relationships

‘I want to tell young women that sex is OK.’ –Sasha Grey

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In an earlier experimental study by Zillman and Bryant (1988) male and female students were exposed to pornography once a week for six weeks. Those who viewed pornography reported being less satisfied with their partner’s appearance and sexual behavior. They also found that men who consumed pornography were more dominating and less attentive toward their partners. Hence, there is some reason to anticipate that pornography consumption impairs relationship commitment.

Other research suggests that pornography may be beneficial to relationships in some ways, especially in sexual relations. Some evidence suggests that consuming pornography influences individuals’ positive attitude toward sexuality and serves as a safe platform through which to en- gage in sexual exploration. […]

Using a variety of methods, we demonstrated that pornography consumption is associated with weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner. […] in Study 5 we examined a more extreme implication of the weakened commitment—infidelity. We found that pornography consumption corresponded to decreased commitment, which, in turn related to higher levels of infidelity.

{ Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology | PDF }

The Kreutzer Sonata

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“Withdrawal is the most problematic for relationships,” Sanford said. “It’s a defensive tactic that people use when they feel they are being attacked, and there’s a direct association between withdrawal and lower satisfaction overall with the relationship.”

Meanwhile, “passive immobility” — expecting your partner to be a mind-reader — is a tactic people use when they feel anxious in a relationship, and it makes it especially difficult for couples to make progress toward resolving conflicts. But it may not be as harmful down the line as withdrawal, he said.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

art { Mel Ramos, Elephant Seal, 1970 }

The Ravens. The Five Satins. The Delphonics. The Cadillacs. The Crests. The Del Rays.

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Machiavellianism is a personality trait characterized by a manipulative interpersonal style, emotional detachment and suspicion of others. Individuals with high levels of Machiavellianism navigate through their social relationships with  protective self-monitoring, external orientated thinking and confidence in their ability to deceive which facilitates their willingness to exploit others for their own self-serving goal. Not surprisingly, research has found that Machiavellianism relates to lower quality friendships in adulthood, including relational aggression in online relationships. […]

Previous research has established the importance of parental bonding (i.e.,  parental care and overprotection) for the development of personality traits and adult relationships. The current study investigated the influence of recalled parenting on the development of Machiavellianism and adult friendship quality. […] Path modeling suggests that decreased maternal care and increased paternal overprotection relate to Machiavellianism which is associated with lower adult friendship quality.

{ Individual Differences Research | Continue reading }

Which losses do we impose on some to benefit others?

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The NSA’s inspector general last year detailed 12 cases of “intentional misuse” of intelligence authorities from 2003 to 2013 […] Those cases included a member of a U.S. military intelligence unit who violated policy by obtaining the communications of his wife, who was stationed in another country. After a military proceeding, the violator was punished by a reduction in rank, 45 days of extra duty and forfeiture of half of his pay for two months, according to the letter. In a 2003 case, a civilian employee ordered intelligence collection “of the telephone number of his foreign-national girlfriend without an authorized purpose for approximately one month” to determine whether she was being faithful to him, according to the letter. The employee retired before an investigation could be completed.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

photo { Olivia Locher, Lucifer Rising, 2014 }

‘Comme je me sens vieux. Comme je me sens peu fait pour l’être. Jamais je ne vais savoir être vieux.’ –Georges Bernanos

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“Find your sugar baby,” the site exhorted its users.

This year, Paul Aronson, an 84-year-old from Manhattan, contacted a 17-year-old girl, Shaina Foster, through the site and took her out to dinner. On a second date, Ms. Foster brought along her twin sister, Shalaine.

For a few hours on Oct. 1, the evening looked as if it might turn into an old man’s fantasy. The three dined at an expensive restaurant in Midtown. Then Mr. Aronson invited the teenagers to have a drink with him at the four-story brick townhouse he owns on East 38th Street.

He bought a bottle of raspberry-flavored rum from a liquor store on the way, a defense lawyer said. But instead of receiving caresses or whispered flirtations, Mr. Aronson ended up tied to a coffee table for 20 hours. […]

Prosecutors say the two girls bound him with zip ties, took $470 in cash from his wallet and went on a spending spree with his credit cards, buying makeup and clothes. […]

Before he was tied up, Mr. Aronson had given the teenagers a tour of his townhouse and let them play with his tiny dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Muffins, Mr. Kennedy said. Then he poured them glasses of rum and asked them about their sex lives. […]

“He asked to do things I wasn’t going to do,” she told Detective Darryl Ng at the 17th Precinct after the girls were arrested on Oct. 21. “He is ugly, old and disgusting. I tied him up. I took his money and left. He was starting to creep me out.”

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Just boob it

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In a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing. […] The influence of red appears to be specific to women’s romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men’s perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women’s perceptions of men’s overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion.

