New study shows how intrasexual competition can influence women’s clothing choices

New research sheds light on how women choose their clothes when competing with others for a potential mate. The study was published in Evolutionary psychological science.

“We got this idea in a Capstone psychology class. My co-authors were students at the time and wanted to know if women used clothing as a form of competition with other women, and if that would depend on the situation and who their competition would be, ”the author said. main. Carin Perilloux, associate professor of psychology at Southwestern University.

In the study, 393 heterosexual and bisexual women aged 19 to 28 were asked to imagine they were currently single and chasing a partner before reading a short story describing an upcoming party in which their male crush would be present. or absent. The story said that they would attend the party with a companion more or less attractive than them. In addition, this companion was either described as an acquaintance or as a close friend.

After reading the thumbnail, attendees were shown a clothing item page and asked to create an outfit to wear for the party. A separate sample of 50 women and 50 men, who were unaware of the purpose of the study, rated each garment for revealing and sexy.

Researchers found evidence that mate attractiveness, participants’ level of familiarity with mate, and presence of a crush influenced how women chose clothing.

“When a woman’s crush is there, she’s likely to dress in sexier clothes if she’s with a female acquaintance than a close friend. This confirms that women seem to use clothing as a form of intrasexual competition and / or partner attraction, but only when competing with women they are not close to, ”Perilloux told PsyPost .

But the study – like all research – comes with a few caveats.

“We used an imaginary scenario and generic clothing – it would be best to test this with real scenarios and a participant’s real clothing, but this was not logistically possible in our study. Additionally, we may have underestimated the effect of female attractiveness in the scenario because we asked participants to imagine someone more or less (randomly assigned) attractive than them. . Because people tend to befriend other people of similar attraction, this might have hindered our ability to detect an effect for this variable, ”explained Perilloux.

“Because we found that the presence of a male crush was one of the most important effects of our model, it seems likely that women’s clothing is at least partially a method of partner attraction, and that her use in direct intrasexual competition might be lower or even non-existent.

The study, “Friend or enemy? Partner presence and rival type influence female clothing-based intrasexual competitionWas written by Emily S. Olson, Ella R. Doss and Carin Perilloux.


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