Entries in derogation (3)


Some Things You Know You Have Before They’re Gone

A wise man (with amazing hair) once crooned “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. The statement’s intended interpretation is that we often take for granted the positive characteristics of our romantic partners up until the moment the relationship is lost.

But is it possible that there are some things we do know we have before we’ve lost them, and that we go out of our way to hang on tight? In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Joshua Oltmanns, Patrick Markey, and Juliana French hypothesized just that. Specifically, they argued that people in relationships are especially in tune how their own physical attractiveness stacks up relative to their partner.1 And when an individual perceives their partner is the relatively more attractive one, they will do things, subtly and not so subtly, to keep their hotter partner all to themselves.

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Conquering Contrast Effects: The Strong Survive and the Weak Shall Perish 

Ever catch your partner checking out an attractive stranger on the street? Ever notice all of the good-looking opposite-sex friends your partner has accumulated on Facebook? Such things might seem harmless, but these “beautiful” people may actually make us less appealing to our partners, due to what researchers refer to as contrast effects. Contrast effects occur when something looks better or worse depending on what we compare to it. In this case, you could look less attractive to your partner when compared to someone else that is more attractive, whether that person is a sexy passerby, a good-looking co-worker, or even someone featured in erotic material. (Read more about contrast effects here.) 

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Death, Derogation, and Double Standards: What’s a Sexy Woman to Do?

You do not need to look hard for evidence that North Americans are uncomfortable with female sexuality. Women, for example, are derogated for engaging in less common sexual behaviors, like threesomes. Male sexuality, alternatively, is often viewed positively or—at worst—ambivalently. This ‘sexual double standard’, when society evaluates women negatively than men for comparable sexual behaviors, is an extensively researched phenomenon.

Perplexingly, some of the research on the double standard has indicated that men are the most likely to endorse it. Why would a man derogate a sexual woman, when it would seem to be more in his interest to encourage female promiscuity? Research conducted by Dr. Mark Landau and colleagues provides an interesting explanation for this phenomenon. According to these researchers, men degrade sexual women because these women make them feel lusty, and thereby remind men of their ‘natural creaturely origins’. If this argument seems far-fetched, bear with me. Let me explain...

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