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MeghanRose

ANTH535
15December2015

MateSelectionandSexualSelectioninHumans:
TheWhat,How,andWhyofIt
Introduction
Manywithinourownspeciesliketoargueonalllevelsthatweareuniqueamongother
mammalsororganismswithwhomwecoexist.Thegreatdebatesthatarestillhappeningabout
whenthegenus
homo
beganandwhattraits(physicalandcognitive)trulysignifiesourgenus
andwhoweareasapeopleareevidenceofthis.Thesamethoughtswerebehindthedebatesof
manastoolmakerandthatsomehowweareuniqueamongtheotherorganismsandprimates
especiallyuntilwerealizedthatotherprimatesalsomakeandusetools.Thepointbeing,that
muchresearchcenteredaroundushumansasaspeciesisfocusedonwhatmakesusunique
amongsttheothers.Muchresearchisperformedonourcognitiveabilitiesandthelack(or
seeminglylack)oftheseabilitiesamongotherspecies.Asresearcherscontinuealongtheir
journeyforanswersthathelpusexplainourselves,wearealsofindingoutthatwemaynotbeas
uniqueasweoncethought.Theideathataprimateotherthanourselvescouldpossessatheoryof
mindaboutotherswithinthegroupmayhaveappearedunrealisticinthepast,butasourresearch
onourselvesprogresses,sodoestheresearchonourprimaterelatives.Whatarewefinding?We
arenotasdifferentanduniqueaswemayhaveoncebelieved.
Inthisessay,Iwillfurtherthisideathatwearealsoatthemercyofourevolutionary
drivesandinstinctsmuchlikeotherorganismsappeartobe.Wemayhavemorecontrolover

howwedecidetoreacttotheseinstinctualpushesandpullsorhowcultureshapesourreactions
tothesedrives,buttheyarestillpresentwithusinoureverydaylivesandacrosscultures.Iwill
befocusingonideasofsexualselectionandmateselectioninhumansbyfirststartingoffwith
generaltrendsinthenonhumanaspectoftheanimalworldwhichwillthenleadtowheresome
ofthesimilaritiesanddifferencesliewithhumansasananimalspeciesinregardstomate
selectionasidefromculture,endingwithsomeexplanationsasforwhywedothethingswedoin
regardstomatingandwhywechoosethemateswedo,allinthecontextoftheevolutionary,
instinctual,andprimaldrivesthatstillexistinourbrainsandbodiestoday.Thenotionisthatwe
maynothaveasmuchcontrolovertheattractivenessofwouldbematesaswemaythink
becausethesefactorssurpassourculturesandsocialstructuresastheyhavebeenpresentwithus
sinceourbeginnings.Thisessayisbynomeansmeanttobeanexhaustivelistofhowhumans
findandsecurematesorwhatisattractiveinamatefromeitherperspective,norisitmeantto
takeintoaccounthowculturemayplayapartinmateselection.Inordertoassessthetrue
biologicalandevolutionaryforcesthathelpusdecidewhothebestmateis,wemuststripthe
greatestvariablehumanspossessincomparisontootherspecieswhichisculturetobeableto
discusstrendsthatarepresentintheabsenceofculture.

MateSelectionandSexualSelectionintheNonHumanAnimalWorld
Someofthebestwaystogoaboutseeinghowhumansaredifferentinthethingsthatwe
doinordertosurviveandaccomplishourgoalsinlifeistolookathowthesethingsare
typically,butbynomeansstrictly,conductedandachievedintheanimalkingdomthatis
outsideoftherealmofbeinghuman.Thisholdstruewiththisdiscussionaswell.Wecanlookto
theanimalkingdomtodiscussandanalyzethewaysinwhichmatesarechosen,acquired,and

