Men with big feet. Dec 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

The recipe for the perfect man. Tall, dark and handsome? How about tall, rich and with huge feet?


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You know what they say about men with big feet, right?

The articles covered in the show:

Stulp, G., Pollet, T. V., Verhulst, S., & Buunk, A. P. (in press). A curvilinear effect of height on reproductive success in human males. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Read summary

Jonason, P. K., Li, N. P., & Madson, L. (in press). It is not all about the Benjamins: Understanding preferences for mates with resources. Personality and Individual Differences. Read summary

Fessler, D. M. T., Stieger, S., Asaridou, S. S., Bahia, U., Cravalho, C., de Barros, P., et al. (in press). Testing a postulated case of intersexual selection in humans: The role of foot size in judgments of physical attractiveness and age. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

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Women who want more kids look more feminine. Nov 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

How beauty is contributing to the worldwide population explosion, why men turn into idiots when a woman steps into the room, and why Meg Ryan was right: how frequently do women fake orgasm and why do they do it?


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From Miriam Law-Smith's study, composite faces of 18 women with lowest ‘ideal number of children’ (left) and 18 women with highest ‘ideal number of children’ (right).

The articles covered in the show:

Law Smith, M. J., Deady, D. K., Moore, F. R., Jones, B. C., Cornwell, R. E., Stirrat, M., et al. (in press). Maternal tendencies in women are associated with oestrogen levels and facial femininity. Hormones and Behavior. Read summary

Nauts, S., Metzmacher, M., Verwijmeren, T., Rommeswinkel, V., & Karremans, J. C. (in press). The mere anticipation of an interaction with a woman can impair men’s cognitive performance. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

Kaighobadi, F., Shackelford, T. K., & Weekes-Shackelford, V. A. (in press). Do women pretend orgasm to retain a mate? Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

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Sex differences in jealousy. Oct 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

What’s the best way to investigate jealousy? In the lab, or on TV? Also, gossip: what is it good for, and how is idle chit chat linked to beauty? And why sharing Sunday lunch with mum and dad can make you broody.


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Using footage from a TV show about cheaters caught out on camera, Barry Kuhle investigated sex differences in the causes of jealousy.

The articles covered in the show:

Kuhle, B. X. (2011). Did you have sex with him? Do you love her? An in vivo test of sex differences in jealous interrogations. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(8), 1044-1047. Read summary

Massar, K., Buunk, A. P., & Rempt, S. (in press). Age differences in women’s tendency to gossip are mediated by their mate value. Personality and Individual Differences. Read summary

Waynforth, D. (in press). Grandparental investment and reproductive decisions in the longitudinal 1970 British cohort study. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. Read summary

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Are powerful people more likely to cheat? Sept 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but does it turn you into a cheat? Also, can a high-powered computer program work out what makes a face attractive? And why are women who prefer marriage to a short-term fling more forgiving of a wonky nose?


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Did Bill cheat because power went to his head? And would Hillary have done the same thing in his shoes? New research by Joris Lammers suggests some answers.

The articles covered in the show:

Lammers, J. S., J. I., Jordan, J., Pollman, M., & Stapel, D. A. (2011). Power increases infidelity among men and women. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1191-1197. Read summary

Said, C. P., & Todorov, A. (2011). A statistical model of facial attractiveness. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1183-1190. Read summary

Quist, M. C., Watkins, C. D., Smith, F. G., Little, A. C., DeBruine, L. M., & Jones, B. C. (in press). Sociosexuality predicts women’s preferences for symmetry in men’s faces. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

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Avoiding sexual assault, with Carin Perilloux. August 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

The risk factors for rape: is sexual assault indiscriminate or are some women at greater risk than others? I speak with Carin Perilloux to find out. Also this month, can a conservative fall for a liberal, or is the bedroom a politics-free zone? And how exercising with the opposite sex bewilders your biochemistry.


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The Slut Walks that were held worldwide earlier this year demonstrate that advice about how women might avoid sexual assault is often unwelcome, especially if it focuses on changing women's behaviour. However, as Carin Perilloux told me in this month's interview, "it should be presented as 'here is all the information; you're educated women, you can make your own choices, you decide what you want to do.'" Listen in to discover more about Carin's research on the risk factors for rape.

