Dominance and Heterosexual Attraction

Edward K. Sadalla, Douglas Kenrick, Beth Vershure

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Abstract

Four experiments examined the relation between behavioral expressions of dominance and the heterosexual attractiveness of males and females. Predictions concerning the relation between dominance and heterosexual attraction were derived from a consideration of sex role norms and from the comparative biological literature. All four experiments indicated an interaction between dominance and sex of target. Dominance behavior increased the attractiveness of males, but had no effect on the attractiveness of females. The third study indicated that the effect did not depend on the sex of the rater or on the sex of those with whom the dominant target interacted. The fourth study showed that the effect was specific to dominance as an independent variable and did not occur for related constructs (aggressive or domineering). This study also found that manipulated dominance enhanced only a male's sexual attractiveness and not his general likability. The results were discussed in terms of potential biological and cultural causal mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-738
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume52
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1987

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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