Accuracy and oversexualization in cross-sex mind-reading: An adaptationist approachEvolutionary Psychology 7(2): 331-347
This research focuses on mating-relevant judgments within an evolutionary framework. Using a methodology that employs personal ads as stimuli, the current study tested predictions from Error Management Theory (Haselton and Buss, 2000) suggesting that males will oversexualize females’ desires, showing a tendency to think women are more interested in unrestricted sexual encounters than is warranted. This work further tested whether women’s judgments represent an oversexualization of males’ desires, which may reflect the adaptive bias of commitment skepticism. This work also tested whether overall accuracy in these judgments was sex-differentiated. 481 young male and female heterosexual adults judged which personal ads (written by opposite-sex individuals) were most desirable as short and long-term mates. All participants then engaged in a cross-sex mind-reading task by guessing which ads were most strongly endorsed by opposite-sex individuals. Males were more accurate than females in guessing long-term desires; females were more accurate than males in guessing short-term desires. Male oversexualization of females’ desires was not pronounced in these data. However, female oversexualization of males’ was quite pronounced for both short and long-term judgments. Discussion addresses how the sexes may be tuned into different strategic mating cues in the domain of cross-sex mind-reading in addition to how oversexualization of opposite-sex judgments may serve discrete adaptive functions across the sexes.
cross-sex mind-reading; Error Management Theory; mating psychology; mating intelligence; social-perceptual bias