Monday, October 4, 2021

People-Centered Intelligences Are Psychometrically Distinct from Thing-Centered Intelligences

Are People-Centered Intelligences Psychometrically Distinct from Thing-Centered Intelligences? A Meta-Analysis. Victoria M. Bryan and John D. Mayer. Journal of Intelligence 9: 48, Sep 30 2021.

Abstract: The Cattell–Horn–Carroll (CHC) or three-stratum model of intelligence envisions human intelligence as a hierarchy. General intelligence (g) is situated at the top, under which are a group of broad intelligences such as verbal, visuospatial processing, and quantitative knowledge that pertain to more specific areas of reasoning. Some broad intelligences are people-centered, including personal, emotional, and social intelligences; others concern reasoning about things more generally, such as visuospatial and quantitative knowledge. In the present research, we conducted a metaanalysis of 87 studies, including 2322 effect sizes, to examine the average correlation between people-to-people intelligences relative to the average correlation between people-to-thing-centered intelligences (and similar comparisons). Results clearly support the psychometric distinction between people-centered and thing-centered mental abilities. Coupled with evidence for incremental predictions from people-centered intelligences, our findings provide a secure foundation for continued research focused on people-centered mental abilities.

Keywords: people-centered intelligences; broad intelligences; meta-analysis; socio-emotional abilities

Monkey Plays Pac-Man with Compositional Strategies and Hierarchical Decision-making

Monkey Plays Pac-Man with Compositional Strategies and Hierarchical Decision-making. Qianli Yang, Zhongqiao Lin, Wenyi Zhang, Jianshu Li, Xiyuan Chen, Jiaqi Zhang, Tianming Yang. bioRxiv Oct 4 2021.

Abstract: Humans can often handle daunting tasks with ease by developing a set of strategies to reduce decision making into simpler problems. The ability to use heuristic strategies demands an advanced level of intelligence and has not been demonstrated in animals. Here, we trained macaque monkeys to play the classic video game Pac-Man. The monkeys' decision-making may be described with a strategy-based hierarchical decision-making model with over 90% accuracy. The model reveals that the monkeys adopted the take-the-best heuristic by using one dominating strategy for their decision-making at a time and formed compound strategies by assembling the basis strategies to handle particular game situations. With the model, the computationally complex but fully quantifiable Pac-Man behavior paradigm provides a new approach to understanding animals' advanced cognition.

Men reported more likelihood of transmitting negative gossip than women, contrary to widespread perception that women are more indirectly aggressive; among adults, indirect aggression decreases with age, perhaps because older individuals have less need to compete for resources

Competitive gossip: the impact of domain, resource value, resource scarcity and coalitions. Nicole H. Hess and Edward H. Hagen. Royal Society Open Science, Volume 376, Issue 1838, October 4 2021.

Abstract: Those with better reputations often obtain more resources than those with poorer reputations. Consequently, gossip might be an evolved strategy to compete for valuable and scarce material and social resources. Influenced by models of non-human primate competition, we test the hypotheses that gossip: (i) targets aspects of reputation relevant to the domain in which the competition is occurring, (ii) increases when contested resources are more valuable, and (iii) increases when resources are scarcer. We then test hypotheses derived from informational warfare theory, which proposes that coalitions strategically collect, analyse and disseminate gossip. Specifically, we test whether: (iv) coalitions deter negative gossip, and (v) whether they increase expectations of reputational harm to competitors. Using experimental methods in a Mechanical Turk sample (n = 600), and survey and ego network analysis methods in a sample of California sorority women (n = 74), we found that gossip content is specific to the context of the competition; that more valuable and scarcer resources cause gossip, particularly negative gossip, to intensify; and that allies deter negative gossip and increase expectations of reputational harm to an adversary. These results support social competition theories of gossip.

How People Become Attractive to Prospective Mates: Strategies of Self-Promotion in the Greek Cultural Context

How People Become Attractive to Prospective Mates: Strategies of Self-Promotion in the Greek Cultural Context. Menelaos Apostolou, Yan Wang, Athina Gavriilidou. Evolutionary Psychology, October 4, 2021.

