Implicit and explicit preferences for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner: A double dissociation in predictive validity

Paul W. Eastwick*, Alice H. Eagly, Eli J. Finkel, Sarah E. Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

Five studies develop and examine the predictive validity of an implicit measure of the preference for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner. Three hypotheses were generally supported. First, 2 variants of the go/no-go association task revealed that participants, on average, demonstrate an implicit preference (i.e., a positive spontaneous affective reaction) for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner. Second, these implicit measures were not redundant with a traditional explicit measure: The correlation between these constructs was00 on average, and the implicit measures revealed no reliable sex differences, unlike the explicit measure. Third, explicit and implicit measures exhibited a double dissociation in predictive validity. Specifically, explicit preferences predicted the extent to which attractiveness was associated with participants' romantic interest in opposite-sex photographs but not their romantic interest in real-life opposite-sex speed-daters or confederates. Implicit preferences showed the opposite pattern. This research extends prior work on implicit processes in romantic relationships and offers the first demonstration that any measure of a preference for a particular characteristic in a romantic partner (an implicit measure of physical attractiveness, in this case) predicts individuals' evaluation of live potential romantic partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1011
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume101
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

Keywords

  • Attraction
  • Implicit measures
  • Mate preferences
  • Mating
  • Physical attractiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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