eitherkeptlongtermoronlyusedforashortamountoftimewithaspecificpurposeandfor
whatreasonstheseorganismsdothethingsthattheydo.
Intherealmofnotbeinghuman,thereexistmanygeneralitiesinthewaysinwhich
individualsobtainmatesforreproductionandhowtheseactionsinfluenceotherswithinthe
specieswhichmanifestthemselvesoutwardlyasattractivetraitsinordertokeepthefeedback
loopmovingthatis,sexualselectionthroughthechoicesmadeduringmateselection(Geary,
2004).Typically,withinthenonhumananimalkingdom,weseecompetitionbetweenmalesofa
speciesthatarevyingforfemalesinordertogettheattentionofsaidfemaleswiththegoaland
intentionofreproducing(Geary,2004).Malesaremoreoftensexuallyreceptivethanfemales
whichleadstotheconundrumofalargegroupofsexuallyreceptivemalescompetingforasmall
poolofsexuallyreceptivefemalesthatarenotpregnant,nursing,orotherwisecannotbecome
pregnant.Becauseofthisintramalecompetitionthatisnearlyuniversalwithintheanimal
kingdom,weseedifferencesinthewayswhichmaleshavebeenabletochangetheir
appearancesinordertobetterpleasethefemalesortobetterphysicallycompeteforthefemales.
Thisleadsustothefactthatmanymaleswithinspecieswheremalemalecompetitionisvery
relevantexpressgreatsexualdimorphism(Jones,1995).Themalesmustbelargerinorderto
defeattheothermaleswhoarealsocompetingforthesamefemale.Competingmalesmayalso
strivetohavegreatplumeswithbeautifulcolortoattractfemales,suchasthepeacock.Orthey
maybeabletohavevibrantfeathersandperformloudandexposeddancesthatmayappearrisky
inordertopossiblyattractafemalematesuchasthebirdsofparadise.Manyothersuch
examplesexistwidelywithinthesecontexts.

Allorsomeofthesephysicalmanifestationstoattractfemalesmayseemcounterintuitive
forthefactthattheymayappeartohinderthesurvivabilityofthemales.Bylookingatthe
classicexampleofthepeacock,wemaythinkthatthelargerandbrighterthetail(whichthe
femalemaybemoredrawntoandwillingtomatewithamalethatpossessessuchatrait),the
moreatriskthemaleisforbeingeatenbyapredatorasheisveryvisibleandanescapemaybe
moredifficultwithsuchanappendage.Abirdofparadisewhoexposesitsbrightcolorsandwho
dancesandsingsveryloudlyintheopenmaybeputtingitselfonthedinnerplateofthepredator
thatisalwayswatching.Thegorillawhofightsincessantlytosecurehisfemalematesisputting
himselfatriskofbeingkilledormutilatedbythenextmalethatcomesalongwhoislargerand
whopossessagreaterabilitytofight.However,alloftheseseemingly(andsometimestruly)
riskybehaviorsallforprovisioningmatesareforapurpose.Thetraitsthemalespossessallows
thefemalestoassesswhoisthebestchoice.
Allofthesemateattractingandmatesecuringtechniquesandmanifestationsallowthe
femalestodecipherwhoisthehealthiestamongthebunchofwouldbesuitors(Jones,1995).
Thevastnessinsizeandcolorofthepeacocksplumeisasigntothechoosyfemalethatthis
maledevelopedhealthily.Thequalityofhisplumealsoallowsthefemaletoknowthathehas
greataccesstoresourcesandisnotsickbecausehehasenoughenergyleftovertobeableto
shunttheexcessenergyfromeverydaysomaticmaintenance,reproduction,andgrowthto
developinghistailforattractingmates.Whenthemalebecomesillordoesnotreceiveenough
nourishment,thequalityofcolorinhisplumedecreasesandhisvalueasahealthymatewhocan
passonsoughtaftertraitstooffspringdiminisheswhich,inturn,lowershisfitness.Atthispoint,
heisnolongeragoodorganismbecausehisfitnessisdecreasing.Thesamelogicappliestothe