Abstract: An important aspect of human mating is to appeal to prospective mates. Accordingly, the current research attempted to identify the strategies that people use in order to become more attractive as prospective intimate partners. More specifically, using open-ended questionnaires in a sample of 326 Greek-speaking participants, we identified 87 acts that people performed in order to become more attractive as mates. By using quantitative research methods in a sample of 2,197 Greek-speaking participants, we classified these acts into 16 different strategies. We found that, enhancing one's looks and becoming more pleasant, were among the most preferred strategies. Women were more likely than men to adopt strategies that involved looks, while men were more likely than women to adopt strategies that involved resource acquisition capacity. Moreover, age effects were found for most strategies. The identified strategies were classified into two broader domains, one aiming to develop and demonstrate fitness-increasing qualities, and the other to deceive about fitness-impairing traits.

Keywords: self-promotion strategies, mating strategies, mating, attraction

By using a combination of qualitative research methods, we identified 87 acts that people were likely to perform in order to become more attractive as mates. Using quantitative research methods, we classified these acts in 16 different strategies. Among the most likely to be used ones, were to enhance one's looks and to become more pleasant. Women were more likely than men to adopt strategies which involved looks, while men were more likely than women to adopt strategies which involved demonstrating resource acquisition capacity. Moreover, age effects were found for most strategies. The identified strategies were classified into two broader domains, one aiming to develop and demonstrate fitness-increasing qualities, and the other to deceive about fitness-impairing traits.

As it was originally predicted, factors which indicated desirable character traits emerged, namely “Become more pleasant” and “Self-improvement.” About 80% of the participants indicated that they would try to look more pleasant, and about 57% that they would try to improve themselves, especially their character. Research on mate preferences indicates that, being kind and understanding, are highly valued in prospective partners (Buss, 2016); thus, we expected that a factor reflecting people's effort to appear more kind would emerge, but this was not the case. One possible explanation is that such effort was captured in other strategies. In particular, people indicated that they would do volunteer work, which classified under the “Increase intellectual capacity” factor. Furthermore, people who score low in kindness may try to keep it hidden (see O'Sullivan, 2008), which is captured by the “Keep undesirable traits hidden” factor. Future research could extend the current study by asking people to rate specifically if, in order to become more attractive to prospective mates, they would attempt to demonstrate kindness and understanding.

Moving on, also consistent with our original prediction, factors that reflected resource provision capacity emerged, namely “Increase social status,” “Spend money on someone I am interested in,” and “Showing off and exaggerating wealth.” Resource provision capacity was also captured in the “Increase intellectual capacity” and the “Show off abilities and talents” strategies, as intelligence, talents, and abilities predict this capacity. People indicated an increased willingness to use these strategies; for instance, about 54% of the participants indicated that they would be likely to demonstrate their abilities and talents, and more than half of the participants indicated that they would spend money on someone they were interested in. Yet, the “Showing off and exaggerating wealth” was not a preferred strategy, as only 5% of the participants indicated that they would use it.

In accordance to our original prediction, strategies emerged that relate to good looks, namely “Enhance looks,” “Lose weight,” “Drastic appearance changes,” and “Enhance social media profile.” The “Enhance looks” strategy was the most preferred one, with more than 84% of the participants indicating that they were likely to adopt it. Similarly, in order to become more attractive as mates, nearly 55% of the participants indicated that they would try to lose weight, and more than one in five that they would enhance their social media profile. These findings suggest that, in order to become more attractive as partners, people predominantly resorted to strategies aimed to enhance their looks. This conclusion is not surprising, given that looks summarize information about traits with high fitness value, including health, genetic quality and reproductive capacity. In addition, looks, as opposed to other traits, such as resource provision capacity, can be assessed in a few seconds, so in screening for desirable mates, it would be efficient for mate-seekers to start from looks, and if these satisfy them, to proceed in assessing other traits. This being the case, it would not be effective if people paid attention to demonstrating other qualities ignoring their looks, because prospective mates would not bother to assess them if looks did not appeal to them.

