Complete Schedule

Title

Gender Differences in Cognitive Dissonance Reduction Strategies for Partner’s Attractiveness

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Keywords

Interpersonal relations; Cognitive dissonance; Sex differences;

Abstract

Physical attractiveness is an important standard for mate selection for both men and women (Langlois et al., 2000); however, men may care more about their partners’ physical attractiveness (Feingold, 1990). Not everyone can find a partner who is as attractive as they would ideally like, which may create cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) between their attitude and behavior. People can reduce the uncomfortable feelings caused by dissonance in a number of ways. I hypothesized that men would be more likely to change behaviors (e.g., searching for an alternative relationship) if they believe their partners’ physical attractiveness is important but they are reminded that they are dating less attractive partners. In contrast, women would be more likely to change attitudes (e.g., believing their partners are attractive). 282 college students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) primed to think of physical attractiveness as important, but reminded of their partner’s lower attractiveness levels; 2) primed to think of kindness as important and not reminded about their partner’s attractiveness level; or 3) primed to think about healthy foods (control condition). All participants completed measures assessing their attitudes and behaviors related to their partner. Although the physical attractiveness prime was successful, there were no differences in ratings of their partners by condition. Across all conditions, men rated physical attractiveness as more important, reported more relationship alternatives, and were less committed to their current relationship than women. It may take more than a one-hour study to induce dissonance about a relationship partner.

Start Date

4-4-2017 11:00 AM

End Date

4-4-2017 1:30 PM

Faculty Advisor

Helen Harton

Department

Department of Psychology

Comments

Location: Maucker Union Ballroom

Embargo Date

4-4-2017

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Apr 4th, 11:00 AM Apr 4th, 1:30 PM

Gender Differences in Cognitive Dissonance Reduction Strategies for Partner’s Attractiveness

Physical attractiveness is an important standard for mate selection for both men and women (Langlois et al., 2000); however, men may care more about their partners’ physical attractiveness (Feingold, 1990). Not everyone can find a partner who is as attractive as they would ideally like, which may create cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) between their attitude and behavior. People can reduce the uncomfortable feelings caused by dissonance in a number of ways. I hypothesized that men would be more likely to change behaviors (e.g., searching for an alternative relationship) if they believe their partners’ physical attractiveness is important but they are reminded that they are dating less attractive partners. In contrast, women would be more likely to change attitudes (e.g., believing their partners are attractive). 282 college students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) primed to think of physical attractiveness as important, but reminded of their partner’s lower attractiveness levels; 2) primed to think of kindness as important and not reminded about their partner’s attractiveness level; or 3) primed to think about healthy foods (control condition). All participants completed measures assessing their attitudes and behaviors related to their partner. Although the physical attractiveness prime was successful, there were no differences in ratings of their partners by condition. Across all conditions, men rated physical attractiveness as more important, reported more relationship alternatives, and were less committed to their current relationship than women. It may take more than a one-hour study to induce dissonance about a relationship partner.