malebirdsofparadisewhosefeathercolorsandabilitytoperformadanceforextendedperiods
oftimeisthewayinwhichtheyadvertisetheirhealthandstronggenesandalsopossibilityto
evadepredatorswhenthetimecomesbecausetheyarehealthyandstrong.Whenwelookatthe
malegorillawhoisthestrongestandmostsexuallydimorphicincomparisontofemales,wesee
thesamerulesapplyingwhereitallisanoutwardmanifestationofhishealthandhisabilityto
passthesetraitsontotheoffspringofthesuitorandthefemale(s)thatchoosehim.
Inspeciesthatdonotexhibitpolygamy,asmanyofthespecieswhichIusedfor
examplesdo,wemaynotseethesegreatdifferencesinsexualdimorphismasthecompetition
thatdrivesthesechanges(sexualselection)isnotaspresent,orisatleastminimalwhen
comparedtopolygamousgroups(Puts,2015).However,westillseeoutwardsignsofhealthto
helpmembersofthespeciesunderstandandaskwhoishealthiest,canprovisionandprovidethe
bestresources,andwhohasthebestgenestopassontoensurethesuccess,survivability,and
fitnessoftheoffspring?Wemayseetrendsorphysicalsignaturesthatarealsopresentinhumans
(whoarelesssexuallydimorphicthansomeotherprimatespecies)tohelpmembersdecidewho
thehealthiestindividualsare,suchas:symmetry,scent,theabilitytosecureresources,etc.(Puts,
2015)whichwillbeelaborateduponinmoredetailwhenwearriveatthediscussionofhow
humansfitintothissystem.
Femalesaremoreoftenthannotthesexwhodecideswhomshewillmatewithinany
species,assheholdsmostoftheriskinreproduction,especiallyiftherelationshipisshortterm
withlittletonohelpfromtheprogenitor(Buss,1989).Sheneedstoensurethesuccessofher
offspring,andthatallstartswithchoosingaqualitymate.Alongsidethemales,femalesinmany
specieshavephysicalwaysinwhichtoallowmalestheknowledgethatsheisfecund,muchlike

malesshowcasetheirhealth.Ifwelookatsomeprimatespecies,likethefemalechimp,wesee
thatwhensheisabletoconceive,herbuttocksandgenitaliabecomeenlarged,swollen,andpink
(Kramer,2004).Thisisalsocoupledwithpheromonestosecuretheknowledgeandattractthe
maletoher.Notallorganismssoblatantlyadvertisetheirfertility.Someorganismshavemuch
moresubtlewaysinwhichtoshowfertilityorwhereovulationmaybeverydifficulttodetect,
muchlikeinhumans.
Earlier,Idescribedhowtheanimalkingdomallowsforvariabilitywithinandbetween
specieswhenitcomestothewaysinwhichmatingselectionhappens.Wearespeakingin
generalitiesatthispoint,butIspokeearlierabouthowpolygamywithinaspeciesorgroup
affectssexualselectionasfarashowthemalespresentthemselvestofemalesandstandout
againstothermalesandhowtheyshowcasethetraitsthatthefemalesareseeking.Thereason
thatweseesomuchpolygamyintheanimalkingdomisduetothefactthatmostrelationships
betweenmalesandfemalesaresimplyforcopulationandthesakeofreproductionandare
shortterm(Geary,2004).Thisdoesnotholdtrueforallspecies,asmanyspeciesofbirdsare
mostlymonogamousalongwithmanyotherspeciesinthewild.Theideaisthatbecausethe
femaleisthechoosierofthetwoinvolvedinmatingandrelationshipsareshortterm,wedoseea
greatdealofsexualdimorphismandsexualselectionlargelyatplayandwhereassociatedtraits
canevolveratherquicklybasedonthepreferencesofthefemales.Aswillbediscussedinmore
detailbelow,weseeagreatdifferenceinhumansatthispointintermsoflengthofrelationship.
Muchiscenteredaroundthelikelihoodinpolygamousspeciesthatamothercanprovidefor
herselfandheroffspringalone.Ifthefemaleinanygivenspeciescannotmeettheseneeds,we
usuallyseelongertermrelationshipsbetweenthefatherandthemotherinwhichthese

relationshipsalsopayoffforthemalesasanincentivetohelpcarefortheoffspring(Geary,
2004).

WheretheDifferencesandSimilaritiesLiewithRegardstoHumans
Withabasestructureforwhatisgenerallypresentintheanimalkingdomintermsof
mateselectionandwhycertaintraitsaremoreattractivethanothers,wecannowbegintodiscuss
howhumansgoaboutmateselectionandifsexualattractivenessreallydiffersbetweenour
speciesandothers.Wewillnotbediscussingcultureasthepurposeofthisessayistohelpus
discernwhatisuniversallyfoundtobeattractiveinamateonlysofarastothinkaboutqualityof
genesandthephysicalandgenetichealthoftheindividual.Thediscussiononlyhasthepotential
tobecomeverymuddledandextendedifwetakeintoaccountculture,astherearenotmany
universalculturaltrendsaswemayhopetodiscussthebiologicaltrendsthatextendacross
culturesintermsofmateselectionandattractivenesswhichismanifestedthroughphysicalsigns
ofhealthandfertility(Jones,1995).

