Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Women Make Trade-offs When Looking For A Man

There is no perfect man, a woman has to give up one quality if she wants more of another, just the kind of thing that economics would predict. That is one thing mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article Why Women Don't Want Macho Men: New research suggests that women from countries with healthier populations prefer more feminine-looking men. Here are some interesting exerpts:
"In countries where poor health is particularly a threat to survival, women leaned toward "manlier" men. That is, they preferred their males to have shorter, broader faces and stronger eyebrows, cheekbones and jaw lines."

"To a person unfamiliar with the field of evolutionary psychology, this may sound a little far-fetched. How is it even possible to link a woman's masculinity preferences to the health of her nation? The answer begins with the theory of sexual selection. It goes that women are the choosier sex because they take on most of the risk and burden of reproduction and child rearing."

"But what does health have to do with masculinity? The link is testosterone, the hormone behind manly muscles, strong jaws, prominent eyebrow ridges, facial hair and deep voices. Testosterone is immunosuppressive. This means a man must be healthy and in good condition to withstand its effects on his development. Testosterone is also linked to other traits related to strength: fitness, fertility and dominance."

"Masculinity, however, can come at a high price. Women often think of high-testosterone types as uncooperative, unsympathetic, philandering, aggressive and disinterested in parenting. In fact, there is evidence that they really do have more relationship problems than other men."

" with testosterone levels one standard deviation above the mean were 43% more likely to get divorced than men with normal levels, 31% more likely to leave home because of marital problems, 38% more likely to cheat on their wives, and 13% more likely to admit that they hit or hurled things at them."

"But if health comes at the expense of fidelity and good parenting, how much does masculinity really matter?

The apparent answer is not so much—if you're a woman living in a country with a decent health-care system and few harmful pathogens. While a masculine father's "good genes" may confer health advantages to children, so do good medical attention and a clean environment. In the Face Lab study, women with the weakest masculinity preferences tended to live in some of the healthiest countries."

"Women with the weakest masculinity preferences of all lived in Belgium, a country considered to have one of the best publicly funded health-care systems in Europe..."

"...women with the strongest masculinity preferences tended to hail from the countries with higher disease and mortality rates and some of the poorest scores on the health-care index..."

"...researchers found that a nation's health index explained more of the variation in women's masculinity preferences than did many culture-specific female norms..."

"Is it possible that modern medicine—and by extension modern life—inadvertently devalues masculinity?"

"As the social environment shifts, so may women's mate preferences. While Stone Age forces once wired women to associate strong cues of masculinity with their children's chance of survival, times are changing. The promise of improved health care in America could be one example of a shift.

Another is women's financial freedom. In 1970, women represented only 43.3% of women of the labor force, compared to 55.8% today. Moreover, the recession in America has been a tremendous blow to men in traditionally masculine jobs such as construction and manufacturing; 82% of job losses affect men."

" No longer as reliant on men's genes or jobs to ensure the health and wealth of their children, women may come to value other qualities in a mate. It may become evolutionarily adaptive to prefer men who are cooperative, communicative, caring and better parents over traditional "manly men.""

"...beautiful women (as determined by averaged ratings of eight teams of male and female interviewers) want it all in a partner: masculine, physically fit, loving, educated, desirous of home and children, a few years older than themselves and with a high income potential.

While exceptionally attractive (or wealthy) women may indeed capture this ideal male, most are forced by circumstance to settle for the best combination of traits. Some husband-seekers trade off masculinity for companionship and good parenting. Others forfeit compassion in exchange for wealth."

"To secretly have it all, some women adopt a "dual mating" strategy—marrying a solid, faithful guy and enjoying trysts with hunks. As a result, up to 10% of babies born in some populations have fathers who are presumed to be their biological dads but aren't."

" women's level of "resource control" increases—that is, they become more financially independent—their preference for good-looking men increases. So will it be considered progress if women start pursuing "metrosexuals"..."


Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting article.

Cyril Morong said...

Yes, it was. Thanks for dropping by and reading my blog.