A sharp eye for her SOI: perception and misperception of female sociosexuality at zero acquaintance

Tyler F. Stillman*, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Two studies supported the hypothesis that female sociosexuality can be accurately detected by strangers based on thin slices of observable behavior. Twenty-four female participants, whose sexual strategies ranged from highly restricted to highly unrestricted, were video taped while interacting with a male confederate. In Study 1, raters' judgments of the women's sociosexuality were highly correlated with the women's self-reported sociosexuality. Study 2 replicated this finding and identified specific cues perceivers used to make their judgments. We identified (1) Valid cues (e.g., eyebrow flashes, glances at the confederate), which were associated with both targets' actual sociosexuality and raters' perceptions of sociosexuality; (2) Poor cues (e.g., hand gestures, posture), which were not correlated with actual or perceived sociosexuality; and (3) Misleading cues (e.g., provocativeness of dress, physical attractiveness), which were not associated with actual sociosexuality, but were correlated with perceptions of sociosexuality. Statistically controlling for valid cues (but not poor cues or misleading cues) reduced the relationship between perceived and actual sociosexuality, suggesting that perceiving these traits may partially account for perceiver accuracy. The accurate detection of traits in others may play an important role in helping people respond adaptively to important social threats and opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • Human sexuality
  • Jealousy
  • Person perception
  • Sociosexuality
  • Thin slices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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