Adaptive attentional attunement: evidence for mating-related perceptual bias

Jon K. Maner, Matthew T. Gailliot, C. Nathan DeWall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Substantial evidence suggests that physical attractiveness plays an important role in shaping overt mating preferences, judgments, and choices. Relatively few studies, however, have investigated the hypothesis that perceivers are attuned to signs of attractiveness at early, lower-order stages of social perception. In the current research, a visual cueing task was used to assess biases in attentional disengagement-the extent to which people's attention becomes "stuck" on particular social stimuli. Findings indicate that, consistent with some evolutionary theories, perceivers of both sexes exhibited attentional attunement to attractive women, but not attractive men. Additional findings suggest that this bias was pronounced in sexually unrestricted men and in women who felt insecure about a current romantic relationship. This research provides novel evidence for adaptive, lower-order perceptual attunements in the domain of human mating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Attention
  • Mating
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Sex differences
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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