A picture worth a thousand words: New research links visual cues to male sexual memory

October 12, 2010

A new study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology finds that college-aged men are very likely to remember a woman's initial sexual interest (attraction or rejection), especially when the woman in question is thought to be attractive, is dressed more provocatively, and expresses positive sexual interest.

In the study the men were shown full-body photographs of college-aged women who expressed cues of sexual interest or rejection. The participating males represented mixed sexual histories, and a capacity for varying degrees of sexually .

The ability to discriminate accurately between photos that the males had and had not seen previously indicated good memory for women's sexual interest. Throughout the study they were presented with previously viewed photos and new photos of the same women in which they communicated the opposite cue (e.g., rejection instead of sexual interest). The average young man showed excellent memory for whether women initially displayed sexual interest or rejection. However, males showed better memory for the woman's sexual-interest when the woman was broadly more appealing to him: she initially expressed positive sexual interest, was dressed more provocatively, and was thought to be attractive.

College-aged men at risk of displaying sexual aggression toward female acquaintances show worse memory for college-aged women's sexual-interest and rejection cues. Lead author Teresa Treat observes, "Misremembering a woman's level of sexual interest could prompt some men to make an unwanted sexual advance and become frustrated when a woman doesn't respond as anticipated. Conversely, college-aged men who report more frequent serious with women show better memory for college-aged women's sexual-interest and cues. This suggests that tracking and remembering a partner's emotions may play a role in the initiation and maintenance of a serious romantic relationship."

The long-term significance of the findings will depend on whether the memory of sexual interest impacts the male's subsequent behaviour, experiences, and social decisions when cues of sexual interest are presented in a more lifelike manner (i.e., in videotapes or real-life interactions). However, numerous factors other than for a partner's emotions play a central role in developing both positive and negative sexual experiences among young adults.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Encouraging risk-taking in children may reduce the prevalence of childhood anxiety

December 13, 2017
A new international study suggests that parents who employ challenging parent behavioural (CPB) methods – active physical and verbal behaviours that encourage children to push their limits – are likely protecting their ...

Anti-stress compound reduces obesity and diabetes

December 13, 2017
For the first time, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich could prove that a stress protein found in muscle has a diabetes promoting effect. This finding could pave the way to a completely new treatment ...

Researchers link epigenetic aging to bipolar disorder

December 12, 2017
Bipolar disorder may involve accelerated epigenetic aging, which could explain why persons with the disorder are more likely to have - and die from - age-related diseases, according to researchers from The University of Texas ...

Researchers find common psychological traits in group of Italians aged 90 to 101

December 12, 2017
In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San ...

Your mood depends on the food you eat, and what you should eat changes as you get older

December 11, 2017
Diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus older adults, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Twitter can reveal our shared mood

December 11, 2017
In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed mood indicators in text from 800 million anonymous messages posted on Twitter. These tweets were found to reflect strong patterns ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.