Sexual imagery

Dutton and Aron found that men who were approached by a woman on the suspension bridge told stories with the highest sexual imagery of all the experimental groups. These men were also more likely to call the assistant, regardless of sex, but the female research assistant got the most calls. Dutton and Aron tried to eliminate the confounding variable of self selection, e. g. only single; more testosterone laden males would go on the higher bridge. They did this by only using the higher suspension bridge.

Either the male or female approached people: – Several minutes after they get off the bridge – In the middle of the bridge E valuation: Kenrick & Cialdini suggested that the presence of others may calm us down. The men in the bridge studies may have liked the “stunning” young woman because they associated her with a reduction in fear or anxiety. They saw the woman as someone else in their predicament of being on the bridge so there was less fear to feel. Although the woman/man could have caused more fear in the participants because they were keeping them there, on the bridge, longer than necessary. Their experiment relied upon ‘Thematic Apperception’ (not everybody agrees that interpreting a picture really gives insight into someone’s unconscious desires).

There were ethical problems (invasion of privacy, deception, lack of informed consent… ). There were alternative explanations (single, testosterone laden males were more likely to venture up to the high bridge etc… ). The experiment takes no account of the possibility that some of the men involved were gay. Kenrick and Cialdini (1977) White, Fishbein and Rutstein (1981) White et al. (1981) In 1977, Kenrick and Cialdini criticized Dutton and Aron’s experiment and reported four failures to replicate the study, one exact replication and three with minor variations.

Their criticism was that people could not misattribute negative arousal (the scary bridge) for positive arousal, which was the attractive woman (Kenrick & Cialdini, 1977). On the other hand, an experiment done by White, Fishbein, and Rutstein (1981) on passionate love and the misattribution of arousal confirmed Dutton and Aron’s findings. In this experiment, White and his colleagues had male participants listen to tapes that were either positive (comedy tape) or negative (mutilation tape), while other subjects heard a non-arousing tape (textbook excerpt).

After listening to the tapes, the participants were exposed to either attractive female confederates or unattractive female confederates. The results for this experiment showed that the men who listened to the arousing tapes (both positive and negative) reported liking the attractive confederates more and the unattractive confederates less than the men who listened to the non-arousing tapes (White et al. 1981). These findings suggest that positive and negative arousal can both be misattributed as positive arousal (White et al. 1981).

There is lots of interesting scientific theory, which all backs each other up and supports to idea of the high physiological arousal on misinterpretation of physical attraction. As you can see from above there is lots of evidence from different sources. But this whole area of research is flawed. Purely because all of the studies are andocentric – they are all testing the responses of men. Surely if men do this then women do it as well? All the studies say that males interpret a high physiological state of arousal as physical attractiveness. I am going to test this out in females.

To see if females will misinterpret the high physiological arousal in the same way. I aim to find out if females aged 16 and over are affected by physiological arousal when rating a randomly selected group of males, aged 18 to 25. These pictures were all put on the website to be rated, therefore I was able to use them without getting written consent, as I am using them for their original purpose. By getting two groups to rate the pictures at separate times, I am cancelling out any confounding variables as the pictures are only being rated against themselves rather than against each other.

The data was analysed for average statistical significance difference using a sign test. This was chosen because the study was looking for a difference in attractiveness ratings given before and after exercise. The data are related as they represent repeat ratings for the same pictures, and the data are non numerical as they come from a subjective rating scale. Any difference was to be considered at statistical significance is there was less than 5% possibility of the results occurring by accident (P=<0. 05)

So the NULL hypothesis that is “When females, aged 16 and above, are asked to rate pictures of males for physical attractiveness, on a likert scale of one to ten (ten being the most attractive), there will be no significant difference between ratings when in a state of higher rather than a lower physiological arousal brought about by 30 minutes of physical exercise. Any difference is due to chance” is accepted and the experimental hypothesis is rejected. My results from the statistical sign test show that the results gained from the experiment are not significant therefore I must accept my null hypothesis which states that:

“When females, aged 16 and above, are asked to rate pictures of males for physical attractiveness, on a likert scale of one to ten (ten being the most attractive), there will be no significant difference between ratings when in a state of higher rather than a lower physiological arousal brought about by 30 minutes of physical exercise. Any difference is due to chance. ” The data shows that there are many reasons for why some of the results have gone up, some have gone down and some are the same. It could be a number of things.

All of the past research studies are andocentric, done on men, my rationale for doing this study was to see if the same rules applied to females. The data I collected show that this is not so. There are a number of reasons why this could have been; perhaps females look for something other than physical attractiveness. The study that I performed was most valid. This is because is used a simple likert scale rather than complicated Thematic Apperception Tests. The TAT’s cannot be analysed very easily as you have to search for different sexual contents, which could be different for different people. A simple likert scale is easily analysed.

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David from Healtheappointments:

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