Preferred and actual mate characteristics

From Preferred to Actual Mate Characteristics: The Case of Human Body Shape
The way individuals pair to produce reproductive units is a major factor determining evolution. This process is complex because it is determined not only by individual mating preferences, but also by numerous other factors such as competition between mates. Consequently, preferred and actual characteristics of mates obtained should differ, but this has rarely been addressed. We simultaneously measured mating preferences for stature, body mass, and body mass index, and recorded corresponding actual partner's characteristics for 116 human couples from France. Results show that preferred and actual partner's characteristics differ for male judges, but not for females. In addition, while the correlation between all preferred and actual partner's characteristics appeared to be weak for female judges, it was strong for males: while men prefer women slimmer than their actual partner, those who prefer the slimmest women also have partners who are slimmer than average. This study therefore suggests that the influences of preferences on pair formation can be sex-specific. It also illustrates that this process can lead to unexpected results on the real influences of mating preferences: traits considered as highly influencing attractiveness do not necessarily have a strong influence on the actual pairing, the reverse being also possible.


Anonymous said...

Women who are too thin aren't fertile and cannot bear very many healthy children. A lot of the ultra-thin models these days look like young men, not healthy fertile women.

In the past women used to gorge themselves on nutrient-dense, high-fat foods prior to marriage, during pregnancy, and especially while trying to conceive because they noticed that they children they had under that diet were much healthier than those born during the lean times. This practice still exists in some cultures.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the ultra-thin models these days look like young men, not healthy fertile women.

That's because many in charge of selecting models are gay men, who find young males more attractive than fertile women.

In addition medical science has increased the survivability and fecundity of narrow-hipped and less fertile women, just like it has vastly increased the third world population. Eugenics is not just elitism it's necessary to counter balance this effect.

n/a said...

Obese women are less fertile as well. I'd also draw a distinction between slender and skinny. I like women of somewhat linear type, but not women with unhealthily low body fat.

Anonymous said...

The same analysis conducted for women nonsmokers showed no association. The authors concluded that for women who achieve a clinically detectable pregnancy, those who are underweight or obese require a longer time to conceive only if they also smoke.

If you're smoking while trying to get pregnant you shouldn't be having children anyway.

The only women I've ever seen smoke while pregnant were Hispanic women.

Silver said...

Eugenics is not just elitism it's necessary to counter balance this effect.

Of course eugenics isn't "just" elitism. It isn't even prominently elitism. Eugenics, at heart, is eminently benign and eminently sensible social policy. This fact is obscured, however, by eugenics' most enthusiastic proponents who, sadly, do tend to be elitists -- a sentiment betrayed by the formulation of the quoted sentence, as one example. The impression thus given is that a eugenicist is necessarily obsessed with superiority per se rather than general social amelioration over time. Because such misunderstanding is rampant I would argue that eugenicists face no more important a task than framing eugenic policy in terms of what it can do for the people and explicitly downplaying what eugenicists believe it can do for eugenicists (which is "help them feel better about the future," when you get down to it).

It's like average men resenting a man with an impressive physique taking his shirt off at the beach. Every other guy gets to take his shirt off and no one thinks anything of it because that's just what you do at the beach. If a lean and muscly man does it, however, he's "only doing it to show off." He may be doing it to show off, but he has the right to take his shirt off too. Similarly, eugenicists may advance eugenics because they think they'll benefit from being considered "superior" (either personally or, through their race, vicariously) but they may also advance it because they believe it will improve society at large. The suspicion that the sole motivation is the former is so powerful that eugenicists can almost never do enough to atone for it yet its essential that they try. (For example, that crackpot Mangans poster "Cornelius Troost," a bag over his head and toss him off a high bridge, the tiresome babbler.)