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jones et al 2011

BC Jones, LM DeBruine, AC Little, CD Watkins & DR Feinberg. ‘Eavesdropping’ and perceived male dominance rank in humans. Animal Behaviour. 81(6): 1203-1208. pdf

Effects of social learning on mate preferences have been observed in a wide range of animal species, including humans. However, it is not known whether social learning also influences other important aspects of social perception in humans. Here we investigated whether ‘eavesdropping’, a form of social learning whereby observers extract information about individuals’ qualities by observing their interactions with others, influences men’s perceptions of the dominance of potential rivals. We found that observing the responses of other individuals modulates the perceived dominance of aggressors. Observers rated aggressors’ dominance higher when they had previously observed others responding to the aggressor in a fearful, intimidated manner than when they had observed others responding to the aggressor in an angry, aggressive manner. By contrast with this finding for rated dominance, observing identical interactions did not affect observers’ perceptions of the trustworthiness of the aggressors. The effect of observing others’ responses on the perceived dominance of aggressors demonstrates that eavesdropping influences perceptions of dominance rank among men, which would be adaptive if it reduces the costs (e.g. risk of serious injury and/or loss of resources) that may be associated with acquiring knowledge of others’ dominance rank via exclusively self-reliant learning. While previous research on social learning and sexual selection has focused on inter-sexual interactions (i.e. mate-choice copying effects), our findings suggest that eavesdropping may also influence sexual selection for male traits via intra-sexual competition.

tigue et al in review

Tigue CC, Borak DJ, O’Connor JJM, Schandl C, Feinberg DR.  Voice pitch influences voting behavior.  Evolution and Human Behavior. PDF


little et al in review

Little AC, Feinberg DR, DeBruine LM, Jones BC. Adaptation of faces and voices: within-modal, cross-modal, and sex-specific effects. Cognition.


Stuart et al In review

Stuart DS, Jones BC, Feinberg DR, Allan K A modulatory effect of male voice pitch on long-term memory in women: evidence of adaptation for mate-choice? Memory and Cognition. PDF


little et al 2011

AC Little, J Connely, DR Feinberg, BC Jones & SC Roberts (2011). Human preference for masculinity differs according to context in faces, bodies, voices, and smell. Behavioral Ecology. 22(4): 862-868.  PDF


feinberg et al in press

DR Feinberg, BC Jones, LM DeBruine, JJM O’Connor, CC Tigue & DJ Borak. Integrating fundamental and formant frequencies in women’s preferences for men’s voices. Behavioral Ecology.


Paul Fraccaro

Paul Fraccaro.

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