Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology Research

Cues of Male Dominance and Attractiveness: An Evaluation in a Field Setting

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology Research

Cues of Male Dominance and Attractiveness: An Evaluation in a Field Setting

Article excerpt

Some researchers suggest that women prefer men of high status when looking for a dating partner and romance. In a recent evaluation of long-term mate preferences, which involved several thousand participants from thirty-seven cultures, it was found that women attached great value to the social status of men (Shackelford, Schmitt & Buss, 2005). Dominance, a dimension traditionally correlated with social status, is also considered by women as an important factor in mate preference. Using correlational study, Mazur, Halpem and Udry (1994) found that dominance, measured through an evaluation of facial expressions, was a significant predictor of earlier copulation among male teenagers. Nonverbal behavior related with dominance and expressed by males has the same impact on their attractiveness to women.

Sadalla, Kenrick and Vhershure (1987) found in four experimental studies that the dominant male (a confederate in a 1-minute video expressing dominant gestures) was evaluated by female university student evaluators as more sexually attractive, and was considered to be a more desirable dating partner. Tactile contact is also a nonverbal behavior associated with dominance. Research shows that touching is often initiated by individuals of higher status toward individuals of lower status (Hall, 1996; Henley, 1973).

The role of touch as an indicator of status is supported by the literature (Major & Heslin, 1982; Summerhayes & Suchner, 1978). These experimenters asked their subjects to examine a series of still photographs portraying dyadic interactions. In half of the cases, one person was obviously touching the other. The results showed that in the touch condition, the "toucher" was evaluated as more dominant than the "touchee," whereas no difference was found between the two persons when no contact occurred. Thus, it appears that who touches whom is associated with dominance. In a recent experiment using tactile contact (Guéguen, 2007), it was found that a male who lightly touched a female in a night-club when asking her to dance, or who touched her in the street before asking her for her phone number, obtained greater compliance to his request than when no tactile contact was used. It had been also found in these experiments that the male confederate who touched the woman was perceived by her as more dominant.

If some nonverbal behavior is associated with dominance, a male's physical aspect led women to attribute to him various level of dominance. Pellegrini (1973) found that a man's beard is associated by women with greater dominance. A man's high shoulder-to-hip ratio and low waist-to-hip ratio is also associated with greater dominance, attributed by the target (Dijktra & Buunk, 2001). Havlicek, Roberts and Flegr (2005) found a preference on the part of women for the odour of dominant males.

For most of these authors, this preference on the part of women for dominant behavior, or for cues associated with dominance expressed by males, could be explained in two ways. First, by considering the evolutionary theory: women prefer men who can provide material support and protection for themselves and their children (Buss, 1989). A dominant male is more likely to demonstrate such qualities and, hence, to be perceived by women as being more attractive than a less dominant male. A second reason could explain women's preference for dominant men.

According to Sadalla et al. (1987), this preference is connected to our society's social expectations. Males are expected to act in a dominant way because data suggest that dominance hierarchies are universal in human societies (Lumbsen & Wilson, 1981), and dominance appears to be an attribute of the male role in all human cultures (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). So men who act in a role-appropriate manner by exhibiting dominant behavior should be perceived as more attractive than men who exhibit non appropriate behaviors (non dominant).

Given all these elements, these studies show that men who exhibit dominant behavior are perceived by women as being more attractive as dating partners. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.