TitleApplications of signaling theory to contemporary human courtship
NameDunham, Bria Lane (author), Cronk, Lee (chair), Palombit, Ryne (internal member), Ahearn, Laura (internal member), Fisher, Helen (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Signal detection (Psychology),
Communication and sex
DescriptionSignaling theory, a popular approach in ethology and theoretical biology, can be employed to better understand social interaction in humans. Applied to contemporary human courtship, signaling theory can provide a framework for interpreting information transmitted at an initial encounter, signals conveyed at key relationship phases both within a romantic couple and to outside parties, and the regular communicative exchange within established relationships. This dissertation applies signaling theory to courtship in testing evolutionary hypotheses within three projects, each involving a different subject population situated at a salient courtship phase. The first project addresses the signaling value of women's faces absent any other information, which is analogous to a first meeting prior to the beginning of courtship. Testosterone-mediated facial features were positively associated with viewer perceptions of masculinity, positively associated with self-reports of sociosexual attitudes and behaviors, and negatively associated with viewer perceptions of attractiveness. The second project explores the signaling potential of engagement rings among a sample of Ohio newlyweds. Engagement ring cost was positively associated with male income and female income, and was negatively associated with female age, indicating that engagement ring cost may reflect both male and female mate value. The cost of engagement rings as a proportion of male salary was positively associated with courtship duration, suggesting that engagement ring cost may reinforce a signal of commitment already conveyed by a lengthy courtship. The third project concerns notions of spousal obligation on the Honduran island of Utila. This project used an experimental interview setting to elicit and measure audience effects. In response to key questions about characteristics sought in wives, men interviewed in the presence of their wives used more forceful rhetoric. Furthermore, men's responses more frequently emphasized women's morality whereas women's responses more frequently emphasized male resource control.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Bria Lane Dunham
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.