LEICESTER, England, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Regardless of the circumstances, women who prefer physically formidable and dominant mates -- PPFDM for short -- also tend to feel more vulnerable to crime.
Psychologists have theorized that females who grow up in high-crime areas tend to place a heavy emphasis on security, and thus are more attracted to physically dominant men. Now, researchers at the University of Leicester have shown the correlation between fear of victimization and PPFDM is widely prevalent.
Even when a woman's actual risk of victimization is low, those with a strong PPFDM feel more at risk.
Researchers had groups of women experience in a variety of social experiments testing their perception of a range of threatening and friendly settings and circumstances. Participants also completed a survey designed to measure PPFDM.
Two tests, in the lab and the field, exposed women to images or real situations depicting varying risks of crime, including male- and female-perpetrated physical assault and robbery, and male-perpetrated rape. The women were asked to rate their perceived risk of victimization.
The experiments' results -- detailed in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior -- suggest changing circumstances and threat levels have little influence on PPFDM.
"PPFDM appears to be associated with women's self-assessed vulnerability," study author Hannah Ryder, a PhD researcher at Leicester, said in a press release. "Women with strong PPFDM feel relatively more at risk, fearful, and vulnerable to criminal victimization compared to their counterparts, regardless of whether there are situational risk factors present."
"Our research suggests that the relationship between feelings of vulnerability, as measured by fear of crime, and women's preference for physically formidable and dominant mates is stable, and does not update according to environmental circumstances or relative level of protection needed," Ryder added.