Friday, August 11, 2006

What's Exotic is Erotic

If 90% of the people on this planet sport the usual primate pattern of dark hair and dark eyes, then why do some people come in paler shades?

Consider a simple experiment:
Place a photo of a fair skinned redhead with blue eyes among 3 photos of brunettes who have darker skin and brown eyes. Place that same redhead among larger crop of brunettes. Is the same woman rated more attractive when she's seen with a larger number of brunettes?

Yes, that's exactly what happened when Thomas Thelen conducted the experiment. He found the reverse too - when the brunette was rare, she was more attractive.

Sexual selection, in addition to natural selection, provides a mechanism by which organisms can change over time. Sexual selection involves two parts: 1) outcompeting same-sex rivals for mates and 2) being selected as a mate - often in that order.

So, what's exotic is erotic.

A Persian immigrant in a sea of Scandanavian blonds will be able to attract attention away from her fair haired rivals, all other things being equal.

Those other things?
Healthy skin & hair, symmetrical face and body, hourglass shape, and - KINDNESS!

For all of the EP talk about the importance of physical beauty for women in the mating game, we rarely hear about personality.

Personality goes a long way.

What do you think this "rarity principle" has to say about the evolution of personality?


Alasdair said...

That Allah loves wondrous diversity...

Holly said...

Yeah, evolution favors the odd - and beetles.