Romantic relationship status biases memory of faces of attractive opposite-sex others: Evidence from a reverse-correlation paradigm
SourceCognition, 121, 3, (2011), pp. 422-426
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI SCP
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
Previous research has demonstrated that, presumably as a way to protect one’s current romantic relationship, individuals involved in a heterosexual romantic relationship tend to give lower attractiveness ratings to attractive opposite-sex others as compared to uninvolved individuals (i.e., the derogation effect). The present study importantly extends this research by examining whether romantic relationship status actually biases memory for the facial appearance of attractive (vs. unattractive) mates. To address this issue, we used a reverse-correlation technique (Mangini and Biederman, 2004 M.C. Mangini and I. Biederman, Making the ineffable explicit: Estimating the information employed for face classification. Cognitive Science, 28 (2004), pp. 209–226. Mangini & Biederman, 2004), originally developed to get a visual approximation of an individual’s internal representation of a target category or person. In line with the derogation effect, results demonstrated that romantically involved (vs. uninvolved) individuals indeed held a less attractive memory of a previously encountered attractive mate’s face. Interestingly, they also held a more attractive memory of an unattractive mate’s face as compared to uninvolved individuals. This latter finding may suggest that romantically involved (as compared to uninvolved) individuals differentiate opposite-sex others along the attractiveness dimension less.
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