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People Underrate Their Attractiveness, Study Finds

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Men and women see themselves as less appealing than members of the opposite sex do, conclude psychologists Jennifer Siciliani of the University of Missouri and Ryan Pride of St. Louis University. They presented research at the American Psychological Society annual meeting in Atlanta, which concludes Sunday.

No matter how buff, men rate themselves as being less muscular than women do. Women perceive themselves as heavier than men see them.

The research is aimed in part at finding out why so many women, and an increasing number of men, have eating disorders. Driven in part by Hollywood portrayals of body types, too many of us have unrealistic expectations about how we should look, the researchers said. "We tend to think the opposite sex wants a much more desirable figure than they actually want," Pride said. Pledges of virginity often broken

Virginity pledges may be made with the best intentions, but they don't work, said psychologist Angela Lipsitz of Northern Kentucky University. She surveyed more than 500 college students and found that 16.3 percent had taken pledges to remain virgins until marriage. But 61 percent of the pledgers had broken their vows. Pledge-breakers reported that their first sexual intercourse had occurred about a year after making the pledge. And 55 percent who said they had kept their pledges indicated that they had engaged in oral sex. "This tells us that some people may not see virginity pledges as including non-intercourse activity," Lipsitz said. "A lot of people don't think oral sex counts. Women go for status in men

Psychologist Shani Robins of Alliant International University in San Diego says that women unconsciously seek out mates with high-status positions. It goes back to caveman days, when men with the biggest muscles could bring home the most bacon and those with the most status could get others to gather food for them. Women consider men more attractive than they really are if the guys are doctors, lawyers or corporate bigwigs, Robins found. But men perceived women as more attractive if they held more ordinary jobs, such as nurses, secretaries and receptionists. In tests, women judged pictures of men labeled with high-status jobs as more attractive than those tagged as low-status workers. When men viewed pictures of women, the labels didn't affect how they rated attractiveness. "Our minds really haven't evolved that much in 100,000 years," Robins says.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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