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A person’s physical position relative to others is a scarcely investigated, yet potentially very powerful, variable that regulates social perception. This research suggests that people strategically position themselves either higher or lower, relative to observers, in order to manage observers’ social impressions. Four studies supported the prediction that women display a low relative physical position to highlight youthful features and to appear attractive whereas men display a high relative physical position to highlight their size and to appear dominant. The effectiveness of these strategies was confirmed in the final study that measured social perceptions of male and female targets who varied in their relative position. Findings demonstrate that, like the members of other social species, people use relative physical position to manage social impressions, though men and women do so in different ways. These impression management strategies may have deep ancestral roots, yet manifest themselves through contemporary human modalities (photographs).
attraction, dominance, perception, photographs, sex differences
Date of Defense
April 25, 2016.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
James K. McNulty, Professor Directing Thesis; Andrea Meltzer, Committee Member; Colleen Ganley, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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