Relationship status affects attractiveness judgements of potential short-term and long-term mates and rivals (#111)
Same-sex and opposite-sex judgements of attractiveness probably serve different adaptive functions. From a reproductive perspective, opposite sex judgements influence mate choice, while same-sex judgements assess the quality of potential rivals. In the current study we asked participants to make attractiveness judgements of potential mates and potential rivals for either a long-term or a short-term relationship. We also recorded participants' own relationship status. Male and female pictures were manipulated for sexual dimorphism, symmetry, clothing, hair-style, make-up (females only) and facial hair (males only). Generally speaking, the results showed that coupled males give higher attractiveness ratings of female faces for potential short-term, rather than long-term relationships, but are also more discerning when making judgements for the short-term. Single males exhibited the opposite patterns: higher ratings and more discerning judgements for potential long-term, compared to short-term partners. For females, the inverse of these patterns were true: coupled females rated other females as more attractive if they were presented as competitors for a long-term mate, while single females rated other females as more attractive of they were presented as competitors for a short-term mate. With respect to male faces, both coupled men and women tended to provide higher/more discerning ratings for short-term prospects and rivals, while single men and women provided higher/more discerning ratings for long-term prospects and rivals. These results suggest that attractiveness judgements of potential mates and rivals reflect current mate-choice motives, as well as general preferences.