What would James Bond do? Signaling and precarious manhood
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] In five studies, we investigate the connection between precarious manhood, signaling, and the mate-choice behavior of men. Specifically, we propose that manhood (as a reputation or status) is a tenuous social construct. This because it signals value to a coalition of other men who vigilantly assess each other's traits. This vigilance compels men to continuously signal their social value to other men (to "prove" their manhood). There are sundry behaviors and objects that can be used as signals such as extreme risk taking or ownership of conspicuous luxury goods. We propose that a man's putative mate can serve as one such effective signal of his underlying value as a coalitional member and, therefore, men should flaunt attractive women to other men, especially when their masculinity is threatened. Gender threatened men should also prefer women who possess traits stereotypically desired by masculine men relative to nonthreatened men. Finally, men should alter their decisions based on the feedback of male conspecifics. We test these proposals in a series of five studies and find partial support for our theory of precarious manhood and signaling.