As we originally predicted, the “Develop similar interests” strategy, where people become more attractive to prospective mates by showing them that they are similar to them, emerged. Here, individuals would adopt hobbies and habits of prospective partners, they would show agreement with them, and they would show interest in what interests them. This strategy seems to involve deception, as people would engage for instance, in specific activities in order to be liked by prospective partners, and not necessarily because they were genuinely interested in such activities. Yet, this strategy did not classify under the deception domain, suggesting that people were genuinely interested in becoming more similar to prospective partners, and not to deceive them that they were similar. This strategy was also popular, with more than 40% of the participants indicating a willingness to use it.

We did not predict the emergence of the “Do more risky, physically demanding and unusual things” strategy. One interpretation of this strategy is that, it enables people to signal their capacities in a reliable manner. For instance, only people who have good physical capacities would risk doing physically demanding things. Thus, such actions may reliably signal to prospective mates that individuals have good physical qualities (see Zahavi and Zahavi, 1997Miller, 2000).

Consistent with our original prediction, the extracted strategies classified into two broader domains, namely a domain where people would attempt to develop and demonstrate desirable qualities, and another domain where they would deceive about undesirable traits. Thus, in the former domain, people would attempt to increase and demonstrate their resources generating capacity by receiving more education, getting a job promotion and spending money on a prospective partner, while in the second domain, they would attempt to exaggerate their wealth and present their financial situation better than it actually is. Similarly, in the former domain people would attempt to improve their character and they would demonstrate that they have good personality traits, such as pleasantness, while in the second domain they would attempt to hide character and behavioral flaws, such as a psychological problem. In the former domain, people would enhance their appearance by looking after their body, improve their clothing and losing some weight, while in the second domain, they would deceive about their physical qualities by drastically altering their body through artificial means, such as a plastic surgery and liposuction.

Men value looks in an intimate partner more than women (Buss et al., 2001Thomas et al., 2020). Accordingly, women were more willing than men to use strategies for enhancing their looks. In particular, they indicated a higher willingness to improve their appearance by looking after their skin, hair, by wearing clothes that flattered them and by losing weight. On the other hand, women value resource acquisition potential in a prospective partner more than men (Buss, 2016Thomas et al., 2020). Accordingly, men were more likely to attempt to develop and demonstrate resource acquisition capacity, by buying gifts for someone they were interested in, and by increasing their social status. They gave also higher mean scores in showing off abilities and talents, and in demonstrating and exaggerating wealth; these differences approached but did not pass however the significance level. Previous research has also identified similar sex differences (Schmitt & Buss, 1996). The current research, by identifying the structure of self-promotion strategies, has more accurately identified the strategies in which the sexes diverge or converge. Moreover, the significance and the magnitude of these differences is contingent to the cultural context of the study (Bendixen & Kennair, 2015). Thus, future research could employ the identified factor structure, in order to examine how sex differences vary across different cultural contexts.

Age predicted most strategies. As indicated by the effect size, the largest effect was over the “Enhance looks” strategy, with younger participants indicating a higher willingness to use it than older ones. One possible explanation is that, as people get older, their looks deteriorate, so this is not their strongest selling point in the mating market; accordingly, they divert their limited resources in displaying other qualities, which have a positive association with age. Consistent with this interpretation, we found that older participants indicated a stronger willingness to show off wealth and social status. We also found that, younger participants were more willing to attempt to enhance their social media profile than older participants. One explanation is that, older generations may be less familiar with social media, and less likely to use them than younger generations (see Correa et al., 2010). In addition, older participants indicated that they were more likely to attempt to lose some weight in order to become more attractive to prospective mates. One reason is that, as people get older, metabolism changes and it is easier to get extra weight (Pontzer et al., 2021), which turns losing weight a strategy more likely to be used by older participants.

In most cases, sexual orientation did not predict the use of the identified strategies, suggesting that individuals of different orientations employ similar strategies in order to become more attractive as mates. However, our results need to be considered preliminary, because although our sample was large, it was not large enough to include many participants in all sexual orientation categories. Accordingly, the lack of significant effects may partially be due to our study not having sufficient power. Moving on, we asked participants to indicate their willingness to use self-promotion strategies assuming that they were single. We aimed to assess the general willingness to use such strategies; thus, if we did not do so, most participants who were in a relationship or married would indicate a low willingness to use self-promotion strategies, as they had already secured a mate. Consequently, the way the study was designed, explains why marital status did not emerge as a statistically significant predictor of self-promotion mating strategies.

