In case you missed any of them, here are links to our holiday-themed articles from the last week:
- All I Want for Christmas is You: The Science of Gift Giving
- The Lover’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Gift-Giving
- Regifting: A Gift-Giver’s Hidden Shame
- This Holiday Season, Get Your Romantic Partner Exactly What He or She Wants
- Want to Get Lucky on Your Holiday Date? Skip the Mistletoe and Wear Red Instead
- The Warm Glow of the Past
- Erotic Photos: A Holiday Gift Both You and Your Partner will Appreciate?
We'll be running our annual "Editors' Choice Awards" for the next two weeks (see here for last year's picks). Happy holidays!
Men are dumber around women. Thijs Verwijmeren, Vera Rommeswinkel and Johan C. Karremans gave men cognitive tests after they had interacted with a woman via computer. In the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the male cognitive performance declined after the interaction, or even after the men merely anticipated an interaction with a woman.
This passage comes from a piece by David Brooks on the New York Times website. We're always glad to see relationship science making it's way into the popular press. But, unfortunately, Brooks doesn't provide readers with much information about the research itself. Lucky for you, we do. Check out our coverage of this study here.
Each year around mid-November, business owners begin to lick their chops: the next month will arguably be their busiest and most profitable. Last year, for example, Americans spent over $52 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend alone.1 Although large portions of these purchases are surely self-indulging, people also make a lot of purchases to take care of gift shopping for the upcoming holiday season.
Gift giving seems to be a biologically natural phenomenon across a range of species and targets – even organisms as simple as insects feel the need to get in on the giving.
It’s that time of the year again - streets coloured with festive decorations, malls ringing with well-known holiday music, and shops filled with people wandering aimlessly in search of the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I, for one, struggle every year to find that special present that will give my boyfriend a big smile under the holiday lights. I’m sure I’m not the only one who suffers from this pre-holiday shopping stress. To add to my stress, research confirms what we probably all know already: gift-giving has a significant impact on romantic relationships.
Ever get a gift that was so perfect for you that you actually already had the gifted item? Or maybe you received a gift that was so awful that you wondered if the giver knew you at all. (Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but what were they thinking?!) These are the times when gift receipts and generous store return policies come in handy. But if exchanges aren’t allowed, we may find ourselves contemplating “regifting” (i.e., giving the unwanted gift to someone else), especially with National Regifting Day approaching on the Thursday before Christmas. We may feel ashamed or opportunistic, however, about presenting someone with a gift we didn’t want ourselves in light of the distinct social taboo against the practice of regifting. (Remember Elaine’s indignant “He recycled this gift! He’s a regifter!” on Seinfeld?). Is this worry justified?
As the gift giving swings into full gear, the pressure is on to find that perfect gift for your significant other. But what sort of present will best communicate your affections? Should you scour the mall (or internet) in search of new gift-giving inspiration? Or should you “stick to the list”, and just give your partner what he or she wished for?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, everyone knows that red is one of the colors associated with this holiday. It’s the color of Santa’s suit, Rudolph’s nose, and those tacky woolen sweaters you inevitably see at the office holiday party. However, recent research suggests that red gets us “in the mood” for more than just eggnog and gift-giving—it also increases how attractive and sexually desirable we find other people.
Let’s take a trip down nostalgia lane for a moment. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and try to bring to mind a special memory. What came to mind? You might be thinking about a special time with a loved one or a beloved pet. Perhaps you are recalling an event that has special meaning for you, such as your wedding day or the birth of your child. Maybe the thought of Grandma’s cookies flood your senses – so much so that you can actually smell them baking in the kitchen. Or you could be thinking about the happy-go-lucky days of your youth when you were free to be whomever you wanted to be.
Looking for the perfect Holiday gift for a romantic partner or lover? Our research suggests that having an erotic photo taken could turn out to be a great gift for both you and your partner!
In recent years, a growing number of women (and some men and couples too!) have been visiting professional photographers to have sexy photos taken. Recently, myself and my colleagues conducted two studies about erotic photography and learned that there is more to this experience than meets the eye.
Having just moved into a new house, one thing is clear to me (and the moving guys): Couples accumulate a lot of stuff. Whether it’s the crates full of grunge CDs from college or our new bedroom furniture, I have firsthand knowledge that as a couple’s relationship develops, so does their collection of objects and artifacts. Now I’m not talking about the folks on Hoarders here. Rather, as normal couples build a household together, undoubtedly that includes merging each individuals’ possessions along with the acquisition of new things (please see my credit card statement as evidence for the latter).
What do those household objects say about relationships? Can we tell anything about a couple by looking at their stuff?
In case you missed any of them, here are links to our articles from the last week:
- Why Is The Popular Media So Fascinated By “Cougars?”
- Could You Be Loved, and Give Love? Cultural Differences in Pursuing a Partner
- Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: How Having Money Can Make You a Worse Parent
- The “Halo” of Hot Women
- Dating with Children: How and When Should You Introduce the Kids?
Here's what we've been reading this week:
- New Love: A Short Shelf Life (nytimes.com)
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm (VIDEO) (lehmiller.com)
- Can You Fake Your Way Into Falling In Love? (bigthink.com)
- Women Can Tell A Cheating Man Just By Looking At Them (reuter.com)
As you may have noticed, some of Hollywood’s leading ladies have taken younger lovers and husbands in recent years. Although most people still think about the recently-dissolved Demi and Ashton (separated in age by 16 years) as the epitome of older women-younger man relationships, there are actually numerous other examples. Susan Sarandon (33 years older than her partner), Mariah Carey (+11 years), Jennifer Lopez (+18 years), Katie Couric (+17 years), and Madonna (+30ish years) are all currently involved with younger guys (click here for a few additional examples). The public and popular press alike have been fascinated by these so-called “cougar” relationships, considering them worthy of front page news. However, if you’re anything like me, you probably can’t help but wonder why these relationships are such a big deal.
Michelle Kaufman is a researcher who focuses on sexual behavior in the developing world. She globe trots regularly, conducting ethnographic work all along the way in order to inform both the quantitative and qualitative research she conducts. Recently, Michelle visited 3 countries in 1 trip and did a cross-cultural comparison.
My last international romp spanned across 2 continents and 3 countries—Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. Since I’ve written about each of these countries individually, this time I decided to do a cross-cultural comparison in my ethnographic fieldwork. In each country, I wanted to look at how men and women show their romantic interest in a potential partner.
Common sense suggests that people should get their financial ducks in a row before having children. Indeed, couples frequently put off having children because they first want to be more financially secure. There are definitely some important upsides to this strategy; for example, kids tend to be healthier and happier when their parents are more well-off. But might there also be downsides to pursuing wealth before parenting?
When you see a really attractive woman, you might be struck by her beauty, but does her beauty affect what you assume is going on in her head? Or what kind of character she has? Perhaps. People tend to assume that physically attractive people hold other positive qualities just by looking at them—this is one example of the “Halo Effect” or what is also known as the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype. For example, observers assume that good-looking people are more socially skilled, better at their jobs, and more emotionally healthy (e.g., less anxiety or loneliness). But is there any truth to this perception? Are hot people actually higher on these qualities? Researchers examined this question in a recent study published in Psychological Science.
I have not been able to see The Consultant much the last few weeks due to his travel schedule. When he is in town, our ability to find time to spend together has been further complicated by the fact that we both have kids. Faced with the possibility of not seeing each other at all over the long Thanksgiving weekend because of our childcare obligations, I proposed “running into each other” at a local museum. He was looking for something to do with his tween girls anyway, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.