Facing Competing Motives: Testing for Motivational Tradeoffs in Affiliative and Pathogen-Avoidant Motives via Extraverted Face Preferences

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Affiliative and pathogen-avoidant motives adaptively influence interpersonal preferences. For facial structures connoting extraversion, affiliative motives heighten preferences for extraverted faces, whereas pathogen-avoidant motives downregulate preferences. Despite what appears to be competing tension between motives for preferences in extraverted faces, previous research had yet to identify this possibility within a single experiment. The current study temporally activated an affiliative, pathogen-avoidant, or control state before tasking participants with indicating preferences for extraverted faces, relative to introverted, and support for campus-wide social networking activities to demonstrate convergence with previous findings demonstrating temporal shifts in affiliative interest. Although activated motivational states did not influence interpersonal preferences directly in this study, mediation analyses revealed participants’ upregulated extraverted face preferences and support for a campus social network following an exclusionary experience because of a heightened affiliative desire. We frame results as motivational tradeoffs, offering suggestions to identify competing motive effects more effectively for future research.

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Evolutionary Psychological Science

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