Sex differences in attraction to infants: When do they occur?

Phyllis W. Berman, Pamela Cooper, Phyllis Mansfield, Stephanie Shields, Judith Abplanalp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Harlow (1971) observed that all-female college audiences responded to a pictured infant rhesus monkey with an "ecstasy response," while males were "completely unresponsive," and females in coeducational audiences "inhibited the ecstasy response," explaining these differences in terms of innate sex differences. The present study compared college students' self-reported attraction to pictures of 15 infant and adult nonhuman primates under several conditions. Infant pictures were of two types: infants which were engaged in typical infant behaviors (Infant Behavior), and those which were not (Infant). Subjects made judgments in same- or mixed-sex groups and reported degree of attraction publicly or privately. Ratio scores were used to represent each subject's attraction to infant or infant-behavior pictures compared with his or her attraction to pictures of adults. There were no significant sex differences in attraction to infant or infant-behavior pictures, and sex did not interact with any other variable. However, situational variables significantly affected the response. Males as well as females reported greater attraction to infant and infant-behavior pictures when they viewed the pictures in same-sex compared with mixed-sex groups. Both sexes reported greater attraction to infant and infant-behavior pictures privately than publicly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-318
Number of pages8
JournalSex Roles
Volume1
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1975

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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