The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

I am hot! No, you’re not: an investigation of the complex relationship between self-perception of mate value and the assignation of mate value by others


Anthropology, California State University, Bakersfield

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Sexual selection, particularly in humans, involves a highly complex array of factors. The perception of physical attractiveness is one such area. Previous research has focused on such issues as hormones as contributors to perceived mate value (Miller et al. 2007), as well as duration of mating as a determinant for assessing physical attractiveness (Confer et al. 2010). One particular area of interest that has only recently been given much attention is that of self-perceived mate value. Specifically, such research investigates how self-perceived mate value affects the perception of mate value in others (Bailey et al. 2011).

Our research investigates whether male and female self-perceived mate value provides an accurate assessment of the average actual mate value assigned by others, both same-sex and of the opposite sex among 250 young adult volunteers of three ethnic groups. Self-perceived mate value was determined by employing a Self-Perceived Mating Success scale. Actual mate value was determined by administering the same scale to those evaluating participants after evaluating themselves. Photographs of males and females were the media for evaluation by participants. The results not only demonstrate the disparities and similarities between self-perceived value and those values assigned by others, but also illustrate the use of value perception as a measure of evaluation for potential mates, as well as potential competitors. Such findings reveal that perceptions of physical attractiveness are themselves complex phenomena that encompass a constellation of factors both explicit and tacit that comprise yet another level of the complex process behind human sexual selection.

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