relationships

La nuit déjà nous fait méconnaissables

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Whereas women of all ages prefer slightly older sexual partners, men—regardless of their age—have a preference for women in their 20s. Earlier research has suggested that this difference between the sexes’ age preferences is resolved according to women’s preferences. This research has not, however, sufficiently considered that the age range of considered partners might change over the life span.

Here we investigated the age limits (youngest and oldest) of considered and actual sex partners in a population-based sample of 2,655 adults (aged 18-50 years). Over the investigated age span, women reported a narrower age range than men and women tended to prefer slightly older men. We also show that men’s age range widens as they get older: While they continue to consider sex with young women, men also consider sex with women of their own age or older.

Contrary to earlier suggestions, men’s sexual activity thus reflects also their own age range, although their potential interest in younger women is not likely converted into sexual activity. Homosexual men are more likely than heterosexual men to convert a preference for young individuals into actual sexual behavior, supporting female-choice theory.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

related { Longest ever personality study finds no correlation between measures taken at age 14 and age 77 }

photo { Joan Crawford photographed by George Hurrell, 1932 }

No one speaks English, and everything’s broken


As men are generally more short-term oriented in their sexuality than women, and given that cigarette and alcohol use are still considered masculine behaviors, we explored if female smoking and drinking can function as a short-term mating strategy. […]

The experiment showed that young men perceive women who use cigarettes and alcohol as being more sexually unrestricted. Furthermore, tobacco and (especially) alcohol use brought some short-term attractiveness benefits to women. In short-term mating contexts, drinking enhanced women’s attractiveness, whereas occasional smoking was found equally desirable as not smoking. However, in long-term mating contexts, frequent drinking and all smoking behavior harmed women’s desirability.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading }

art { Edvard Munch, Girls on the Bridge, 1902 }

Your air in my lungs

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People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest—intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat. We measured glucose levels in 107 married couples over 21 days. To measure aggressive impulses, participants stuck 0–51 pins into a voodoo doll that represented their spouse each night, depending how angry they were with their spouse. To measure aggression, participants blasted their spouse with loud noise through headphones. Participants who had lower glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo doll and blasted their spouse with louder and longer noise blasts.

{ PNAS | PDF }

art { Sergei Eisenstein. Untitled, c. 1931 }

‘Become such as you are, having learned what that is.’ –Pindar

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We use data from the 2002–2013 National Surveys of Family Growth to examine change across U.S. cohorts born between 1966 and 1995 in whether individuals have had sex with same-sex partners only, or with both men and women, and in whether they have a bisexual or gay identity. Adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, immigrant status, and mother’s education, we find increases across cohorts in the proportion of women who report a bisexual identity, who report ever having had sex with both sexes, or who report having had sex with women only. By contrast, we find no cohort trend for men; roughly 5 percent of men in every cohort have ever had sex with a man, and the proportion claiming a gay or bisexual attraction changed little. We speculate that this gender difference is rooted in a broader pattern of asymmetry in gender change in which departures from traditional gender norms are more acceptable for women than men.

{ Sociological Science | PDF }

photo { Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin }

Facial expression ambiguity in adults and children

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Marriage is a risky undertaking that people enter with incomplete information about their partner and their future life circumstances. A large literature has shown how new information gained from unforeseen but long-lasting or permanent changes in life circumstances may trigger a divorce.

We extend this literature by considering how information gained from a temporary change in life circumstances - in our case, a couple having a child with infantile colic - may affect divorce behavior. Although persistent life changes are known to induce divorce, we argue that a temporary stressful situation allows couples more quickly to discern the quality of their relationship, in some cases leading them to divorce sooner than they otherwise would have.

{ Demography | Continue reading }

Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage? Fuck your white horse and a carriage.

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Recently, experimental psychologists at Oxford University explored the function of kissing in romantic relationships.

Surprise! It’s complicated.

After conducting an online survey with 308 men and 594 women, mostly from North America and Europe, who ranged in age from 18 to 63, the researchers have concluded that kissing may help people assess potential mates and then maintain those relationships.

