Effect of peer influence on attraction to potential partners
May 13, 2015
Department or Program
Peers influence the people that we are attracted to and who we choose as dating and sexual partners. Peer ratings of attractiveness have been found to alter attractiveness ratings among individuals. Our study examines the effect of peer influence on perceptions of possible dating and sexual partners across genders in college students. Male and female undergraduate students were shown a series of pictures representing potential romantic partners with and without peer ratings of attractiveness. Participants were asked to rate the potential partners on physical attractiveness and likelihood of dating or sexually interacting with the partner. In addition, participants also rated the extent to which the potential partner would find them attractive and desirable as a sexual or dating partner. Individuals shown potential partners deemed highly attractive by peers found the potential partner to be more attractive than partners shown without peer ratings. Higher ratings of attractiveness were also associated with higher likelihood to date the partner for both genders. Lastly, self-desirability as a dating or sexual partner was predicted from appearance self-esteem and appearance comparison self-esteem. Our findings suggest that peer influence affects individuals’ choices in dating and sexual partners among college students.