IU Health and Wellness
Research and insights from Indiana University
Sexual partners and interest in the opposite sex. A study by Indiana University neuroscientist Heather Rupp found that a woman's partner status influenced her interest in the opposite sex. In the study, women both with and without sexual partners showed little difference in their subjective ratings of photos of men when considering such measures as masculinity and attractiveness. However, the women who did not have sexual partners spent more time evaluating photos of men, demonstrating a greater interest in the photos. No such difference was found between men who had sexual partners and those who did not. "These findings may reflect sex differences in reproductive strategies that may act early in the cognitive processing of potential partners and contribute to sex differences in sexual attraction and behavior," said Rupp, assistant scientist at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. The study was published in the March issue of Human Nature.
- Background: For the study, 59 men and 56 women rated 510 photos of opposite-sex faces for realism, masculinity/femininity, attractiveness, or affect. Participants were instructed to give their "gut" reaction and to rate the pictures as quickly as possible. The men and women ranged in age from 17 to 26, were heterosexual, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and were not using hormonal contraception. Of the women, 21 reported they had a current sexual partner; 25 of the men reported having a sexual partner. This is the first study to report whether having a current sexual partner influences interest in the opposite sex. Other studies have demonstrated that hormones, relationship goals and social context influence such interest.
"That there were no detectable effects of sexual partner status on women's subjective ratings of male faces, but there were on response times, which emphasizes the subtlety of this effect and introduces the possibility that sexual partner status impacts women's cognitive processing of novel male faces but not necessarily their conscious subjective appraisal," the authors wrote in the journal article. The researchers also note that influence of partner status in women could reflect that women, on average, are relatively committed in their romantic relationships, "which possibly suppresses their attention to and appraisal of alternative partners."
Co-authors include Giliah R. Librach, Kinsey Institute; Nick C. Feipel, Kinsey Institute; Ellen D. Ketterson, Department of Biology at IU; Dale R. Sengelaub, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU; Julia Heiman, Kinsey Institute.
Social connections need to be primed -- not neglected -- in difficult times. When dealing with a job loss, money problems or other stresses, it can be tempting to turn inward, becoming overly critical and self-conscious. In times like these, however, leaning on social connections -- by either strengthening existing ones or making new ones -- is more important than ever. "The solution to these difficult times is in the heart, in becoming more involved in the lives of other people," said Bernardo J. Carducci, psychology professor at Indiana University Southeast. Strengthening existing friendships, volunteering for a nonprofit organization and participating in a hobby-oriented club are just some of the ways to turn one's focus outward in what Carducci calls a win-win situation. Carducci said social connections help promote better health and happiness in individuals and can buffer stress. For people looking for jobs, the helping hand can go both ways when they volunteer for a service or nonprofit organization:
- Communities and agencies benefit from the help while the volunteers are able to keep their skills current, contribute to a worthy cause and beef up their resumes by demonstrating teamwork and filling in employment gaps.
- Volunteer work can lead to new friendships and contacts who can be key to finding a new job. "You find a job by knowing somebody, hearing about something ahead of time," Carducci said. "By the time it goes online, everybody knows about it."
- It's possible that volunteer work for an agency or organization could lead to a job at the same organization when the economy improves.
- Volunteering can help people step out of their comfort zone by letting them try something new, such as teaching seminars to community groups -- with little risk to the volunteer. "You might find that there's something different that you might want to do," Carducci said.
- The work helps volunteers stay focused and optimistic.
Carducci, author of The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk: How to Talk to Anyone Anytime Anywhere About Anything, urges job-seekers to focus on their social connections rather than the Internet because he said friends and contacts can provide important job leads before the jobs are even posted online.
Carducci can be reached at 812-941-2295 and firstname.lastname@example.org. For tips for making small talk or to learn more about the Shyness Research Institute, which Carducci directs, visit http://www.ius.edu/shyness. Top
Changing careers no small thing. With the economy in a recession, the market shifting away from manufacturing, and the current Indiana unemployment rate above 10 percent and still climbing, many Hoosiers are reassessing their current careers -- if they still have a career at all. "A lot of people are struggling not only to make ends meet, but also to get a sense of where they are going," said Ron Lindle, director of workforce education with the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Community Learning Network. "People are looking around in this economy, with so many others also out of work, and wondering how they can get a job or even consider a career change." But there are jobs to be found in this economy, and when it comes to reassessing career options, it is still possible to turn career goals into reality -- whether goals involve moving in an upward direction or a completely different direction. Lindle and Mary Jane Brown, director of the IUPUI Community Learning Network Programs of Study, offer these tips:
- Determine your career goal. For many, being able to take the next step upward within their existing place of employment is the most realistic, attainable goal. "Continuing your education is definitely worth the time and energy these days," said Brown. "Keeping up with the issues and trends in your current career or re-training for a new career is an investment in your future."
- Assess your skills. Once you've determined what you would like to do, take a look at the required skills for those positions and compare them to your own skills. "You may discover that only a few classes separate you from being qualified for the job," said Lindle. "You may see the need to expand your computer skills or to improve your communication and writing skills. Or you may discover that a degree is required to get where you want to go."
- Research your options. A common mistake people often make is to think that furthering their education is not a possibility, either because of financial or time constraints. "This is very often not the reality," said Brown. "Adult learners are an important population to colleges, and special programs exist specifically with the adult learner in mind. Nontraditional schedules, online courses and other support services are just a few examples."
- Create a plan. Once you've determined your goal, assessed what you need to do to get there and researched your options, all that remains is to put a plan of action together to get from here to there. Be sure to include not only the training you will need, but also the job search items you will have to get in place. These include revising your resume, working on developing or refreshing interview skills, and networking with others in your desired field. "Creating a strategy is a very effective way of seeing your way to success," said Lindle.
- Involve others. Sometimes the best sources of information and support are right under your nose. Be sure to tell those around you of your plans, and seek their assistance in helping you get there. One well-placed comment to the right person might be the ticket to the career of your dreams.
For adults in the Indianapolis area who would like additional help in planning a pathway to future career success, the IUPUI Community Learning Network will be offering free seminars this summer. The seminars, titled "A Blueprint for Action," offer a quick start to finding a new job or rethinking your career direction, and will focus on the most productive steps toward an effective job search. Participants will receive a checklist to help them stay stay on track and learn about some of the skills most in demand in Central Indiana. There is no fee for this workshop, but participants need to register so that materials will be available and because seating is limited. Visit cln.iupui.edu or call 317-278-7600 to learn more.
Brown can be reached at 317-278-7600 and email@example.com. Lindle can be reached at 317-274-5045 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit scs.indiana.edu/campusdiv.html for a complete listing of continuing studies programs across Indiana. Top
For additional assistance with these media tips, contact Tracy James, University Communications, at 812-855-0084 and email@example.com.