Men accept unfairness from pretty women, study finds

Participants were offered deals by varying female allocators

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 08 July 2015 21:29
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Males are more likely to tolerate "unfair offers" from females if they are attractive, a study into the effects of beauty on our responses has claimed.

In 'The undermining effect of facial attractiveness on brain responses to fairness in the Ultimatum Game', published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers investigated "the time course of the neural processing of facial attractiveness and its influence on fairness consideration during social interactions".

Male participants were shown images of 'attractive and unattractive' female faces, as ranked by a separate group, each proposing how to split ¥10 between herself and the responder in a deal responders were told actually existed.

After analysing the data, the co-authors came up with this conclusion:

To summarize, the "beauty premium" influenced responder fairness during the Ultimate Game . Unfair offers from attractive female allocators were more acceptable to the male subjects, and the males presented with fluctuating reaction times to the five offers in comparison with a stable reaction pattern in the unattractive-face condition. The event-related potentials data supported the behavioral findings. In the early feedback-related negativity (FRN) and late stages of outcome evaluation, the subjects' fairness consideration was undermined by the “beauty premium,” which resulted in null FRN effects in the attractive-face condition. Additionally, the time course of brain responses to facial attractiveness illustrated that attractive faces elicited a decreased early negativity and an enhanced late positive potential compared with unattractive faces.

The assumptions drew criticism however, with one commenter suggesting that participants could have taken longer to respond because they simply enjoyed looking at attractive faces.

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