Saturday, October 5, 2019

When evaluating faces as potential romantic partners, participants’ preferences focused in attractiveness even when task instructions imply that warmth or status should be of primary importance

From 2018... Facial and self-report questionnaire measures capture different aspects of romantic partner preferences. Jennifer Kay South Palomares and Andrew William Young. British journal of psychology, September 30 2018

Abstract: Romantic relationship researchers often use self‐report measures of partner preferences based on verbal questionnaires. These questionnaires show that partner preferences involve an evaluation in terms of underlying factors of vitality–attractiveness, status‐resources, and warmth–trustworthiness. However, when people first encounter a potential partner, they can usually derive a wealth of impressions from their face, and little is known about the relationship between verbal self‐reports and impressions derived from faces. We conducted four studies investigating potential parallels and differences between facial impressions and verbal self‐reports. Study 1 showed that when evaluating highly variable everyday face images in a context that does not require considering them as potential partners, participants can reliably perceive the traits and factors that are related to partner preferences. However, despite being capable of these nuanced evaluations, Study 2 found that when asked to evaluate images of faces as potential romantic partners, participants’ preferences become dominated by attractiveness‐related concerns. Study 3 confirmed this dominance of facial attractiveness using morphed face‐like images. Study 4 showed that attractiveness dominates partner preferences for faces even when task instructions imply that warmth–trustworthiness or status–resources should be of primary importance. In contrast to verbal questionnaire measures of partner preferences, evaluations of faces focus heavily on attractiveness, whereas questionnaire self‐reports tend on average to prioritize warmth–trustworthiness over attractiveness. Evaluations of faces and verbal self‐report measures therefore capture different aspects of partner preferences.

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