Sensational interests as a form of intrasexual competition

A Weiss, V Egan, A J Figueredo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Sensational interests, i.e. a curiosity for the violent and macabre, are reputedly common in mentally disordered offenders. However, ostensibly well-adjusted individuals are also interested in these topics. We tested the hypothesis that individual differences in sensational interests may partially reflect intrasexual competition for status and have an underlying evolutionary function. Several predictions derive from this hypothesis. First, age and sex should be directly related to individual differences in mating effort (the degree that an individual devotes resources to finding and guarding sexual partners). Second, mating effort should directly influence sensational interests. Third, there should also be direct effects of age and sex on sensational interests. To test these predictions we collected data on 969 university undergraduates using the Revised Version of the Sensational Interests Questionnaire (SIQ-R) and the Mating effort Scale (MES). A structural equations model revealed that a single factor accounted for the majority of the variance of the three SIQ-R subscales, Paranormal, Militarism, and Criminal Identity. This model also included direct effects of age and sex on the MES and two SIQ-R subscales and direct effects of the MES on the SIQ-R. Model fit statistics indicated that this model was a good fit to the data. We conclude that, even in a non-clinical sample, an affinity for sensational interests might serve a form of intrasexual competition. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-573
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mating effort
  • sensational interests
  • intrasexual competition
  • individual differences


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