FemaleFemaleCompetitionforMates
Agreatdifferencethatweseeinhumanswhencomparingtootherspeciesisthefactthat
humanfemalescompetewitheachotherformatesalongsidemalescompetingwitheachother
forfemalemates(Brin,1996).Thismayseemabitoddwhenlookingbackattheanimal
kingdomwherethisdoesnotoccurwithnearlythefrequencyasitdoesinhumans.Because
femalescompetewitheachother,wemayexpecttoseesomesexuallyselectedtraitsvisiblein
humanfemalesmuchlikewedoinmalesofotherspeciesintermsofdisplayandbiological
representations.Hereweareabletolookattheshapeofthefemalebody.Wetendtoseea
preferenceamongstmenforwomenwhopossessbreast,hip,buttock,andthighfat(Geary,

2004).Thesecouldbesexuallyselectedtraitsthatallowamantobeattractedtoawomanwho
cancarryahealthypregnancyanddeliverchildrenefficiently(Geary,2004).Breastsespecially
havethegreatabilitytohavebeenasexuallyselectedandexaggeratedtraitbecausehuman
femalespossessbreaststhataremuchlargerthanneedbewhennotbeingusedfornursingand
evenlargerthanrequiredoffemalesofotherspecieswhiletheyarenursing.Astrongpreference
forfemaleswithmorebreastfatcouldhaveeventuallyledtothepresenceofoversizedbreastsin
ourspecieswhencomparedtootherspecies(Puts,2015).Wealsoseethismanifestedina
preferenceandhigherattractivenessrateoffemaleswithahiptowaistratioof0.7andisfound
tobedirectlyassociatedwithwomensfertility,aswewilldiscusslater(Geary,2004).
Alongwithdisplayingcertainfeaturestomeninordertofindasuitablemate,women
alsopossesstheabilitytodetectwhenotherwomenareovulating(Geary,2004).Thisisavery
keycomponentinthefactthatwomenparticipateincompetingformatesandwillbediscussed
ingreaterdetailwhenwediscusswomenssignsoffertilityandovulation,butitisworth
mentioninginthissectionasitplaysaroleinwomenscompetitionforandsecuringofmates.

MenasSubtlePeacocks
Wealsoseedifferencesinthewaysinwhichmenpresenttheirhealthanddesirablegenes
inhumans.Humanmendonotwalkarounddisplayingbrightcolorsorlargetailfeathers,but
theydohavesomesignalsthatallowfemalestoknowthattheyareagoodmatechoice,
biologically.Thephysicalattributesthatwomenfindattractiveinmenareindicatorsofthe
mansgeneticandphysicalhealth(Geary,2004).Whenlookingatwhattraitswomenfoundmost
attractiveinmen,weseeatrendwheretallerthanaverageheight,anathleticbutnottoo
muscularofabuild,a0.9hiptowaistratio,shouldersthataresomewhatwiderthanthehips,a

largesmilearea,largerthanaverageeyes,adeepvoice,prominentcheekbones(Geary,2004),
andacertainamountoffacialhair(Pincott,2010andDixson,2013)areallfoundtobemost
attractiveandallofwhicharegreatindicatorsofhealth.Thesetraitsallallowawomantobe
informedabouthisdiseaseresistance,lackofdiseaseduringdevelopment,andhiscurrent
physicalhealth.Wealsoknowthattestosteroneisanimmunosuppressant,sowhenamanhasa
deepvoice,muscles,andsufficientamountsoffacialandbodyhair,thatsendsamessagetothe
femalesaroundhim(Pincott,2010).Becauseheisabletohaveallofthattestosteroneinhis
bodytoformhismasculinitywhichmayhinderhisimmuneresponse,heisstillhealthyenough
andwithenoughaccesstoresourcesforsufficientnourishmentthathecanaffordtohavethe
immunesuppressingtestosteronethatleadstohisattractivephysicaltraits.Itisagreatsignofhis
biologicalandphysicalstrength.

