Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And men think we're just looking for a big package

Two different studies have confirmed that women know what they're looking for in a mate and know HOW to look for it in a mate.

One study showed that women could identify, simply by photographs of men's faces, those individuals who like children. They could also identify men with high levels of testosterone. This is less surprising, since testosterone produces the cut, square jaw and strong buccal muscles of action heroes.

When asked with whom they would prefer to have a short-term relationship, women tended to pick the high-testosterone males. ... The problem with testosterone-fuelled males is that they are less likely to remain faithful to their partners

By contrast, men who show an interest in children are also likely to make good partners, because they will care for their offspring. The study showed that women prefer these men for long-term relationships. Again, no surprise.

The surprise is this: some men were perceived both as masculine and as interested in children. From an evolutionary point of view, a trade-off between the two would have been predicted. That would produce what is known as an evolutionarily stable strategy in which the child-loving men father fewer babies to start with, but see as many live to maturity because they help to raise them rather than deserting the mothers.
So we tend to "know" whether men will be philanderers or diaper-changers just by looking at them.

Things get complicated, however, when we move past looking to courting. You may have heard before of tests where college women are asked to smell their male counterparts' unwashed undershirts and indicate which ones are from men they'd like to meet and of how that really relates to identifying the best immune system configurations? That, plus a lot of other interesting chemical cues are summarized in this article. A few interesting summary points:
Women can identify, by smell, men whose immune systems best compliment their own (making for the healthiest offspring).
  • BUT, when women are taking oral contraceptives, their oflactory sensors are faked out: they choose men who are least suited to them, immunologically.
  • AND when women are approaching ovulation, they are more attracted men whose traits are associated with high testosterone levels; at other times in their cycles they are more attracted to men who tend to be loving and monogamous. (Hence the number of "hook up" pregnancies in which the father isn't present at birth?)
  • AND women can interpret the cuddle-factor from oxytocin released during sex as bona fide love.
It is a complicated world in which we live. If you feel you were fortunate enough to choose a good life partner (or to reject bad ones!), then perhaps you should thank your senses, as well as your heart!


Blogger fuzzit said...

very facinating....i linked to you on my blog

2:00 PM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

This was VERY interesting...and the three bullet points really hit a bullseye, I think.


3:25 PM  

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