{ APA PsycNet | Continue reading }

‘Ce sceptre de Vénus, que tu vois sous tes yeux, Eugénie, est le premier agent des plaisirs en amour : on le nomme membre par excellence ; il n’est pas une seule partie du corps humain dans lequel il ne s’introduise.’ –Sade

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Based on a survey of heterosexual female college students in committed relationships, how often women experienced orgasm as a result of sexual intercourse was related to their partner’s family income, his self-confidence, and how attractive he was. […]

We also identified an ensemble of partner psychological traits (motivation, intelligence, focus, and determination) that predicted how often women initiated sexual intercourse. Their partner’s sense of humor not only predicted his self-confidence and family income, but it also predicted women’s propensity to initiate sex, how often they had sex, and it enhanced their orgasm frequency in comparison with other partners.

{ Evolution Psychology | PDF }

photo { William Eggleston }

related { Guy Ends Up In Hospital After Getting Girlfriend’s Strap-On Stuck Up His Bum }

‘Your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.’ –Iago (Othello, Act I, Scene i)

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In species where females mate with multiple males, the sperm from these males must compete to fertilise available ova. Sexual selection from sperm competition is expected to favor opposing adaptations in males that function either in the avoidance of sperm competition (by guarding females from rival males) or in the engagement in sperm competition (by increased expenditure on the ejaculate). […]

We found that men who performed fewer mate guarding behaviors produced higher quality ejaculates, having a greater concentration of sperm, a higher percentage of motile sperm and sperm that swam faster and less erratically.

{ PLoS | Continue reading }

related { Britain’s sperm shortage - and the man who helps two women a month | via gettingsome }

Whether we’ve ever been in love?

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People can make remarkably accurate judgments about others in a variety of situations after just a brief exposure to their behavior. Ambady and Rosenthal (1992) referred to this brief observation as a “thin slice.” For example, students could accurately predict personality traits of an instructor after watching a 30-s video clip […] a 2-s look at a picture of a face was enough to accurately determine a violent or nonviolent past. Other research has demonstrated the predictive accuracy of short observations regarding social status, psychopathy, and socioeconomic status. […]

The data indicate that this ability to predict outcomes from brief observations is more intuitive than deliberatively cognitive, leading scholars to believe that the ability to accurately predict is “hard-wired and occur[s] relatively automatically.” […]

The viability of using brief observations of behavior (thin slicing) to identify infidelity in romantic relationships was examined. […] In Study 1, raters were able to accurately identify people who were cheating on their romantic dating partner after viewing a short 3- to 4-min video of the couple interacting.

{ Personal Relationships | Continue reading }

related { Thin-Slicing Divorce: Thirty Seconds 
of Information Predict Changes in Psychological Adjustment Over 90 Days | PDF }

Teach not thy lips such scorn

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Selecting an appropriate mate is arguably one of the most important decisions that any sexually reproducing animal must make in order to ensure the successful propagation of their genes. […]

It has been proposed that kissing, a near-ubiquitous custom among human cultures, may play a significant role in the process of human mate assessment and relationship maintenance. Kissing might aid mate appraisal in humans by facilitating olfactory assessment of various cues for genetic compatibility, health, genetic fitness, or even menstrual cycle phase and fertility. […]

Recent research into kissing behavior among college students has found interesting differences between men and women in their perceptions of the importance of kissing during various courtship and mating situations. Using self-report measures, it was found that men generally placed less emphasis on kissing than women, and that women placed greater value on kissing during both the early stages of courtship, potentially as a mate assessment device, and in the later stages of a long-term relationship, possibly to maintain and monitor the pair-bonds that underlie such relationships. […]

The aim of the present experiment was to determine whether romantic kissing-related information can affect the process of human mate assessment. It was hypothesized that participants led to believe that a potential mating partner is a “good kisser,” a manifest cue potentially signaling a mate’s underlying genetic quality/suitability, will find them more attractive, will be more willing to pursue further courtship (i.e., a date) with them, will be more interested in pursuing non-committal sex with them, and be more willing to consider pursuing a long-term relationship with them. It was further hypothesized that alleged kissing abilities will have a greater influence on female partner preferences than on male partner preferences, as they have been found to be the more selective sex when it comes to utilizing signals of mate fitness. […]

