A man’s popularity in the dating market can influence his sexual attitudes and even his views on sociopolitical issues, according to new research published in the scholarly journal Adaptive human behavior and physiology. The study provides new experimental evidence that unpopularity with the opposite sex can change straight men’s views of the minimum wage and health care.
“It may seem far-fetched to say that a person’s dating life can affect that person’s socio-political attitudes. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that romantic successes and failures in our day-to-day dating lives can have a profound impact on the way we think and act,” said study author Francesca R. Luberti, a postdoctoral researcher at Nipissing University in North Bay.
“One need look no further than the ‘incel’ phenomenon for a concrete example of how dating can influence politics. Involuntarily celibate (incel) men (an internet subculture that has become increasingly popular in recent years) have misogynistic attitudes and oppose gender equality because they believe they are unfairly rejected by women. I was interested in these phenomena and wanted to test experimentally whether the popularity of dating potential partners of the opposite sex can really influence the socio-political attitudes of straight people.”
In the study, which enrolled 237 single heterosexual young adults, participants first rated their self-perceived desirability as a romantic partner. Participants were then asked to record a short video of themselves explaining why they would make a good dating partner.
Participants were told that this video would be viewed by five same-sex peers, who would provide feedback in the form of short video responses. While waiting for the video feedback, the participants filled out demographic questionnaires and viewed what appeared to be a loading page, on which links to the feedback videos slowly appeared, one at a time.
In reality, however, the video feedback was pre-recorded by actors and actresses. Participants were randomly assigned one of six combinations of feedback, ranging from all positive to all negative.
After viewing the feedback videos, participants then completed questionnaires on traditional gender roles, casual sex, minimum wage and health care, and implicit sexual and political attitudes.
“We found that unpopular men (those who received a higher number of rejections from their peers) reported less support for casual sex than popular men (those who received a higher number of positive responses). Dating popularity did not affect women’s sociopolitical attitudes,” Luberti told PsyPost.
“We also found that unpopular men reported lower levels of positive affect (positive emotions such as happiness, enthusiasm, and pride) than popular men, and lower positive affect men reported less support for casual sex and less support for raising the minimum wage and Access to health care than men with higher positive affect.”
“So, the most important finding from this study is that women’s sociopolitical attitudes do not appear to be affected by dating popularity, while men’s dating popularity causes changes in men’s positive emotions, and these changes in turn cause some, if not some, changes everyone, can change. of men’s socio-political attitudes,” said Luberti.
The new findings are consistent with previous research that found dating popularity was related to men’s support (or lack of support) for casual sex.
“While previous studies have shown that dating popularity influences men’s attitudes towards casual sex, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first experiment to show that experimentally manipulated dating feedback through change also indirectly affects attitudes towards minimum wage and access to the minimum wage Healthcare can affect men’s positive emotions,” Luberti explained.
“Because these results were not predicted a priorifurther research is needed to understand why we found significant associations between dating popularity, positive emotions, and these pro-social attitudes in straight men.”
“Further research should also attempt to replicate these results in other samples as we only collected data from young heterosexual Australian participants. It would be important to replicate these results in other countries or, for example, to include non-heterosexual participants to further prove the robustness of these patterns,” Luberti said.
“Moreover, with this study we could only demonstrate that unpopular men reported significantly different attitudes than popular men, but we could not show whether there are more rejections, fewer positive responses, or both, leading to attitude shifts.” These mechanisms should also be further investigated in future research.”
The new findings are also consistent with research suggesting that the incel subculture is driven in part by mating markets with more competition among males.
“Overall, this study provides evidence that dating can influence some of the politics of straight men,” Luberti said. “Phenomena such as the incel subculture have led to real violence, and in recent years increasing political polarization has led to more political conflict. Scientific research focused on mating and reproductive strategies can provide valuable insight into the causes of these current social problems.”
Changes in Positive Affect Due to Popularity in an Experimental Dating Context Influence Some of Men’s, but Not Women’s, Socio-Political Attitudes study was authored by Francesca R. Luberti, Khandis R. Blake, and Robert C. Brooks.