Beauty, dominance, and the mating game: Contrast effects in self-assessment reflect gender differences in mate selection

Sara E. Gutierres, Douglas T. Kenrick, Jenifer J. Partch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

118 Scopus citations


An experimental study examined the effects of exposure to physically attractive and dominant same-sex individuals on self-assessments. Consistent with prior findings on mate selection, it was predicted that women's self-assessments of their mate value would be adversely affected by exposure to highly physically attractive women and would be relatively unaffected by exposure to socially dominant women. Conversely, men's self-assessments of their mate value were expected to be more affected by the social dominance than by the physical attractiveness of the men to whom they were exposed. Findings for self-assessed judgments of desirability as a marriage partner were in line with hypotheses. Results fit with earlier findings suggesting that such effects may be caused by changes in the perceived population of competitors rather than direct changes in self-perceptions of physical appearance or dominance. Overall, findings are supportive of models assuming domain-specific rather than domain-general cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1126-1134
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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