Mating Interest Improves Women's Accuracy in Judging Male Sexual Orientation

  • Rule N
  • Rosen K
  • Slepian M
 et al. 
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People can accurately infer others’ traits and group memberships across several domains.We examined heterosexual women’s accuracy in judging male sexual orientation across the fertility cycle (Study 1) and found that women’s accuracy was significantly greater the nearer they were to peak ovulation. In contrast, women’s accuracy was not related to their fertility when they judged the sexual orientations of other women (Study 2). Increased sexual interest brought about by the increased likelihood of conception near ovulation may therefore influence women’s sensitivity to male sexual orientation. To test this hypothesis, we manipulated women’s interest in mating using an unobtrusive priming task (Study 3). Women primed with romantic thoughts showed significantly greater accuracy in their categorizations of male sexual orientation (but not female sexual orientation) compared with women who were not primed.The accuracy of judgments of male sexual orientation therefore appears to be influenced by both natural variations in female perceivers’ fertility and experimentally manipulated cognitive frames.

Author-supplied keywords

  • sexual orientation
  • social perception

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  • Nicholas O. Rule

  • Katherine S. Rosen

  • Michael L. Slepian

  • Nalini Ambady

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