Two studies tested the hypothesis that people attend preferentially to high status men (but not women). Participants overestimated the frequency of high status men in rapidly presented arrays (Experiment 1) and fixated their visual attention on high status men in an eye-tracking study (Experiment 2). Neither study showed any evidence of preferential attention to high status women, but there was evidence that physically attractive women captured attention. The results from both studies support evolutionary theories regarding differential prioritization of social status and physical attractiveness in men versus women. These findings illustrate how examination of early-in-the-stream social cognition can provide useful insights into the adapted mind.

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Published in Evolutionary Psychology, v. 6, issue 2, p. 328-341.

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