The trailer for Politics of Love, a romcom set during the 2008 presidential campaign which is currently enjoying a very, very limited release. Coincidentally enough, political scientist Casey Klofstad published research this month suggesting that politics might be important for long-term couples, but that very few people advertise their political predilections when seeking a partner.

The articles covered in the show:

Felson, R. B., & Cundiff, P. R. (in press). Age and sexual assault during robberies. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Perilloux, C., Duntley, J. D., & Buss, D. M. (2011). Susceptibility to sexual victimization and women’s mating strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 783-786. Read summary

Miller, S. L., Maner, J. K., & McNulty, J. K. (in press). Adaptive attunement to the sex of individuals at a competition: the ratio of opposite- to same-sex individuals correlates with changes in competitors' testosterone levels. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Klofstad, C. A., McDermott, R., & Hatemi, P. K. (in press). Do bedroom eyes wear political glasses? The role of politics in human mate attraction. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

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Is physiognomy really a pseudoscience? July 2011

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

How the roundness of a man’s face can predict whether he’s a liar, why testosterone fuelled men don’t like helping around the house, and how a woman’s fertility influences the warmth of her personality.


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Physiognomy used to be considered a pseudoscience, but it's now experiencing a resurgence, thanks in part to improved methods and a more rigid application of the scientific method.

The articles covered in the show:

Haselhuhn, M. P., & Wong, E. M. (in press). Bad to the bone: facial structure predicts unethical behaviour. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. Read summary

Pollet, T. V., van der Meij, L., Cobey, K. D., & Buunk, A. P. (2011). Testosterone levels and their associations with lifetime number of opposite sex partners and remarriage in a large sample of American elderly men and women. Hormones and Behavior, 60(1), 72-77. Read summary

Markey, P., & Markey, C. (in press). Changes in women’s interpersonal styles across the menstrual cycle. Journal of Research in Personality. Read summary

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Do siblings match in beauty? June 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

Does being attractive always help? We discover the social advantages that come with being slightly less than supermodel material. Also, do attractive people have attractive brothers and sisters, and where are all the female comedians? Do women prefer hearing jokes to telling them?


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Same-sex siblings, like the Kardashian sisters, tend to be similar in attractiveness. But what about opposite-sex siblings?

If you find the section on humour interesting, you might like this episode in which I interview Norm Li about his humour research.

The articles covered in the show:

Agthe, M., Spörrle, M., & Maner, J. K. (2011). Does being attractive always help? Positive and negative effects of attractiveness on social decision making. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(8), 1042-1054. Read summary

Garver-Apgar, C. E., Eaton, M. A., Tybur, J. M., & Emery Thompson, M. (in press). Evidence of intralocus sexual conflict: physically and hormonally masculine individuals have more attractive brothers relative to sisters. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Wilbur, C. J., & Campbell, L. (2011). Humor in romantic contexts: Do men participate and women evaluate? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(7), 918-929. Read summary

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Special: The Kanazawa Controversy. June 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

Satoshi Kanazawa's recent blog post “Why black women are less physically attractive than other women” has ignited a firestorm of protest across the web. In this special episode, we find out if his controversial claim stands up to scrutiny.


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In this special episode I talk with biological anthropologist Mark Shriver, Nanjala Nyabola, an Oxford graduate student who wrote a comment piece for the Guardian about Kanazawa's article, and psychologists Scott Barry Kaufman and Jelte Wicherts, who blogged about the controversy here and here and also reanalysed the original data. You can read Kanazawa's blog post here.


A graph from the reanalysis of Kanazawa's data by Wicherts and Kaufman, illustrating the lack of a difference in perceived attractiveness amongst women of different ethnic backgrounds (click to enlarge).

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Limbal rings (dark rimmed eye irises) and beauty. May 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Rob 2 Comments

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? We cast a glance at the pupil, iris and white of the eye, and discover that love is far from blind. Plus we find out how a roving eye can be good for your relationship.


