Overall, college-age men were quite good at recalling whether their female peers – in this case, represented through photos – showed interest. Their memories were especially sharp if the model happened to be good looking, dressed more provocatively, and conveyed interest through an inviting expression or posture.
But as researchers examined variations in sexual-cue recall, they found two noteworthy correlations: men with a history of more frequent serious relationships did a better job remembering the cues, while men who scored higher on a sexual aggression survey performed worse.
"Tracking and remembering a partner's emotions may play a role in the initiation and maintenance of a serious romantic relationship," said lead author Teresa Treat, a psychologist in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "Likewise, misremembering a woman's level of sexual interest could prompt some men to make unwanted sexual advances and become frustrated when a woman doesn't respond as anticipated."
Published this month in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, the study by Treat and colleagues at Indiana University involved 232 men with an average age of 19. The men viewed full-body photos of models who varied in attractiveness, attire and whether they were expressing interest. A short time later, the men were presented with the previously viewed photos, along with new photos of the same women communicating the opposite cue. They were asked which exact photos they'd seen before.
Researchers relied on extensive rating data from undergraduate men and women to determine level of attractiveness, provocativeness of dress, and whether each model's body language indicated sexual interest or rejection – for example, a "come hither" gaze versus a scowl. The men completed surveys about their relationship history and the level to which they endorsed sexually aggressive attitudes.
It's important to note, Treat says, that misremembering a woman's cue is not an excuse for an unwanted advance. Department of Justice statistics show that nearly one in four women experience an attempted or completed rape in college, and the goal of this type of research is to develop better prevention strategies.
"Finding that risk for sexual aggression is associated with processing patterns in no way minimizes the responsibility of potential perpetrators to attend to potential victims' interest levels and consent cues," she said. "But if we can better understand how women's cues might be misinterpreted, we'll be better able to address the difficulties of some young men that can result in such negative consequences."
While the study suggests that there may be a link between memory for women's sexual interest and both positive and negative sexual experiences, the long-term significance of the findings depends on whether memory proves to play a causal role in the experiences, and whether the link remains when the cues of sexual interest are presented in a more lifelike manner. It's also important to remember that numerous factors other than memory for a partner's emotions can affect young adults' sexual experiences.
"In this study, the information young men had about the women was restricted to a photo," Treat said. "In the real world, they'd be able to see how the woman responds. We'll need to see whether similar patterns emerge when men receive more information on women, perhaps through video or audio, or in structured interactions."
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Brown | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy