How the Presence of Others Affects Desirability Judgments in Heterosexual and Homosexual Participants

  • John E. ScofieldEmail author
  • Bogdan Kostic
  • Erin M. Buchanan
Original Paper


Mate-choice copying is a mating strategy wherein women rely on contextual information to assist in securing accurate assessments of potential mates. Mate-choice copying has been extensively studied in non-human species and has begun to be examined in humans as well. Hill and Buss (2008) found evidence of opposing effects for men and women in desirability judgments based on the presence of other opposite-sex people. The current study successfully replicated these findings with 73 and 44 heterosexual men and women, respectively. Heterosexual men exhibited the desirability diminution effect, and heterosexual women exhibited the desirability enhancement effect. The current study also extended these findings to include 73 gay men and 32 lesbian women. Findings for gay and lesbian participants were inverted compared to heterosexual participants. Gay men exhibited the desirability enhancement effect, and lesbian women exhibited the desirability diminution effect, revealing sex differences in mate-choice copying spanning different sexual orientations.


Desirability judgments Mate-choice copying Sexual orientation 



This project was in partial fulfillment of the thesis requirements for a Master of Science in Experimental Psychology at Missouri State University. Funding for this project was provided by the Graduate College at Missouri State University. We would like to thank Sarah E. Hill for sharing experimental materials.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. This study was approved by Missouri State University’s Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study, and all data upon analysis were completely anonymous.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMissouri State UniversitySpringfieldUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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