Our research was designed to advance earlier work on self-promotion strategies, so it would be fruitful to compare our findings with past findings. More specifically, Schmitt and Buss (1996) came up with 31 such strategies, while our study extracted almost half this number. This difference is due to our use of dimension reduction techniques, which can provide a more accurate identification of the underlying factor structure. Furthermore, these techniques revealed an even broader two-domain structure. In addition, there were considerable similarities in the strategies identified by Schmitt and Buss (1996) and the ones we identified here, which were consistent with the evolutionary theoretical framework. Yet, there were also differences. One such difference was that Schmitt and Buss (1996) found several strategies including “Act Kind,” “Act Sensitive,” and “Act Helpful,” which demonstrate personality traits, such as kindness and understanding, but such strategies did not emerge here. One possible explanation is that this difference reflects a cultural difference. Another explanation is that Schmitt and Buss (1996) study investigated the acts that people do in order to become more attractive along with the acts that people do in order to attract prospective mates. The two are very similar but not completely overlapping. This difference can also explain why the strategies “Invoke Love,” “Make Proposition,” “Use Alcohol,” “Have Sex,” “Become Friends,” “Communicate Often,” and “Display Sexual Exclusivity” identified by Schmitt and Buss (1996) did not emerge here.

Furthermore, the “Enhance social media profile” strategy did not emerge in Schmitt and Buss (1996), as social media such as the Facebook, did not exist at that time. Similarly, the “Develop similar interests,” “Self-improvement,” and the “Keep undesirable traits hidden” did not emerge in Schmitt and Buss (1996) study. One possibility is that the current study employed a larger and more diverse sample than the Schmitt and Buss (1996) study, which means that the latter may have missed the acts that give rise to these factors. It could also be the case that these acts were identified, but these factors did not emerge because dimension reduction techniques were not used.

Environmental factors may affect the identified self-promotion strategies. For instance, the “Enhance social media profile” strategy would be less likely to be used in a cultural context where social media use is not widespread, than in a cultural context where most people have a social media profile. In addition, in pre-industrial societies parents have a considerable influence in determining their children's spouses, through the institution of arranged marriage (Apostolou, 20072010). Thus, in these societies, people would direct their self-promotion strategies toward parents, adjusting them to become more attractive as prospective in-laws. Furthermore, environmental factors may affect the fitness-contributions of specific traits. For instance, the resource provision capacity of a prospective partner would be more fitness-increasing in a context where resources are scarce and the social support system is limited, than in a context where resources are more abundant and the social support system is highly developed. This being the case, people would be more likely to employ strategies that demonstrate their resource provision capacity in the former than in the latter context. Accordingly, we expect considerable cross-cultural variation in the self-promotion strategies, mandating future cross-cultural research in the area.

One limitation of the current work is that it employed self-report instruments, so there was no way for us to confirm the honesty of participants’ answers. Moreover, our research was based on non-probability samples, so its findings do not readily generalize to the population. Also, in order to take the survey, the respondent should had access to a computer or a smartphone. By recruiting over social media, there is the possibility that individuals of lower socio-economic status who may not have access to devices to use social media, were underrepresented. It is also possible that, those who were more involved in social media and therefore, were more likely to see the survey, differed from the general population with respect to self-promotion strategies. Furthermore, it appears that single people were overrepresented in our sample. One possible explanation is that, single people have a stronger motivation to attract partners, so they may be more interested in the topic of the study.

Moving on, in Study 1, participants were asked to indicate not only the acts that they had performed in the past, but also the acts that were likely to use in the future. We did so in order to construct a more inclusive list of acts that people would perform; however, by asking respondents to predict future actions, our list may have included acts that would rarely or never be employed. Moreover, participants responded hypothetically, so in actual situations, they may use different strategies than the ones they have indicated here. Furthermore, people may use different strategies for becoming attractive to casual and different strategies for becoming attractive to long-term mates (Schmitt & Buss, 1996); yet, in the current study, we did not distinguish between the two. In addition, in the current study we did not examine the effectiveness of the identified strategies, something that future studies need to do. In addition, there are several factors, such as personality, that predict the adoption of such strategies, which were not examined in the present study. Furthermore, the current research was confined to the Greek cultural context, and its findings may not readily apply to other cultural settings.