SymmetryasaGuide
Continuinginthisdirectionistheideaofsymmetry.Theimportanceofthistraitisseen
instudieswheremenandwomenareaskedtoratetheattractivenessofaperson,onewhoisvery
symmetrical,theotherwhoisslightlynotsymmetrical.Thepersonwillalwayschoosethe
individualwhoismoresymmetrical(Gangestad,1993).Thisgoesbacktohowtraitsinmenare
goodindicatorsthattherewasalackofdiseaseduringdevelopment(Gangestad,1993),andthat
ispreciselywhatisatplayinthesymmetrytest.Notmanyanimalsarecomfortablewiththeidea
oftheiroffspringnotdevelopingastheyshouldandwouldbelesslikelytochooseamatethatis
lesssymmetricalthanotherswiththeriskthatitcouldlowerfitnessintheoffspring.Thismaybe
especiallytrueforfemalesinaspeciesastheyaretypicallytheoneswhodothechildcareand
thereforethechoosierofthetwosexes.However,itcouldbeequallyimportantforamale

findingamateasmenratephysicalattractiveness(withlessemphasisonsymmetryalone)higher
asanimportantattributethanwomendoformen(Geary,2004).Wealsoseethatthosewithless
symmetricalfacesandbodiestendtoexhibitgreateramountsofanxietyanddepression,more
minorphysicalproblems,lowerIQ,andlesssexualpartners(Geary,2004)allofwhichdoesnot
makeforthegreatestoridealmate.Theverystrongpreferenceforsymmetrypermeatesmore
thanjustthevisualrealm,butalsoispositivelycorrelatedwiththesmellsofthosewhomwefind
mostattractive,aswewilldiscussbelow.

OdorandPheromones
Somethingthatmaynotbeaseasilydiscernibletoushumansasfindingsymmetrymore
attractiveisourattunementtosmellandthepheromonesthatareputoffbyusandthosearound
usandwhatthosesmellscantellusaboutpotentialmates.Humans,alongwithmanyother
animalspecies,usepheromonestojudgethelikelihoodofanindividualbeingagoodmateand
alsotojudgefertilityinsomeinstances.Therehavebeenmanystudiesconducted,whichmaybe
referredtoastheTshirttests,thattesttheattractivenessofapersonbasedontheirscent.
Usually,thesestudieswillhavemendoingrigorousexercisewearingtshirts.Thesetshirtsare
thenpackageduptopreservethescentsandgiventowomentoratehowattractivethesmellsare.
Theseratingswerealsopositivelycorrelatedwithhowsymmetricalamanwas(Gregoire,2015).
Togoevenfurtherthanphysicalmanifestations,themenwhosesmellswereratedasmore
attractivebyawomenshowedgreaterimmunologicaldiversitythanthewomandoingtherating.
Thisisimportantbecauseafemalewilltypicallychooseamatethatexhibitsgreatergenetic
diversitywhencomparedtoher(Herz,2002).Thisisbecausethemoregeneticdiversitytheir
offspringhave,thegreaterchanceofdiseaseresistanceandabilitytorecoverfromdisease

throughoutthechildrenslives.Thisgeneticandimmunologicaldiversityispresentwithinthe
naturalsmellsofbodyodor.Theseresultstendedtobeslightlyskewedforwomenwhowere
ovulating.Overall,womenwhowerenotovulatingratedthesmellsofthemenwithmore
femininefeaturesasmoreattractive,andthosewhowereovulatingratedthemenwhohadmore
masculinefeaturesasmoreattractive(Pincott,2010andHerz,2002)thisisallbasedontheir
smellsalone.Thewomenwhowereatornearovulationareespeciallysensitivetothesmellsof
menspheromonesandthehealthimplicationsofthosepheromones.Thereasonsthepreferences
maychangewillbeexplainedbelow,butitisinterestingtofindthattheseovulatingwomencan
pickoutthemoremasculinemenjustbytheirscent!Womenaremoredrawntothephysically
andgeneticallyattractivementhroughtheirpheromones,andthispersistscrossculturally(Herz,
2002).
Wecanalsoseethishappeningontheotherendofthespectrumaswell.Theyhavealso
conductedstudieswherethewomenaretheonessweatinginthetshirtsandthemenarethe
oneswhoaresmellingandratingtheattractivenessofawomanbasedonhersmell.However,the
differenceinthisstudyisthatsomeofthewomenwereovulatingandsomewerenot.Basedon
thescentsandpheromonesofthewomenontheirshirts,themenratedthesmellsofthemost
symmetricalwomenasmoreattractive.Butevenmoreinteresting,theyratedthesmellsofthe
ovulatingwomenasmostattractive(Gregoire,2015).Therewassomethingdifferentaboutthe
waythatthesewomensmelledthatdrewthemeninthestudytofindthemasmoreappealing.
Thisisbiologyandevolutionatwork,helpingustofindthematesthataremostidealandwith
whomweareabletoreproduce(Geary,2004).

