Female competitor derogation has been found to involve evaluations of facial attractiveness, such that women are more likely to derogate other women when they are most fertile (Fisher 2004). However, the ultimate purpose of this derogation remains unknown. In this article, we explore the possibility that women's derogations of rivals will influence potential mates, such that derogatory comments cause men to lower their attractiveness judgments of the rivals. Moreover, given that attractive women should be more preferred as mates by men, we investigate how a woman's facial attractiveness can affect her ability to influence men's perceptions. Our results indicate that the type of statements one makes significantly influences ratings of attractiveness, and that derogations by an attractive woman are more effective in their ability to influence men's evaluations of female facial attractiveness than are derogations by an unattractive woman. These effects do not hold for women, who are not significantly swayed by the attractiveness of the derogator. Several directions for future research are presented.
Although there exists a plethora of studies on the determinants and consequences of facial attractiveness, there exists little research on how within-individual evaluations of facial attractiveness are impacted by knowledge of a person's sexual history and the duration of the relationship they seek. Using a pre-post design, participants rated individual faces for attractiveness, and then re-evaluated the faces accompanied by a fictitious online dating advertisement, manipulated for the models’ sexual history and desired relationship duration. We found that women, more than men, were impacted by this knowledge and that desired relationship duration influences the direction of change while sexual history influences the significance of the effect. One week later, participants were presented with the same faces and asked to recall the prior information. Participants recalled more information for sexual history than for desired relationship duration with an overall mean accuracy of 64.4%. These findings are discussed using the conceptual framework offered by evolutionary psychology, particularly mate selection theory.
In a series of two studies, we explored people's selection of self-promotion or competitor derogation when intrasexually competing for mates, as influenced by sex and romantic relationship involvement. In Study 1, student participants completed a forced-choice survey outlining six hypothetical competitive tactics. The findings indicated that self-promotion was chosen more often than competitor derogation, regardless of sex and current relationship involvement. In Study 2, we relied upon a community sample that completed a continuous measure that expanded upon the survey of Study 1. We found that women reported significantly more self-promotion than men, and men reported significantly more competitor derogation. Individuals who were romantically uninvolved and those who were dating reported higher levels of self-promotion and competitor derogation than those who were married or in a common-law relationship. Social desirability impacted on competitor derogation but not self-promotion. In contrast, self-ratings of physical attractiveness significantly positively correlated with both strategies. We discuss these findings using the conceptual framework of indirect aggression and intrasexual competition.