Thesis, Ayers, Jessica, M.A., CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FULLERTON, 2016
Women’s intrasexual competition became a salient topic of investigation after a paper detailing the different evolutionary pressures ancestral women would have faced as primary care givers of dependent offspring was published. Since then, the majority of research on this topic has come from a “direct threat” perspective, focusing on how women gain and maintain access to mates when a sexual rival poses a direct threat to a current or future romantic relationship. However, the most understudied area of competition centers on women’s competition when mating-related outcomes (i.e., increased mating opportunities, necessary mate guarding) are not immediately present. In this study, I propose a model of women’s competition that combines dynamic cooperation and sexual economics theory to explain competition when mating related consequences are not readily present. To test the “coordinated condemnation” model of women’s same-sex competition, I manipulated the amount of cleavage shown in an image across two conditions and asked women to rate her on various characteristics. Using a large and diverse sample of women (N = 732), I documented that participants shown the target image with visible cleavage perceived her more negatively than participants shown the target image with a modesty panel, even in domains seemingly unrelated to physical attractiveness and mating. The participant’s physical attractiveness, intrasexual competitiveness, social comparison orientation, and ovulatory cycle phase did not moderate this effect, and their relationship status did not mediate this effect.