Little AC, Burriss RP, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Feinberg DR & Caldwell CC (2008). Copying and contrast in human mate preference. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Kyoto University, Japan. June 2008.

Humans extract information from the environment that might influence their mate preferences. In nonhuman animals studies demonstrate that females tend to copy the choices of other females for specific males. We present data, for both men and women, that pairing with an attractive partner increases the attractiveness of opposite-sex faces for long-term relationship decisions demonstrating the social transmission of face preference in humans. Alongside copying, humans may also be influenced by their perception of the availability of high quality partners. Consistent with this, we show that exposure to attractive faces decreases the attractiveness of subsequently seen faces of the same-sex and that presentation alongside attractive same-sex faces also decreases the attractiveness of target faces. Both results suggest that individuals take into account information about alternative potential mates. Our studies overall demonstrate that mate preference is influenced by visible cues in the environment and highlight the flexibility of human mate choice.

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