Emotion Expressions and Mate Preferences
In this line of research, we are examining how emotion displays may function to signal information relevant to mate value, and thus increase or decrease attractiveness, accordingly. In our first project addressing this issue, we found that while happy expressions make women extremely attractive, they have the opposite effect on men, and shame displays are (surprisingly) considered fairly attractive when shown by both genders (Tracy & Beall, 2011). In follow-up work, led by Alec Beall, we are examining the mechanisms underlying the shame-attractiveness effects; thus far, it appears that this may be a unique Western cultural phenomenon. It seems that shame displays are not viewed to be particularly attractive in other cultures, and their attractiveness decreases among women who are ovulating, suggesting that they may not be attractive for biological reasons. In related research, we are using the assessment of women’s fertility (i.e., comparing women’s preferences during periods of peak fertility to those during the rest of women’s cycle) to address questions about biologically determined mate preferences.