Thursday, September 23, 2010

Annals of Obvious: College Guys
Would Prefer to Bang Hot Chicks

According to an article in yesterday's Daily Texan, "Science says men like shapely ladies." To wit, David Lewis, one of (surprise, surprise) David Buss's graduate students offered this explanation of a research article published this month in Evolution and Human Behavior:
"I would say that a male strategy of searching for cues to immediate fertility in a potential short-term mate, and cues to long-term reproductive value in a long-term mate, would have been favored by natural selection."
Well thanks for that lesson in evolutionary psychobabble, David. I think what you mean is that what men want for short-term sex is, you know, a phat ass while what they look for in a long-term mate is a lady in the street but a freak in the bed (apologies to Ludacris).

Here is what the study actually measured. I know because I read the whole thing.

A mere 381 University of Texas students, 194 male, 187 female, were asked to look at a single picture that was covered up by two boxes: a face box and a body box. When the dudes (whose average age was 18.85, SD=1.29) were told to consider whether the gal would be suitable for a one night stand, more of them uncovered the body whereas when told to look for a 'long term committed relationship' more bros uncovered the face. The conclusion? 18.85 year old dudebros, when forced to choose one or the other, look at a girl's body if they want to fuck her.

Evolutionary psychology has the most hilariously narrow definition of "health" and "attractiveness" that it shouldn't surprise anyone that, as usual, they are providing evidence for something that sells magazines (hot models) but does not really play out in real life (men having the opportunity to fuck hot models). Their claims of how tall/hot/thinness indicates health:
Health-correlated cues of reproductive value [future reproductive potential] can be conveyed through both the face and the body. Pocked-marked facial skin, for example, reveals a history of disease (Buss, 1994), while increased leg length is correlated with a multitude of health benefits: lower risks of cardiovascular disease (Gunnell, Whitley, et al, 2003), diabetes (Davey Smith et al, 2001) and cancer (Gunnell, May, et al, 2003). Finally, age-dependent cues also related to reproductive value, such as taut facial skin and firm breasts (Symons, 1979) can be diagnosed through a woman's face and body.(p 349)
Hear that ladies? All those chick mag articles about how tall skinny people aren't healthy are LIES. So keep buying that foundation and keep working out. And if you're short? Guess you have no value.

While the authors include in their discussion the caveat that, because the sample was all college students, this research should be replicated with a more diverse population so women can feel like they aren't good enough for a wider variety of men, not just college dudebros, they don't acknowledge the huge limitation of only working with 17-20 year old college kids. In my experience, the vast majority of college guys haven't had much experience with short OR long term 'mating,' and many college students, despite their reports to the contrary, are really just interested in short-term sex. "Long term," in a college relationship, could mean two weeks.

For the record, this is a real study that was published in a real journal.
"More than just a pretty face: men's priority shifts toward bodily attractiveness in short-term versus long-term mating contexts."
Jaime C. Confer, Carin Perilloux, David M. Buss
Evolution & Human Behavior - September 2010 (Vol. 31, Issue 5, Pages 348-353, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.04.002)

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