An important aspect of mating is to appeal to prospective mates. In the present study, we have identified a plethora of acts that people use in order to become more attractive as mates, and we have classified them in broader strategies. Nevertheless, in the light of the limitations of the current research, and the complexity of the phenomenon, much more work is required if self-promotion strategies are to be understood.

Disease avoidance trade-offs: People who are more interested in seeking new romantic partners (e.g., young men) may be less inclined to socially distance and be more at risk of pathogen transmission

Disease Avoidance Motives Trade-Off Against Social Motives, Especially Mate-Seeking, to Predict Social Distancing: Evidence From the COVID-19 Pandemic. Pelin Gul et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, October 3, 2021.

Abstract: A range of studies have sought to understand why people’s compliance with social distancing varied during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent theory suggests that pathogen avoidance behavior is based not only on perceived risk but on a trade-off between the perceived costs of pathogen exposure and the perceived benefits of social contact. We hypothesized that compliance with social distancing may therefore be explained by a trade-off between pathogen avoidance and various social motives such as mate-seeking. Two studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that social distancing was positively associated with disease avoidance motives but negatively associated with social motives, especially mating motives. These associations remained after controlling for predictors identified by previous research, including risk perception and personality. Findings indicate that people who are more interested in seeking new romantic partners (e.g., young men) may be less inclined to socially distance and be more at risk of pathogen transmission.

Keywords: COVID-19, infectious disease prevention, social distancing, mate-seeking, disease avoidance

We hypothesized that adherence to social distancing and hygiene behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic is the result of a trade-off between motives to avoid infection and social motives. As expected, disease avoidance motives were positively associated, and mating motives negatively associated, with adherence to social distancing and hygiene behavior in two studies. However, other social motives, namely group affiliation and concerns about social exclusion, were not associated with social distancing or hygiene behavior. Moreover, after conducting regression analysis to control for a range of individual differences (e.g., personality and general risk perception), disease avoidance motives were the only consistent positive predictor, and mating motives were the only significant negative predictor, of social distancing. Overall, these findings suggest that mating motives are the most important of the social motives we measured in shaping social distancing behavior.

Mating motives and disease avoidance motives vary across sex and age (Ko et al., 2019). We therefore also explored whether the trade-off between these motives could be related to findings that men and young people adhere less with social distancing. We explored our hypothesis regarding age differences in both studies. But, due to small sample size of men in Study 1, we could explore our hypothesis regarding gender differences only in Study 2. Regarding age differences, indirect effects analyses in Study 1 revealed that only disease avoidance motives was associated with younger (vs. older) peoples’ compliance with social distancing, whereas in Study 2, consistent with our trade-off suggestion, younger peoples’ lower compliance with social distancing was associated with both their lower disease avoidance motives and their higher mate-seeking motives. The nonsignificant indirect effect via mating motives (SOI) in Study 1 could be due to the sample being predominantly women, who on average have lower desire for casual sex than men. Regarding sex differences, Study 2 similarly showed that men’s (vs. women’s) social distancing was associated with their lower disease avoidance and higher mate-seeking motives. Despite the sample size limitation in Study 1, these findings support the hypothesis that the trade-off between disease avoidance and mate-seeking shapes social distancing behavior, which can in turn shape demographic patterns of adherence with social distancing rules.

Following hygiene guidelines is not subject to the disease avoidance and mating trade-off to the same extent as social distancing because, compared to social distancing (e.g., staying at home) hygiene (e.g. hand washing) interferes less with social contact. This may explain why, in Study 2, adherence with social distancing was associated with mate-seeking motives but not with hygiene practices in the regression analyses. In both studies, affiliation motives were not as strongly associated with social distancing as mating motives were. One possible reason is that compared to mating, nonromantic socializing may be more easily satisfied while socially distancing via, for example, social media and virtual meeting platforms.

