How to choose the right partner (tips for girls) // Konstantin Popadin ≪ Scisne?

The female only needs to look at the male's face in order to evaluate its main characteristics (photo from www.design.kyushu-u.ac.jp)

What signs do girls pay attention to when choosing a partner? From an evolutionary point of view, the most important are his health, which is determined by the quality of his genes, and his willingness to care for the offspring. But how to evaluate these important characteristics in advance? Recent work convincingly shows that girls are able to calculate these signs, looking for only a few seconds at a photograph of a man’s face.

Females, choosing a partner, should focus on the quality of its genes. According to the handicap theory (see When you can not choose males, you can choose children ), an informative measure of the quality of the genome can only be a trait that is harmful to survival. The more pronounced such a harmful trait, the better the genes of the carrier of this trait. For example, among peacocks, only a male with high-quality genes will be able to live to maturity with a long tail, which prevents him from flying away from predators. Thus, the selection of long-tailed males will guarantee a high level of quality genes. Signs such as horns, bright coloring of plumage, loud songs, make males more visible and more vulnerable to predators, so all these signs are a marker of the quality of genes.

By itself, the word handicap means a physical or mental disability that interferes with life. Hence, the sports term “handicap” is a type of competition when a weaker player is given some advantage over a stronger one. For example, in horse racing, extra weight is tied to a favorite horse to even out its chances of winning with the rest of the horses. In chess, an experienced player starts a game without several pieces (gives a head start), which is a handicap for him. The idea of ​​a handicap was also used by Demosthenes, when he learned to speak with pebbles in his mouth in order to spit them out to become a great orator.

What is the handicap of Homo sapiens males? To answer this question, British scientists ( BeBruine et al. 2006 ) showed girls pictures of young people, among whom girls had to choose the ones they liked the most. Here I propose to repeat this experiment and to all readers choose one of the two rows presented in the photo below - the bottom or top. Do not be embarrassed that all faces are somewhat similar - suppose they are all brothers. For the purity of the experiment, do not continue reading this note until you have made your choice. So, the bottom row or the top?

Photos from DeBruine et al. 2006

I congratulate 90% of readers on the right choice: young people from the bottom row should have fewer harmful mutations, and for most of the girls it seemed they were more attractive. What is special about them? They look more courageous, they have wider cheekbones, that is, they are more masculine (from the Latin. Masculinus "male"). All 6 submitted photos were obtained as a result of computer processing of one real photo. On the bottom row in three different ways increased masculinity (masculinity), and on the top - femininity (effeminate, from the Latin. Femina "woman").

So, the experiment says that masculine men have better genes. Why? For the development of secondary sexual characteristics, as well as the degree of masculinity in men, the hormone testosterone is responsible. If an increased concentration of this hormone increases attractiveness to the opposite sex, then, according to the concept of handicap, a high level of testosterone should be harmful to men. Indeed, an increased testosterone level has an immunosuppressive effect, making a man more vulnerable to many infections. However, despite this effect, men with high levels of testosterone are healthier (a medical study of this question is presented in an article by Rhodes et al. 2003 ).

The situation seems paradoxical, but in fact fully corresponds to the handicap concept - as is the case with the peacock tail, only those men who have very high immune defenses because of high-quality genes can afford to lower their level of immune protection. Men with low-quality genes will not be able to endure the negative effect of high testosterone levels and will be eliminated in the process of evolution, which will lead to the fact that low-quality genes will be associated only with low testosterone levels.

And what if a man with high-quality genes lowers his testosterone level? Then he will have excellent health, but this will not increase the number of his children, since such a man (with low testosterone levels) will not be sufficiently attractive to the opposite sex. So, it turns out that it is more profitable to spend a little health (increasing testosterone levels) to advertise your genes than to be very healthy, but without advertising.

What else, besides the quality of genes, do girls pay attention when choosing their partner? Unlike most animals, men tend to contribute to the care of their offspring. If one could assess in advance how well a man would take care of his children, then this would be very valuable information for girls. Does the feminine have the ability to evaluate the potential parenting qualities of a man?

To answer this question, scientists from the University of California ( Roney et al. 2006 ) photographed several men and conducted a psychological test with them, the purpose of which was to find out how badly they wanted to have children. It was assumed that if a man wants to have a child, then he will take good care of him. These men were also tested for testosterone levels. Then their photos showed the girls, who evaluated each photo in two ways: whether this man wants to have children and how attractive he is. Paradoxically, but a fact: girls, very well guessed the man’s desire to have a child! And the attractiveness of men correlated well with the level of testosterone. Only between these two signs, unfortunately, are inversely related.

So, girls need to optimize the choice of men in two ways - the quality of genes and parental qualities. However, this is not easy, since these characteristics are related to each other negatively - the better the genes (the higher the testosterone level), the worse the care for the offspring, and vice versa. In other words, more effeminate men often want to have children, but the genes are more qualitative in masculine ones. What to do? Turn again for help to evolution.

In the following experiment, scientists from the University of California ( Roney et al. 2006 ) asked the girls to characterize each photo in two ways: attractiveness from the point of view of a short-term romantic partner and attractiveness from the point of view of a long-term romantic partner. You probably already guessed that more masculine men were chosen for the role of short-term partners (that is, with higher-quality genes), but men who wanted to have a child were more often chosen for the role of good long-term partners (remember that looked only at their faces in the photo).

Moreover, a work that has not yet been published ( Jones et al. 2006 ) shows that women's preferences change radically during the menstrual cycle — masculine men seem more attractive in the ovulation stage, when there is a chance of fertilization of the egg, and in the remaining part of the cycle feminine men, more suitable for raising children.

So, looking at a photograph of a man’s face in just a few seconds, girls are able to evaluate its key characteristics. And what if they meet and talk for a couple of minutes? Probably, after that for the weaker sex there will be no unresolved issues.

1) DeBruine et al. 2006. Correlated preference for masculinity and masculinity ( Pdf, 460 Kb ) // Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B. 273: 1355-1360.
2) Roney et al. 2006. Reading men's faces; women testosterone Pdf, 160 Kb ) // Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B. Published online. doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2006.3569.
3) Jones et al. 2006. Effects of menstrual cycle. Submitted
4) Rhodes et al . 2003. Does human faces signal health? // Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B. (Suppl) 270: S93-S95.

Konstantin Popadyin

But how to evaluate these important characteristics in advance?
So, the bottom row or the top?
What is special about them?
And what if a man with high-quality genes lowers his testosterone level?
What else, besides the quality of genes, do girls pay attention when choosing their partner?
Does the feminine have the ability to evaluate the potential parenting qualities of a man?
What to do?
And what if they meet and talk for a couple of minutes?
2003. Does human faces signal health?

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