“The repurposing of the behavior is very efficient,” said Rafael Wlodarski, a doctoral candidate and lead author of the study, published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.

But another hypothesis about kissing — that its function is to elevate sexual arousal and ready a couple for coitus — didn’t hold up. While that might be an outcome, researchers did not find sexual arousal to be the primary driver for kissing. […]

The participants generally rated kissing in casual relationships as most important before sex, less important during sex, even less important after sex and least important “at other times.” (To clarify: researchers defined kissing as “on the lips or open-mouth (French).”)

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

with his halluxes so splendid

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Revisiting Depression Contagion […] A Speed-Dating Study.

After four minutes of interaction with partners with high levels of depressive symptoms, participants did not experience increased negative affect; instead, they experienced reduced positive affect, which led to the rejection of these partners.

{ Clinical Psychological Science | Continue reading }

Ah, but she was the queer old skeowsha anyhow, Anna Livia, trinkettoes!

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{ Apple consumption is related to better sexual quality of life in young women | PDF }

photo { Carla van de Puttelaar }

‘To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.’ —Nietzsche

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Many laboratory experiments show that people are often altruistic or care for fairness. We present data that reveal a darker side of human nature. We introduce the joy-of-destruction game. Two players each receive an endowment and simultaneously decide on how much of the other player’s endowment to destroy. Subjects play this game repeatedly. In one treatment, subjects can hide their destruction behind random destruction. In this treatment, money is destroyed in almost 40% of all decisions. We attribute this behavior to a visceral pleasure of being nasty. Under full information destruction is also observed, but rare. In this treatment, acts of destruction are followed by immediate retaliation.

{ Faculty of Economics and Management Magdeburg | PDF }

‘We may also attack simply to become aware of our own strength.’ —Nietzsche

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We found that women experience more jealousy toward women with cosmetics, and view these women as more attractive to men and more promiscuous.

{ Perception | Continue reading }

photo { Bon Jane }

It looks like this meeting is for informational purposes. Would it be possible to get a summary sent out rather than convening a meeting?

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Age and gender are two important factors that play crucial roles in the way organisms allocate their social effort. In this study, we analyse a large mobile phone dataset to explore the way life history influences human sociality and the way social networks are structured. Our results indicate that these aspects of human behaviour are strongly related to age and gender such that younger individuals have more contacts and, among them, males more than females. However, the rate of decrease in the number of contacts with age differs between males and females, such that there is a reversal in the number of contacts around the late 30s. […]

The maximum number of connections for both males and females occurs at the age of around 25. During this early phase, males appear to be more connected than females. After this, the number of alters decreases steadily for both genders, although the decrease is faster for males than for females. The different rates of decrease result in a crossover around the age of 39 such that after 39 females become more connected than males.

{ Royal Society Open Science | Continue reading }

Ode to joy

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To fall in love feels like such a personal and spontaneous process, it is strange — and a bit insulting — to suggest that we’re only copying what the novels and the movies tell us to do. However, the differences in how people have loved throughout history suggest that our style of loving is to a significant extent determined by what the prevailing environment dictates. In certain eras, we’ll swoon at the sight of the beloved’s ankle; in others, we’ll coldly put romanticism aside for the sake of dynastic or practical concerns. We learn how to love by copying a range of more or less subtle cues emitted by our culture. Or, as that brilliant observer of human foibles, François de La Rochefoucauld, wickedly put it: “There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing.”

Crucially, over the centuries, the most important factor to have shaped how we love is art. It is through novels, poems, songs and, latterly, films that we have acquired our ideas about what aspects of our feelings we should value and where our emotional emphases should fall.

This is unfortunate. […]

We may break up with our partners or feel romantically cursed because we have been systematically exposed to the wrong sorts of love stories.

{ FT | Continue reading }

In two studies, the authors examined the projection of romantic and sexual desire in opposite-sex friendships. In both studies, perceivers who strongly desired their friends projected this desire onto their friends, believing that their desire was more reciprocated than was actually the case.

{ Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin | Continue reading }