Wearealsoabletothinkabouttheemergenceofodorinanindividual.Itisnotuntilwe
arriveatpubertythatwebegintoproducethesekindsofbodyodors.Theabilityforan
individualtopickuponanothersodorandpheromonesisasignthatthepersontheyare
smellingissexuallymatureandreceptive,oratleastarrivingatthatstage(Herz,2002and
Geary,2004).Theemergenceofscentisasexualsignalthatarrivesalongwithmenarchein
femalesandmalepubertyaswell.

WomensFertilityandOvulation
Womenpromotetheirhealthphysicallytopotentialmatesmuchinthesamewaysasmen
do,asmentionedabove.However,itseemsthatmuchmorewhatwomenareadvertisingistheir
sexualmaturityandtheirfertilityortheirabilitytoconceive.Whenamanlooksatawomanasa
potentialmate,therearemanysignalsheissearchingfor,evenifhedoesnotrealizeit,from
cuesonorfromawomansbody.Crossculturally,menfindwomenthatpossessspecific
physicaltraitstobemostattractive.Theseincludeawaisttohipratioof0.7,facialfeaturesthat
signalacombinationofyouthandsexualmaturity,bodyandfacialsymmetry(withfacial
symmetrybeinglessimportanttomenasitistowomenbutwithbreastsymmetrybeingvery
importanttomen),andageasmenusuallychoosewomenyoungerthanthemasmarriage
partners.Allofthesetraitsworkingintandemprovidecuestoawomansfertilitywhichis
importantbecausemenusuallychoosewomenatpeakfertility,intheirmidtwenties,asmates,
whethertheybeshorttermorlongtermmates(Geary,2004).
Itisnotsimplythephysicaltraitsthatareconstantlypresentonawomanthatmaysignal
afemaleshealth,fertility,ormaturity.Weseecuesotherwise,muchaswedidinmales.In
males,thedeepvoicewaspreferredbywomanwhichsignaledhighertestosteronelevelsand

sexualmaturity(Dixson,2013).Forwomen,hervoicechangesthroughoutthemenstrualcycle,
becomingslightlyhigherinpitchduringpeakfertility(Gregoire,01/032015).Thischangein
pitchisnotonlydiscernabletomen,butitisactuallypreferredtomenbecausetheyaregivena
cuethatthiswomanissexuallyreceptiveandabletoconceive.Thesameholdstrueforthefact
thatduringovulation,womentendtoexhibitgreatersoftnessandroundnessoftheface,whichis
foundtobemoreattractivetobothsexesthanthefaceduringotherpointsinthemenstrualcycle
(Kramer,2004).Whilethesecuesmaybesubtle,theyaredetectable,andwhetherornottheyare
consciouslydetecteddoesnotmattersomuchasthattheyactuallyareperceived.
Theinterestingpointofthevocalandfacialchangeisthatotherwomencandetectthis
differenceinvoicepitchandfacialroundnessandsofteningaswell.Theabilityforwomento
senseanotherwomansfertilityiskeyforfemalefemalecompetitionwhichproliferatesinthe
humanspecies(Geary,2004).Ifafemalehastheabilitytoknowwhenotherfemalesarefertile,
shecanactinawaythatsuggestsmateguardingwhereshewillattempttolimitexposureofher
maletootherfemaleswhoarereceptiveand,therefore,moreenticingtohermaletolimit
infidelity.Awomanparticipatesincompetitionwithotherwomenforhermate(s)becausethe
demandforcompetentanddevotedmaleswhoaresuitableforpairbondingandfatherhoodis
highwhilethesupplyislimited.Thisisaforcethathelpsdrivethecompetition,evenoncea
femalehassecuredhermate(Geary,2004).
Onelasttraitthatmenfindveryappealingintheirfemalecounterpartsisthepresenceof
neotenyinphysicallyandsexuallymaturewomen(Dixson,2013).Signsofneotenyinwomen
includesomeofthecharacteristicsalreadymentionedthathelpsignifysexualmaturity,butin
thissense,thesecharacteristicsareworkinginadifferentmanner.Womenwhopossesstraits