One limitation is that the two measures of mating motives we employed were not equally predictive across Studies 1 and 2. In Study 1, regression analysis revealed that socio-sexuality (SOI) was the only significant negative predictor of social distancing, whereas in Study 2, the Mate-Seeking Scale from FSMI was the only significant negative predictor. It could be that cultural or linguistic differences might explain this discrepancy, but future research would be needed to see if the discrepancy replicates with other samples. Regardless, in both studies, both mate-seeking motives and SOI negatively correlated with social distancing, and in both studies, one of these two mating motive measures was the only significant negative predictor after controlling for multiple other individual difference variables in regression analyses.

Our findings have important theoretical implications. It is well-documented that some individuals are more “disgust sensitive” than others—experiencing a stronger emotional response to pathogen cues (Haidt et al., 1994; Tybur et al., 2009). This emotional response has been theorized to motivate avoidance of certain objects and people heuristically associated with disease (Curtis et al., 2004; Faulkner et al., 2004; Shook et al., 2019). The present research emphasizes that avoidance behavior can be better explained when competing motives are also taken into account. Recent perspectives on the functioning of the human behavioral immune system (Tybur & Lieberman, 2016) and human fundamental social motives (Kenrick et al., 2010) have emphasized that pathogen avoidance motives and behavior are the outcome of a trade-off between the costs of pathogen exposure and the costs of avoiding pathogen exposure. Our findings extend these accounts by emphasizing the importance of mating motives in the trade-off with pathogen avoidance and by showing that the trade-off can explain social distancing behavior in addition to other outputs such as affective responses (Case et al., 2006) and discomfort with physical contact (Tybur et al., 2020).

Our findings also have implications for the design of policies and interventions to promote social distancing adherence. People who are more interested in seeking romantic partners (e.g., young men) may find it harder to follow social distancing rules and be more likely to spread pathogens. Our research may inform policy makers to increase commitment to help specific groups of people (e.g. young people) to manage competing motives to comply with infectious disease prevention behaviors. One avenue could be to develop public health campaigns to encourage people to fulfill their mating motives while maintaining social distancing, for example, by using virtual romantic or sexual interactions (see, e.g., British Columbia Center for Disease Control, n.d.; Dutch National Institute for Health and Environment, n.d.). In sum, we hope that our research will help to inform policy makers and the general public to address competing motives between adhering between infectious disease prevention behaviors and affiliative motives. Eventually, this may help to establish cultural and social practices whereby infectious diseases can be kept at a safe distance while at the same time helping people to remain intimately close.

Time Use and Happiness: Compared to 1985, domestic work and social care produce more happiness today; watching TV produces less happiness today than it used to; women’s time-weighted happiness has improved significantly relative to men’s

Han, Jeehoon, and Caspar Kaiser. 2021. “Time Use and Happiness: Evidence Across Three Decades.” SocArXiv. October 3.

Abstract: We use large-scale diary data from a representative sample of Americans to proxy welfare at the level of individual activities. We make three contributions. First, we examine the association between individual activities and happiness, and show how this association has changed over time. Compared to 1985, domestic work and social care produce more happiness today. Watching TV produces less happiness today than it used to. Second, we combine activity-level data on happiness and time allocation to construct a measure of ‘time-weighted happiness’. We then analyse historical trends in this measure across population groups, particularly gender. We observe that, over the last 35 years, women’s time-weighted happiness has improved significantly relative to men’s. This trend is largely driven by gendered shifts in time allocation, rather than heterogenous trends in the enjoyability of individual activities. Our result is in stark contrast to previous work which showed a decline in women’s relative wellbeing. To explain this, our third contribution is to compare the determinants of life satisfaction – a global measure on which most previous work is built – with our measure of time-weighted happiness. Time-weighted happiness and life satisfaction turn out to only be weakly correlated. Moreover, although we obtain strong associations of income and employment status with life satisfaction, no such associations can be observed for time-weighted happiness. These findings highlight the importance of distinguishing between happiness as experienced in time and more global wellbeing measures. Finally, we verify the robustness our results by replicating them in data from the United Kingdom and show that our results are robust to alternative assumptions about how people use happiness scales.

