I believe research should be a collaborative process that embraces the contributions of colleagues and students from start to finish. Networking with colleagues, both internal and external to my area of expertise, keeps me abreast of research developments beyond those in the literature I most frequently access. Importantly, it also allows me to solicit constructive feedback as I refine my research ideas and hypotheses. Previous studies of mine have also been enhanced with the help of undergraduate research assistants and honors students. Their assistance expedited the research process but more importantly, provided them with a valuable opportunity to become familiarized with the rigors and methods of science. As my research program advances, I will continue to provide students with the opportunity for hands-on research experience by welcoming those who wish to assist with my research projects as well as supervising those who have empirical questions of their own to explore.
In collaboration with Carin Perilloux and David Buss, I study the relative importance of a potential mate’s facial and bodily attractiveness across various mating contexts. Across several studies, we have shown that men place greater priority on a woman’s bodily attractiveness than facial attractiveness for short-term, relative to long-term, romantic relationships. This pattern of results is consistent with the premise that indices of fertility, which are of particular interest to men pursuing brief sexual relationships, are more readily assessed from a woman’s body than her face. We also explore how individual differences in physical attractiveness give rise to a myriad of adaptive problems, particularly in domains relating to intrasexual competition and sexual conflict. In collaboration with Dev Singh and Carin Perilloux, have also examined the bodily proportions (e.g., waist-to-hip ratio) men and women consider maximally attractive using a variety of methodologies, including the comparison of women depicted in Baroque-era paintings to present-day line drawings of the ideal male and female body types. Through these studies I have shown that beliefs of the ideal figure varied less across time than what would be expected if standards of beauty were culturally defined.
Together with my father, Mark Cloud, I’ve researched sex differences in romantic jealousy using a novel methodology that assessed behavioral outcomes rather than emotional distress. Moreover, we compared the patterns of sexual and emotional jealousy evoked by a partner’s heterosexual affair to those evoked by a partner’s homosexual affair to isolate circumstances that pose a relatively greater threat to one’s paternity or commitment certainty.
My primary area of interest is women’s status hierarchies, with a central focus on conspicuous/luxury consumption as one method women use to jockey for status. To date, conspicuous consumption has been primarily studied as mate-attraction tactic used by men. I intend to broaden the knowledge base concerning what motivates women to conspicuously consume by identifying the interpersonal benefits accrued by women who display cues indicative of high status.