Watkins CD, Quist M, Smith FG, DeBruine LM & Jones BC (2011). Individual differences in women's perceptions of other women's dominance. Evolutionary and Biological Approaches to Behaviour Research Group in University of Abertay, Dundee. May 2011.

Recent research on men’s dominance perception (Watkins et al., 2010 Behavioral Ecology; Watkins et al., 2010 Personality & Individual Differences) suggests that low-dominance men are more likely to attribute high dominance to men displaying masculine facial and vocal characteristics than high-dominance men are, potentially because low-dominance individuals will incur greater costs if they underestimate the dominance of masculine rivals. In the current studies, we investigated the relationship between indices of women’s own dominance and their perceptions of other women’s facial dominance. Women’s own height and scores on a dominance questionnaire were negatively correlated with the extent to which they attributed dominance to women displaying masculine facial characteristics. In follow-up studies, we observed similar individual differences when (1) women separately judged other women’s social and physical dominance, suggesting individual differences in women’s dominance perceptions generalize across two different types of dominance judgment, and (2) we assessed the perceivers’ dominance indirectly using a questionnaire that measures the extent to which women view interactions with other women in competitive terms. These findings present new evidence that low-dominance individuals are more likely to attribute dominance to other women displaying masculine characteristics than are high-dominance individuals and suggest that competition and conflict among women may have shaped systematic variation in women’s dominance perception.

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