Women collectively condemn other women who appear to be sexually permissive; they believed that “provocatively” dressed women are more likely to have one-night stands, even when these women were not direct sexual rivals

Coordinated condemnation in women's intrasexual competition. Jessica D. Ayers, Aaron T. Goetz. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 185, February 2022, 111294.


• Potentially sexually permissive women are negatively judged across traits (Study 1).

• Negative mating judgments “leak” into non-mating-related judgments (Study 1)

• Controlling for mating judgments reduces negative non-mating judgments (Study 1).

• Women mentally represent other women's judgments of permissive rivals (Study 2).

Abstract: Here, we identify a novel reason why women are often criticized and condemned for (allegedly) sexually permissive behavior due to their choice of clothing. Combining principles from coordinated condemnation and sexual economics theory, we developed a model of competition that helps explain this behavior. We hypothesized that women collectively condemn other women who appear to be sexually permissive (based on their choice of clothing). Study 1 (N = 712) demonstrated that women perceived a rival with visible cleavage more negatively. These perceptions were ultimately driven by the belief that “provocatively” dressed women are more likely to have one-night stands. Study 2 (N = 341) demonstrated that women criticized provocatively dressed women, even when these women were not direct sexual rivals (e.g., her boyfriend's sister). Our findings suggest that future research should investigate competition outside of mating-relevant domains to understand women's intrasexual competition fully.

Keywords: Intrasexual competitionCoordinated condemnationCompetitor derogationPromiscuity

7. General discussion

These studies aimed to investigate coordinated condemnation in women's competition. In Study 1, we hypothesized that participants shown a target with visible cleavage would perceive the target more negatively even in domains unrelated to physical attractiveness and mating. In Study 2, we hypothesized that women would rate potentially sexually permissiveness targets more negatively regardless of if she was a direct sexual rival. We also asked participants to report how they believed other women and men would perceive the target.

Study 1 documented that women who saw the target with cleavage perceived her more negatively than participants who saw the target with a superimposed modesty panel. Further, after controlling for perceptions of the target's likelihood of having one-night stands, the other associations were no longer significant. This suggests that the negative perceptions of the target with visible cleavage were driven by perceptions that she would lower the collective “cost” of sexual access by acting sexually permissive.

In Study 2, we found that women reported more favorable perceptions of potentially permissive targets than they believed other women and men would regardless of if the target was a direct threat to their romantic relationships. Additionally, when reporting the perceptions of other women and men, participants reported that other women would view the target more negatively than men would. While these results do not support our original hypothesis, they suggest that women mentally represent the judgments of others, allowing for coordinated condemnation of undesirable behavior.

Our results from these studies provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that women coordinate to condemn potentially sexually permissive women. Our results also indicate that women seem to be aware of and motivated to maintain their bargaining power in relationships (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004Vohs et al., 2014) by punishing others who appear to be sexually permissive. This awareness, in turn, motivates women to use third-party condemnation (DeScioli and Kurzban, 2009DeScioli and Kurzban, 2013) to aggress without the threat of direct retaliation. Our results also corroborate previous research showing that women are aware that their clothing choices make them the targets of competition (Krems et al., 2020) and suggests that women are aware of how other women perceive rivals (Wacker et al., 2017), allowing women to coordinate their indirect aggression at these individuals. Our results also add nuance to theories of women's intrasexual competition. Women's intrasexual competition is often described as covert and indirect (Campbell, 1999Fisher, 2013Vaillancourt, 2005), but our results document that there may be instances where women's competitive motivations are more overt than previously thought (i.e., when coordinating aggression against a sexually permissive rival).

Research has also outlined a paradox in women's interpersonal relationships. Women's friendships are more likely to be dyadic (David-Barrett et al., 2015Winstead, 1986), suggesting that women invest their time and energy in a single friend instead of many friends. But women's friendships are also more fragile and less tolerant to issues within the relationship (Benenson, 2013Benenson et al., 2009Benenson & Christakos, 2003), suggesting that women's friendships are also more likely to end. Part of this paradox may be attributable to the fact that women's friendships balance cooperative and competitive influences. While women may want to foster emotionally deep bonds with their friends (Wright, 1982), women's indirect aggression and intolerance of slights in their friendships might be caused by coordinated condemnation. Investigating the influences of coordinated condemnation in women's friendships may help researchers understand how conflict in women's friendships manifests and document how women coordinate their aggression with their friends against other potential rivals.

