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The Threatening Scent Of Fertile Women


Phanta
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I am putting this New York times article, The Threatening Scent of Fertile Women--reviewing a study that explored the ways single vs. committed men respond to the subtle signs a female is in her fertile period-- in this section because of this bit:

 

One safe way for both men and women to stay in a relationship is to avoid even looking at tempting alternatives, and there seem to be subtle mental mechanisms to stop the wandering eye, as Dr. Maner and colleagues at Florida State found in an experiment testing people’s “attentional adhesion.”

 

The men and women in the experiment, after being primed with quick flashes of words like “lust” and “kiss,” were shown a series of photographs and other images. The single men and women in the study couldn’t help staring at photographs of good-looking people of the opposite sex — their gaze would linger on these hot prospects even when they were supposed to be looking at a new image popping up elsewhere on the screen.

 

But the people who were already in relationships reacted differently. They looked away more quickly from the attractive faces. The subliminal priming with words related to sex apparently activated some unconscious protective mechanism: Tempt me not! I see nothing! I see nothing!

 

This is good news for fans of fidelity, but there’s one caveat from a subsequent study by Dr. Maner along with C. Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky and others. This time, the researchers subtly made it difficult to pay attention to the attractive faces. Both men and women responded by trying harder to look at the forbidden fruit. Afterward, they expressed less satisfaction with their partners and more interest in infidelity.

 

The lesson here seems to be that too much “mate-guarding” can get in the way of “relationship maintenance.”

 

This makes me wonder if the same is true for other cultural groups. For instance, polyamorous groups or--even more interesting-- muslims who cover their women from head to toe to prevent temptation and sin. Does it make those women all the more appealing?

 

I would love to see this same study done on an orthodox Muslim group.

 

Phanta

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A very interesting article, Phanta, I am very curious if the same sort of cycle occurs amongst lesbians and gay men. I hope they continue their research.

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