The bio-social influences over women's mate choice copying

Ord, Mark (2017) The bio-social influences over women's mate choice copying. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Background: Females assess the quality of potential mates based on the expression and presence of evolved cues and signals. Recent evidence shows that social information gained by observing the mate choices of same-sex peers can also influence mating decisions of females, i.e. mate choice copying (MCC). In humans, much of the MCC literature has focused on confirming the expression of this behaviour in women. Whilst findings are mixed, most research concludes that women do engage in MCC. Recent years have seen a shift away from confirming MCC in humans towards understanding how MCC alters the perception of traits possessed by males.

Aims: This thesis sought to expand upon this research arc in three novel ways. First, it examines the interaction between known biological modulators of mate choice and MCC. Second, it explores the interaction between participant individual differences and MCC. Third, it investigates how MCC influences the perception of traits that are likely to increase the probability that a given male is selected as a mate.

Method: Facial photographs of attractive and unattractive men were presented to participants in one of three conditions: i) men alone, without an accompanying image of a woman, and described as romantically single; ii) men presented alongside an attractive woman and described as her romantic partner; and iii) men presented alongside an unattractive woman and described as her romantic partner. Participants rated the photographs of men on questions specifically related to the three aims of this thesis.

Results: Age and hormonal fluctuations associated with ovulation did not significantly alter MCC behaviour. There were no significant differences in MCC between younger and older participants, or between women at high or low fertility. Men who benefitted from MCC were perceived as significantly more faithful potential partners and were perceived as easier to acquire mates than men not benefiting from MCC. However, when participant individual differences (e.g. socio-sexual orientation, self-perceived mating success, self-esteem, big 5 personality factors and the dark triad factors) were factored into the analysis, MCC effects disappeared.

Conclusion: Overall, MCC failed to replicate in 6 out of 7 experimental chapters contained within this thesis. This lack of replication occurs for both the novel, never before tested questions, but also for questions commonly asked and replicated in wider MCC literature. Replication failure raises questions about the context in which MCC occur. I call for a meta-analysis of existent data to clarify effect size, heterogeneity, and possible publication bias.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 14:15
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:47

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