7.1. Limitations and future directions

Our current results support the hypothesis that women represent how other women view rivals. Still, our results did not show that women use these representations to coordinate their aggression. Behavioral observations, such as Vaillancourt and Sharma's (2011), would allow for a more accurate assessment of the use of these representations to aggress against potentially permissive rivals. Additionally, coordinated aggression may bolster research on women's abilities to assess competitors' motivations in interpersonal contexts (Krems, Neel, Neuberg, Puts, & Kenrick, 2016Krems, Neuberg, Filip-Crawford, & Kenrick, 2015).

Another limitation is that women's perceptions of the target may reflect self-presentation biases. As women's competition is indirect (Benenson, 2013Campbell, 2013Vaillancourt, 2013), it is possible that the positive perceptions women reported reflect their motivation to remain anonymous (Campbell, 1999) so they cannot be accused of aggressing against competitors (Fisher, 2013Vaillancourt, 2005). As such, it is likely that beliefs about other women's perceptions indirectly reflect women's actual competitive motivations (Perilloux & Kurzban, 2015).

Another limitation concerns the target images used in Study 2. We chose target images that had visible tattoos, piercings, and provocative clothing, as these characteristics are believed to be cues of sexual permissiveness (Goetz et al., 2012Krems et al., 2020Skoda et al., 2020Tews et al., 2020). However, it is possible that these images were overwhelming, unbelievable, or presented a demand characteristic. While our results suggest that these confounds did not meaningfully affect our results in the current study, it is also possible that some confounds attenuated the effects of others and led to the appearance of no confounding effect. Unfortunately, since we did not have conservative versions of these stimuli, we cannot tease these possibilities apart in our current data. Future studies could improve upon these limitations by 1) presenting fewer target images with more subtle cues of sexual permissiveness, 2) including control images of provocative images, and 3) focusing on specific cues to sexual permissiveness to document if these cues influence coordinated condemnation.

Another limitation that should be mentioned is the exclusion criteria used in both studies. While the exclusion criteria were determined before data collection for Study 1 began, and were subsequently refined before data collection for Study 2 began, these criteria did result in many participants being excluded from the current analyses (33% in Study 1 and 34% in Study 2). We do not believe that this is an issue for the current study, but it does limit the generalizability of our results. For example, we do not know if we would have found the same effects in a sample that was less honest or paid less attention. We also do not know how differences in women's sexual orientation or gender identity may influence these results, as these groups are often excluded from studies on women's competition. Future research on women's intrasexual competition, and coordinated condemnation in general, would benefit from including these groups to better understand women's competition.

Finally, these experiments are not perfect tests of coordinated condemnation due to the self-report nature of these studies. In addition, there may be additional individual factors, such as age, socioeconomic status, and education level (Campbell, 1999), that influence the saliency and intensity of women's intrasexual competition. As women's competition occurs across the lifespan (Linney, Korologou-Linden, & Campbell, 2016Low, 2017), domain- and age-specific effects on competition should exist. For example, as women's fundamental social motives become more family-oriented (Ko et al., 2020), women may be less likely to coordinate against sexually permissive women and instead coordinate against women who are perceived as bad mothers. We could not test for the attenuation of this effect and changing motivations in menopausal women (using Gottschalk, Eskild, Hofvind, Gran, & Bjelland, 2020) as there were not enough women in our sample for age-effects to be appropriately powered (5.7% were 52 years or older in Study 1; 1.2% were 52 years or older in Study 2).

Future research would benefit from actively recruiting older women to test for attenuation effects of coordinated condemnation. Similarly, while we asked our participants about their romantic relationships, we did not ask participants how long they had been in a romantic relationship. It would be fruitful for future research to address how romantic relationships influence women's competition and coordinated condemnation, as women in newer, more temporary, or more unstable relationships may respond more competitively to potential relationship threats and direct more aggression towards women who display cues of permissiveness.