Publication Date

2015-07-30

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2017-07-29

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2015-04-23

First Committee Member

Michael McCullough

Second Committee Member

Debra Lieberman

Third Committee Member

Brian Doss

Fourth Committee Member

William Browne

Fifth Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Abstract

Based on theorizing that long-term mating strategies are associated with greater religiosity, studies demonstrating that exposure to religious stimuli down-regulates characteristics associated with short-term mating strategies in men, and tentative evidence that women might sometimes pursue short-term mating strategies, I evaluated the effects of religiosity on modesty, a trait associated with women’s mating strategies. I predicted that females’ (but not males’) baseline religiosity would be positively correlated with their modesty, that is, negatively correlated with their skin exposure, on the premise that modesty is a characteristic typically associated with women’s (but not with men’s) short-term mating strategies. I also predicted that female (but not male) participants who wrote about their God and religion would illustrate less skin exposure than their peers who did not write about their God and religion when asked what they would wear to a hypothetical social gathering with attractive members of the opposite sex in attendance. In a college sample of 817 participants, religiosity was correlated with female modesty: Female participants who classified themselves as highly religious exposed less skin in their day-to-day lives. The same was not true of men. Likewise, exposure to religious stimuli increased female, but not male, modesty relative to a control condition. A significant religiosity by religious condition assignment interaction indicated that the religious condition was more effective (relative to the control condition) in reducing skin exposure for highly religious participants than it was for less religious participants.

Keywords

mating strategies; modesty; religion; sex differences; sexual selection

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