Viewing Time Effects Revisited: Prolonged Response Latencies for Sexually Attractive Targets Under Restricted Task Conditions

Imhoff, Roland; Schmidt, Alexander; Nordsiek, Uta; Luzar, Charlotte; Young, Andrew; Banse, Rainer
December 2010
Archives of Sexual Behavior;Dec2010, Vol. 39 Issue 6, p1275
Academic Journal
Sexually attractive stimuli are watched longer than unattractive stimuli. The processes underlying this robust and reliable viewing time effect are presently not well understood. In the present research comprising four experiments (total N = 250), four classes of potential explanations are proposed and the derived implications were experimentally tested. Contrary to explanations based on either deliberate delay or attentional adhesion to sexually attractive stimuli, prolonged response latencies were also found under restricted task conditions. Sexually preferred targets elicited longer response latencies in a self-paced evaluation task when stimulus pictures were presented for 750 ms (Experiment 1) or for 500 ms and followed by a pattern mask (Experiment 2). Prolonged latencies for sexually preferred targets were also observed when sexual attractiveness was rated in a speeded binary decision task with a response window of 1000 ms (Experiment 3). Eventually, it was shown that the response latency effect in the speeded binary choice task was still preserved when only the heads of target individuals were presented instead of the bodies (Experiment 4). Mate identification and schematic processes are discussed as the remaining plausible mechanisms for prolonged response latencies for sexually attractive targets under restricted conditions.


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