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Provine et al. confirmed that a reddened sclera is less attractive than whiter-than-white whites of the eye, whilst Peshek and colleagues showed that a dark limbal ring (the narrow circle at the edge of the iris) also boosts your beauty. Modified from Joanna Malinowska/freestocks.org

The articles covered in the show:

Provine, R. R., Cabrera, M., Brocato, N. W., & Krosnowski, K. A. (in press). When the whites of the eyes are red: A uniquely human cue. Ethology. Read summary

Peshek, D., Semmeknejad, N., Hoffman, D., & Foley, P. (2011). Preliminary evidence that the limbal ring influences facial attractiveness. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(2), 137-146. Read paper

DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Deckman, T., & Rouby, D. A. (2011). Forbidden fruit: inattention to attractive alternatives provokes implicit relationship reactance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(4), 621-629. Read summary

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What was Georgia O'Keeffe thinking?! April 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

How a higher pitched voice can make you sound more attractive, and suspicious. Also, war: what is it good for? We investigate the link between warfare and sex. And how do our hormones influence perceptions of art?


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Georgia O'Keeffe's "Black Iris III". Rudski showed pictures by O'Keeffe to women when they were in the fertile and non-fertile phases of their menstrual cycle. 31% of fertile women interpreted the pictures as sexual, but only 9% of non-fertile women saw the sexual double-meaning (for the record, O'Keeffe herself always denied her art had sexual connotations. She would say that, though, wouldn't she?).

The articles covered in the show:

Fraccaro, P. J., Jones, B. C., Vukovic, J., Smith, F. G., Watkins, C. D., Feinberg, D. R., et al. (2011). Experimental evidence that women speak in a higher voice pitch to men they find attractive. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 57-67. Read summary

O'Connor, J. J. M., Re, D. E., & Feinberg, D. R. (2011). Voice pitch influences perceptions of sexual infidelity. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 64-78. Read paper

Chang, L., Lu, H. J., Li, H., & Li, T. (in press). The face that launched a thousand ships: The mating-warring association in men. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read summary

Rudski, J. M., Bernstein, L. R., & Mitchell, J. E. (in press). Effects of menstrual cycle phase on ratings of implicitly erotic art. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Read summary

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Are attractive people mean? March 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

Being mean to keep ‘em keen: how sharing negative attitudes can bring you and your partner closer. We also find out whether beautiful people are friendlier, or meaner, than the rest of us, and why George Clooney is a total miser (possibly).


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There may be something to the popular belief that attractive people are mean, as new research by Price and colleagues shows.

The articles covered in the show:

Weaver, J. R., & Bosson, J. K. (in press). I feel like I know you: Shared negative attitudes of others promotes feelings of familiarity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Read summary

Price, M. E., Kang, J., Dunn, J., & Hopkins, S. (2011). Muscularity and attractiveness as predictors of human egalitarianism. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(5), 636-640. Read summary

Stirrat, M., Gumert, M., & Perrett, D. I. (2011). The effect of attractiveness on food sharing preferences in human mating markets. Evolutionary Psychology, 9(1), 79-91. Read paper

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Skin tanning, with Ian Stephen. Feb 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

Skin colour special! What’s behind the current fashion for skin tanning, and why do some people go to greater lengths to obtain a bronzed body? I speak to Dr. Ian Stephen of Nottingham University about whether a tan really does look healthy and attractive.


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Example images from Stephen's paper that got the Guardian's commenters all flustered. The face in the middle shows the natural skin colour. The faces on the left show the effect of sun tanning, while the faces on the right shows the effect of eating more carotenoids. Participants thought the carotenoid colour looked healthier.

The articles covered in the show:

Hill, S. E., & Durante, K. M. (2011). Courtship, competition, and the pursuit of attractiveness: Mating goals facilitate health-related risk taking and strategic risk suppression in women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(3), 383-394. Read summary

Stephen, I. D., Coetzee, V., & Perrett, D. I. (in press). Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

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Do our parents influence our partner preferences? Jan 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011 Rob 0 Comments

How we tell the difference between two attractive faces, how hypochondria influences your partner preferences, and Meet the Parents: why mum and dad so often disapprove of who their children bring home to dinner.


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Why do our parents so often disapprove of our romantic choices? Perilloux et al. explain all in their recent paper.

The articles covered in the show:

Perilloux, C., Fleischman, D. S., & Buss, D. M. (2011). Meet the parents: Parent-offspring convergence and divergence in mate preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 253-258. Read summary

Bailey, D. H., Durante, K. M., & Geary, D. C. (in press). Men's perception of women's attractiveness is calibrated to relative mate value and dominance of the women's partner. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary

Little, A. C., DeBruine, L. M., & Jones, B. C. (in press). Exposure to visual cues of pathogen contagion changes preferences for masculinity and symmetry in opposite-sex faces. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. Read summary

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