The primary finding of this study is that purported kissing abilities can influence a potential mate’s attractiveness and general desirability, particularly for women in casual sex situations. […] Although the findings presented here corroborate the notion that kissing serves a functional role in mating situations, we can still only speculate at this point as to the mechanisms by which kissing might carry out these functions. It is likely that kissing works to affect initial mate assessment by bringing two individuals into close proximity so as to facilitate some kind of olfactory/gustatory assessment, since olfaction in most mammals, as well as in humans, can play an important role in assessing potential mates. In established relationships, on the other hand, the contact and physiological arousal initiated by continued romantic kissing is likely to also affect feelings of attachment between individuals over time, influencing the release of neuropeptides (including oxytocin and vasopressin), dopamine, and opioids, which have all been variously associated with human pair-bonding.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

watercolor on paper { Brad Phillips }

‘Retenez ceci : il n’y a de bon, de vrai, de gai, de triste, d’aimable, de variable, de désirable, de potable, de chantable, de célébrable, d’idolâtrable, que le delta qui existe depuis la ceinture d’une femme jusqu’à ses jarretières.’ –George Sand & Alfred de Musset

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Pham and Schackelford (2013) argued that men with more attractive partners are at a greater recurrent risk of sperm competition because other men are more likely to woo them into having affairs. Therefore, men with more attractive partners have more reason to be concerned about and more likely to engage in behaviour aimed to detect infidelity. The idea that cunnilingus, oral sex performed on a woman, could function to detect infidelity was proposed in a 2006 book, but this study is the first to test this empirically. The idea is that oral sex may allow a man to detect the presence of another man’s semen through smell or taste. […]

As side-note I’d like to point out that there is a common misconception often advanced by its critics that evolutionary psychology assumes that everything that people do is somehow an evolutionary adaptation and that evolutionary psychologists cannot or will not acknowledge that some behaviours are simply by-products of other adaptations with no special function of their own. This is a gross misrepresentation of what evolutionary psychology is about and in fairness to the authors of the study they were attempting to actually test whether or not their hypothesis about the adaptive function of oral sex is valid, rather than just assuming it is. It is quite possible that oral sex has no evolutionary function in itself. Humans are a highly sexed species compared to most mammals and engage in many non-procreative sexual acts, perhaps for pleasure alone. Oral sex might simply be a by-product of this interest in sex that humans have. However, if it can be shown that this particular behaviour appears to serve a definite purpose that has an evolutionary history, a reasonable case can be made that it has an adaptive function. […]

They found that “recurrent risk of sperm competition” (attractiveness) predicted interest in performing oral sex independently of relationship length, relationship satisfaction, and duration of intercourse.

{ Psychology Today | Continue reading }

‘A bad beginning makes a bad ending.’ –Euripides

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In social psychology, revenge is defined as a behavioural reaction toward perceived injustice that aims at re-establishing a (personal) sense of justice by “getting even” and giving wrongdoers what they deserve. The question I will address in this presentation is, what exactly does “getting even” mean? By addressing this question, I will adopt a “social functionalist” perspective on revenge: This perspective highlights the notion that revenge is a goal-driven response that has certain functional aspects, both on the intrapersonal and on the interpersonal level.

The “social functionalist” perspective implies that revenge is not the mindless, animalistic impulse that legal scholars and some philosophers sometimes tend to see in it. Revenge has oftentimes been contrasted with law-based retribution by arguing that revenge was irrational, savage, unlimited, unprincipled, and disproportionate, and that the “emotionality” inherent in vengeful reactions overshadowed any rational response.

Psychologically, the idea that emotions are irrational is neither useful nor correct. On the contrary, emotions are functional, adaptive, and ecologically rational in that they direct the organism’s attention to important aspects of a situation, and they prepare the organism to respond to problems that arise in social interactions. For example, empirical studies show that anger involves a shift of blood away from the internal organs towards the hands and arms, and it increases one’s sensitivity toward potential injustices and the moral implications of other people’s actions. Of course, anger can also trigger disproportionate retaliatory behaviours, but this does not mean it is inherently “irrational.”

Most behavioural systems that the human organism is equipped with are “irrational” in that they may be incompatible with logical, deductive reasoning and a stringent cost-benefit analysis of gains, risks, and losses, but they are nevertheless functional in that they enable us to deal with complex problems and to make useful decisions under uncertainty.

Revenge belongs to the human behavioural system just as communication, competition, or helping does; and just as these systems, it has important societal and individual functions.

{ Individual and social functions of revenge | PDF }

This article investigates whether acts of displaced revenge, that is, revenge targeted at a different person than the original transgressor, can be satisfying for the avenger. We assume that displaced revenge can lead to justice-related satisfaction when the group to which the original transgressor and the displaced target belong is highly entitative.

Two experimental online studies show that displaced revenge leads to less regret or more satisfaction when the transgressor and the displaced target belong to a group that is perceived as highly entitative.

Study 3 shows that avengers experience more satisfaction when members of the transgressor group were manipulated to be both strongly interconnected and similar in their appearance.

Results of an internal meta-analysis furthermore corroborate the notion that displaced revenge leads to more satisfaction when the transgressor group is highly entitative.

Taken together, our findings suggest that even displaced revenge can achieve a sense of justice in the eyes of avengers.

{ ScienceDirect | Continue reading }