Honors Theses


Erin O'Mara, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


This research examines the extent to which a woman’s appearance self-esteem influences her mating decisions. Recent research finds that, at peak fertility, women erroneously perceive attractive, genetically fit men as more willing to commit to them and be better fathers to their potential offspring, but not to another woman or her offspring (Durante, Griskevicius, Simpson, Cantu, & Li, 2012). However, vast amounts of research find that attractive, genetically fit men adopt a short-term mating strategy where they seek to mate with many women but provide for none. The present study extends this research by examining the influence of women’s appearance self-esteem on their perceptions of attractive, genetically fit (i.e., short-term) men. Research finds that self-esteem influences women’s perceptions of their relative mate value and their attractiveness to potential mates (Brase & Guy, 2004); therefore, this study proposes that women’s appearance self-esteem may influence the extent to which women perceive short-term mates (i.e., sexy cads) as more highly-invested long-term mates (i.e., good dads) to the self and to another woman. Participants (women who were not on hormonal birth control) completed a measure of appearance self-esteem, and then they were shown a photo of an attractive man (sexy cad) and an average-looking man (good dad) in a randomized order. After viewing each photo, women evaluated the estimated paternal contribution and commitment level of each man to the self and to another woman. Results showed no significant effects of fertility level on mate preference. However, results showed that appearance self-esteem levels are positively associated with estimated paternal contribution and commitment level of an attractive man for both the self and for the other woman, but more so for the self (i.e., at a higher magnitude).

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Undergraduate research


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Psychology Commons