday, 3 March 2014

February 2014: Evidence that botox and fillers work

This month, does Botox really make you appear younger, healthier and more attractive? Can we predict whether a woman will fall in love or lust with a man at first sight? And why Vladimir Putin is the world’s most confusing homophobe.

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A graph illustrating Plant's finding that people who are especially worried about being perceived as gay (high contagion) and who undergo a mating prime (being made to think about romantic partners) are more likely to express anti-gay attitudes. Note that warmth is lower amongst both the high contagion group and the mating prime group, but that it is only very low amongst those who are high contagion AND mating primed.

The articles covered in the show:

Fink, B., & Prager, M. (2014). The effect of incobotulinumtoxin A and dermal filler treatment on perception of age, health, and attractiveness of female faces. Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology, 7(1), 36-40. Read paper

Valentine, K. A., Li, N. P., Penke, L., & Perrett, D. I. (in press). Judging a man by the width of his face: The role of facial ratios and dominance in mate choice at speed-dating events. Psychological Science. Read summary

Plant, E. A., Zielaskowski, K., & Buck, D. M. (in press). Mating motives and concerns about being misidentified as gay or lesbian: Implications for the avoidance and derogation of sexual minorities. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read summary

Sunday, 2 February 2014

January 2014: Veils reduce attractiveness

Do Muslim men find women more attractive with or without a veil? How does sexuality influence our preferences for tall or short partners? And what are the best things to look for in a partner if you’re planning to take them home to meet the parents?

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Pazhoohi and Hosseinchari reported this month that men find women who wear a full veil (chador) are less attractive than women who wear clothes that don't conceal the body. But does the effect depend on the body shape of the wearer, or whether men judge women's attractiveness for a long- or short-term relationship?

The articles covered in the show:

Pazhoohi, F., & Hosseinchari, M. (in press). Effects of religious veiling on muslim men’s attractiveness ratings of muslim women. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Valentova, J. V., Stulp, G., Třebický, V., & Havlíček, J. (2014). Preferred and actual relative height among homosexual male partners vary with preferred dominance and sex role. PLoS One, 9(1), e86534. Read paper

Apostelou, M. (2014). Parental choice: Exploring in-law preferences and their contingencies in the Greek-Cypriot culture. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(1), 54-72. Read paper

Thursday, 26 December 2013

December 2013: Female competition special

Fight fight fight! It’s a female competition special! We all know men duke it out in the name of love, honour and occasionally plain boredom, but do women also seek to outcompete members of their own sex? And is this question so controversial we shouldn’t even be asking it?

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The articles covered in the show:

Durante, K. M., Griskevicius, V., Cantú, S. M., & Simpson, J. A. (in press). Money, status, and the ovulatory cycle. Journal of Marketing Research. Read summary

Fink, B. (2014). Female physical characteristics and intra-sexual competition in women. Personality and Individual Differences, 58, 138-141. Read summary

Muñoz-Reyes, J. A., Pita, M., Arjona, M., Sanchez-Pages, S., & Turiegano, E. (in press). Who is the fairest of them all? The independent effect of attractive features and self-perceived attractiveness on cooperation among women. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Piccoli, V., Foroni, F., & Carnaghi, A. (2013). Comparing group dehumanization and intra-sexual competition among normally ovulating women and hormonal contraceptive users. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(12), 1600-1609. Read summary

Vaillancourt, T. (2013). Do human females use indirect aggression as an intrasexual competition strategy? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B, 368, 20130080. Read summary