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August 31, 2005

Evolutionary Psychology Offers Clues To Mating Behavior

Interesting article from LA Times confirms that men and women are more alike than we thought, but our biology continues to drive us to behave slightly differently. A few of the more interesting findings:

Although men consistently prefer looks over all other factors when choosing a partner, women will also go for the good-looking guy...if it's just an quick fling. But when it comes to choosing a mate, both sexes start to take other factors into account:

For one-night stands and affair partners, both women and men sought physical attractiveness above all else.

For long-term mates, the expected sex differences emerged: Men kept preferring attractiveness, and women opted for social status, as well as warmth and trustworthiness. But after their minimum requirements for these necessities were met, both sexes chose well-rounded partners over those with the very best looks or the highest status.

Men don't really like smart, successful women...for mates:

It is also true, Li said, that very smart and successful women will have a harder time finding partners. "It seems that men want somebody intelligent enough so that they can recognize the man's brilliance," he said, "but not necessarily enough to challenge them — or so smart that they find someone else more interesting."

Another recent study, by Stephanie L. Brown of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and Brian P. Lewis of Syracuse University in New York, suggested that men prefer long-term relationships with subordinates rather than co-workers or supervisors. By contrast, women showed no significant preference for socially dominant men.

The reason for this result, Lewis hypothesized, is that men think they would "have more control over the behavior" of female subordinates, including being able to ensure female monogamy, and thus the paternity of any children. "Female infidelity is a severe reproductive threat to males only when investment is high," as it is in long-term relationships, the authors write.

While women can be snobby about a man's financial status:

John Marshall Townsend, professor of anthropology at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, says that women's status requirements often complicate their search for a mate. Townsend showed a group of female medical students, law students and professionals pictures of men dressed in different ways — wearing, for instance, a fast-food uniform or a designer suit and Rolex watch. He also gave participants descriptions of each man's social status.

The results were decisive. "Here's Mr. Hottie, but if he's in the wrong costume, and given the wrong status description, then she won't go out with him, much less go to bed with him or marry him," said Townsend. "You could put Cary Grant in a Burger King outfit, and he looks dorky."

If women do occasionally date "down" in terms of social status, Townsend said, "that would be out of desperation."

By contrast, he says, men are likely to date any physically attractive woman. When it comes to marriage, "guys are not completely insensitive to social class," but, he said, they're "not looking for socioeconomic gain."

Whether or not you buy off on these observations, they do rather make sense from an evolutionary standpoint. If you're going to have a one-night stand, maximizing on attractiveness, at least in theory, would ensure a healthy partner with prime physical qualifications to be passed on to offspring, while for a female, choosing a man who is responsible, warm and caring gets her a father who will care for her and their children.

For the man, not picking a woman who will cheat on him makes sure the children he is out clubbing saber-toothed tigers for are, at least, his own and hopefully the little woman will be properly appreciative when he drags that Mastodon steak home at the end of the day.

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

Posted by Cassandra at August 31, 2005 09:00 AM

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Comments

Cross species feeding? How trendy. My brood prefers buffalo wings.

It is so funny to see them comparing the size of their clubs...

Posted by: Cricket at August 31, 2005 10:35 AM

Cross species feeding? How trendy. My brood prefers buffalo wings.
Posted by: Cricket at August 31, 2005 10:35 AM

Y'know, I could never figger out why such a big animal has such teeny, tiny wings...

Posted by: camojack at August 31, 2005 01:10 PM

Yes, I have often wondered if the T Rex was really the ancestor of the buffalo. The things I can learn from Darwin!

Posted by: Cricket at August 31, 2005 01:23 PM

The buffalo wings are small because they are vestigial, rather than functional, body parts. Kinda like nipples on a man:)

Posted by: a former european at August 31, 2005 05:00 PM

You guys are the best, you know that?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 31, 2005 05:05 PM

Cricket:
T. Rex; the musician?
(Ducking & running)

a former european:
I suspected as much.

Cassandra:
Yeah, we know...but thanks for noticing.

Posted by: camojack at August 31, 2005 05:19 PM

afe...oh helk. I am laughing too hard. Camo, I delight in your abilities.

Has Cass blogrolled you yet?

Cass, I return the compliment.

Posted by: Cricket at August 31, 2005 09:39 PM

So does this mean I'm forgiven for my occassional rants?:)

Posted by: a former european at September 1, 2005 02:46 AM

Hee hee! Yes, Cass has... :-)

Posted by: camojack at September 1, 2005 03:44 AM

"It seems that men want somebody intelligent enough so that they can recognize the man's brilliance," he said, "but not necessarily enough to challenge them — or so smart that they find someone else more interesting."

To be quite honest, I never realized that we analyzed the situtation so deeply. I just thought we said, "Hmm, she's hot enough I guess. Let's get it on."

Posted by: KJ at September 1, 2005 10:01 AM

Yes, afe :)

See? This is why I wait every morning for KJ's comments - my snark meter is now pegged.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2005 11:24 AM

The buffalo wings are small because they are vestigial, rather than functional, body parts. Kinda like nipples on a man...

Which begs the question, are male buffalo wings considered to be an erogenous zone?

*running away*

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2005 11:28 AM

I couldn't say, Cass. I've never fondled a buffalo. I would think it was somewhat dependent upon the skill and creativity of the lady buffalo (cue the Barry White/Marvin Gaye music, translated into buffalo of course):)

Posted by: a former european at September 1, 2005 02:33 PM

Hm. I wonder if the winged buffalo died out because other parts were vestigial too?

Posted by: Darwin's Argument at September 1, 2005 03:37 PM

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