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UI study investigates variability in men's recall of sexual cues
Date:10/25/2010

Even if a woman is perfectly clear in expressing sexual interest or rejection, young men vary in their ability to remember the cues, a new University of Iowa study shows.

Overall, college-age men were quite good at recalling whether their female peers in this case, represented through photos showed interest. Their memories were especially sharp if the model happened to be good looking, dressed more provocatively, and conveyed interest through an inviting expression or posture.

But as researchers examined variations in sexual-cue recall, they found two noteworthy correlations: men with a history of more frequent serious relationships did a better job remembering the cues, while men who scored higher on a sexual aggression survey performed worse.

"Tracking and remembering a partner's emotions may play a role in the initiation and maintenance of a serious romantic relationship," said lead author Teresa Treat, a psychologist in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "Likewise, misremembering a woman's level of sexual interest could prompt some men to make unwanted sexual advances and become frustrated when a woman doesn't respond as anticipated."

Published this month in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, the study by Treat and colleagues at Indiana University involved 232 men with an average age of 19. The men viewed full-body photos of models who varied in attractiveness, attire and whether they were expressing interest. A short time later, the men were presented with the previously viewed photos, along with new photos of the same women communicating the opposite cue. They were asked which exact photos they'd seen before.

Researchers relied on extensive rating data from undergraduate men and women to determine level of attractiveness, provocativeness of dress, and whether each model's body language indicated sexual interest or rejection for example, a "come hither" gaze versus a scowl. The men c
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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa - Health Science
Source:Eurekalert

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