The Misperception of Sexual Interest
Carin Perilloux, Judith Easton & David Buss
Psychological Science, forthcoming
Abstract: The current study (N = 199) utilized a "speed-meeting" methodology to study sexual misperception. This method allowed us to evaluate the magnitude of
men's sexual over-perception bias, whether and how women misperceive sexual interest, and individual differences in susceptibility to misperception. We found strong support for the novel prediction that women underestimate the sexual interest of male interaction partners. Men inclined to pursue a short-term mating strategy and men who rated themselves as attractive were especially likely to over-perceive women's sexual interest. As targets of misperception, women's physical attractiveness predicted the magnitude of men's sexual over-perception bias. We discuss implications of gender differences and individual differences within sex in susceptibility to sexual misperception.
Interesting that the prettier the woman, the more the man thinks she is interested in him. All men think they are good drivers, good dancers, and good...you know.
To be fair, though, this is clearly adaptive. Type 1 and type 2 error problem. If only one out of ten women who smile at you actually thinks she wants you, it makes sense to be embarrassed nine times and have a shot at reproducing once. There is no fitness penalty for embarrassment. But there is a fitness penalty for thinking you are ugly and not trying. The fact that most men are in fact ugly is irrelevant.
Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is always a gentleman.