Is she coming on to him?: image via about-alcohol-facts.com The study, undertaken at the University of Iowa and Indiana University, not only reinforces what we've already learned in behavioral psychology - that we notice what we are primed to notice - but also that we don't notice what we are primed not to notice.
Specifically, the investigators narrowed their focus to the interpretation of sexual cues being made by models in photographic images. A total of 232 college age men, average age of 19, were involved in the study. The men took surveys relating to their relationship history and their comfort with certain sexually aggressive attitudes.
Photos of models wearing different styles of clothing, of different levels of attractiveness, and different body and facial languages in their poses, were shown to the men. Later, the men were shown the photos again, but with additional photos of the same women giving opposite cues. The men were asked to indicate which photos they had seen during the first set of photos.
Though the investigators found that most of the men remembered the sexual cues presented by the women in the photos fairly well, especially if the woman was attractive, those who had been in serious relationships with women were better at remembering the cues than those who scored higher on sexual aggression.
You may want to think about this before reacting, because there are many conclusions that can be drawn which may not be supported by this study. In any case, one conclusion that the researchers do not wish be drawn is that under any circumstances a victim of sexual aggression is not responsible for that aggression because of his or her own attire, posture, or expression.
This study makes me think about many different kinds of aggressors, but particularly those in personal relationships. Aggressors are not primed to see (or care) what another person is feeling or expressing, so they don't.