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How Women Pick Mates vs. Flings

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
How Women Pick Mates vs. Flings Abigail W. Leonard
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com
Tue Jan 2, 12:10 PM ET



Science might be able to explain our fascination with Brad Pitt's chiseled jaw and George Clooney's smoldering eyes.


Women seem to judge potential mates by how masculine their features are, new research shows. Men with square jaws and well-defined brow ridges are seen as good short-term partners, while those with more feminine traits such as a rounder face and fuller lips are perceived as better long-term mates.


In the study, 854 male and female subjects viewed a series of male head shots that had been digitally altered to exaggerate or minimize masculine traits. The participants then answered questions about how they expected the men in the photos to behave.


Overwhelmingly, participants said those with more masculine features were likely to be risky and competitive and also more apt to fight, challenge bosses, cheat on spouses and put less effort into parenting. Those with more feminine faces were seen as good parents and husbands, hard workers and emotionally supportive mates [compare examples].


Despite all the negative attributes, when asked who they would choose for a short-term relationship, women still selected the more masculine looking men. Brad and George then would be picks for a brief romance, if not the long haul.


Makes sense


The study, detailed in the December issue of the journal Personal Relationships, reached conclusions similar to research published earlier last year in Britain.


The new study's author, Daniel Kruger at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, said that from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense women would view more masculine-looking men as potential flings and less masculine-looking ones as long-term partners.


The key, he said, is testosterone, the hormone responsible for development of masculine facial features and other secondary sexual characteristics.


Testosterone is necessary for development, but can also have detrimental health effects. It has been shown, for example, to interfere with the body's immune response, so men who are able to maintain high levels of the hormone are typically strong and healthy—traits women would want to pass on to their progeny.


Increased testosterone has also been linked to male cheating and violence in relationships, so while these men might produce high quality offspring, they don't always make great parents or faithful mates, Kruger says.


The study suggests women could be equipped to use seemingly superficial characteristics "as a cue to pick up on trends in these behavioral strategies," Kruger said.


Get a clue


There are plenty of these signals in the animal world. Male peacocks' huge, outrageous tails can make foraging for food and evading predators difficult, but the plumage, which many researchers say indicates male fitness, is so effective at luring females that the trait has been preserved in the population, Kruger points out.


While the findings are compelling, the scientific community has typically greeted the field of physiognomy, which links facial characteristics to certain behavioral traits, with skepticism.


Kruger argues, however, that the research is a valuable tool for understanding mating strategies. And, of course, for explaining how Pitt and Clooney managed to snag People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title two times each—it might have to do with their genes, but could also have something to do with ours.
post #2 of 13
Didn't Mensimageconsultant post this or something very much like it a while ago?
post #3 of 13
I wonder why it is that physiognomy is met with such skepticism, its not like it’s our current day phrenology? Although the main topic of the article relates little to physiognomy and more to anthropology if they just dig a little past the surface (no pun intended). In recent years there have been a rash of these articles detailing how the “square jaws” no longer have the dominance when attracting the fairer sex. The reprise of the Nerd as it were, since they would most likely be able to afford what it costs to make a woman happy. I think its a principle illustrated in men by looking at the playmates of the past 50 years. (Sorry, I don’t have the link att.) You can see the changes in what is considered sexy in a plausible mate. Same with art, Rubenesque is not on par with contemporary attractiveness to most but back when Paul was painting them they were all the rage.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nantucket Red
Didn't Mensimageconsultant post this or something very much like it a while ago?
If he chopped down a tree in the woods, would it make a sound?
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rome
If he chopped down a tree in the woods, would it make a sound?

The sound of one hand clapping?
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nantucket Red
The sound of one hand clapping?

I can clap with one hand, but it looks pretty retarded.
post #7 of 13
What I am getting from this is that women find some soft dude to marry then cheat on him with the pool guy in order to get his genes. Nice.

Secondly, I wonder if different races were included in this study. If full lips is a feminine trait that would rule out all black men.
post #8 of 13
Money beats any "squared, chiselled jaws" anyday.

Real money or the illusion of money is what attracts women.
Power comes a close second.

The combination of money and power, now that's just unstoppable.
post #9 of 13
Probably. It definitely wasn't news to the company. It is good to see the information on network news, though.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by texas_jack
What I am getting from this is that women find some soft dude to marry then cheat on him with the pool guy in order to get his genes. Nice.

Secondly, I wonder if different races were included in this study. If full lips is a feminine trait that would rule out all black men.

Facial masculinity or feminity is an aggregate. Full lips alone won't make a face feminine-looking.
post #11 of 13
Research like this is a waste of money imo. Assuming it's all true, what will knowing this change?
post #12 of 13
Scientifically speaking a change in prospective mates changes the future outcome of the species since the presence of a paradigm shift in trait dominance. But as a consumer it’s really easy to see how the female perception of “masculinity + attractiveness” would change how we shop. Time to break out the six-sided dice and the Weezer t-shirts.
post #13 of 13
This must be why Brad Pitt is so popular. He has both masculine and feminine features. A large jaw and muscular body with soft eyes and full lips.
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