suchaslessbodyhair,morepetitefigure(whencomparedtomen),andhighvoicesarefoundto
bemoreattractivetomen(Brin,1996).Evenifweseeaboostinsomeoftheotherpreferred
sexualcharacteristicssuchaslargerbreastsorwiderhips,ifsomeexpressionofneotenyisnot
present,shewillfoundtobelessattractivetoherprospectivemate(s).Thepresenceofneoteny
mayhelpafemaleattractamatethatmeetsthedemandsofamalethatissuitablefor
pairbondingandfatherhoodasmentionedpreviously.Thatistosay,thesewomenareableto
attracttherighttypeofmalethetypeofmalegiventoprotectionandnurturingimpulses
towardstheirfemalemates,andsubsequentlytheiroffspring.Thishelpstoengenderfeelingsof
protectivenessandtendernessinsomemales.Themalesthatdoreactinthiswayarereinforced
byfemaleselectionofsuchmaleswhoaresubsequentlygeneticallyrewardedbybeingableto
produceoffspringwiththeirfemalemate(Brin,1996).

ShortTermMatingvsLongTermMating
AsIhavementionedthroughoutthisessay,womenaretypicallythechoosierofthetwo
involvedinmatingbecauseofthegreaterresponsibilityandriskshehasinacopulationthat
couldresultinapregnancy.Becauseofthis,womentendtoseekmenwhoaremoreintelligent,
haveaccesstoresources(whoareculturallysuccessful),kind,andprotective(Geary,2004).
Thereislessemphasisbasedonphysicalattractiveness,butitdoesstillplayalargerolein
decidingamate,asdiscussedabove.Whenspeakingintermsofwhatawomanlooksforina
mateinshorttermversuslongtermrelationships,wedonotstrongshiftsinappealingtraits
soughtafterinmen.Thatistosay,womentendtoseekmenwiththesametraitsasshortterm
partnersandalsomarriagepartners.

Wedo,however,seeagreatdifferenceinhowamalechooseshismatebasedonthe
perceivedlengthoftherelationship.Physicalattractivenessisratedasmuchmoreimportantfor
menwhentheyareseekingshorttermrelationshipsthanitisforfemales,whoarethechoosier
ofthetwo.However,asmenshiftfromseekingshorttermpartnerstomarriagepartners,sodo
theirstrategiesforfindingasuitablemate.Thecharacteristicssoughtafterinamarriagepartner
begintoreflectthedesiresofwomenseekingmarriagepartnerswheretheywantawomanwho
isintelligent,kind,etc.Menbeginseekingwomenbasedonpersonalitytraits(Geary,2004)
Thereasonforthisimpulsetobecomemoreselectiveisduetoamansshiftinthinking
whereheisnowthinkingabouthiscommitmentandriskinamoremonogamousreproductive
strategy(Geary,2004).Usually,intheseinstances,amaniswillingtodevotehisresources,time,
andenergyintohislongtermmateandheroffspring.Becauseheisputtingmoreriskand
investmentintotherelationshipthanmerelyseekingcopulation,hebecomesmoreawareand
selectiveofthewomanheischoosingasamate.
Whenweseetheshiftfromshorttermpartnerstolongtermpartnersinmales,wealso
begintoseeashiftinthewaysinwhichhetooparticipatesinmateguarding(Puts,2015).The
maleisevenmoreactiveinmateguardingthanthefemale(mentionedabove)becausethereis
alwaysthequestionofpaternity.Ifamancanlimitthechancesthatanothermalecanimpregnate
hisfemale,hewillbemorewillingtoinvestinhismateandheroffspring.Thisistosaythatmen
aremoreconcernedwithinfidelityintheirmatesbecausetheriskassociatedwithinvestingin
anothermansoffspringisgreat(Geary,2004).
Instanceswhenmateguardingcanbeatitshighestarewhenawomanisnotpregnant,
notmenstruating,orisayoungwifebecausealloftheseinstancesarechanceswhereamans

partnercanhaveextrapaircopulationsthatcouldresultinpregnancyfromamanotherthanher
partner.Thelikelihoodofafemaleparticipatinginextrapaircopulationsisevenhigherduring
ovulation(Geary,2004).Thisespeciallyholdstrueifwereferbacktothetshirttestswhere
womenwhowereovulatingfoundthescentsofmoremasculinelookingmenmoreattractive.
Studieshaveshownthat,whileawomanmaypreferamorefemininefeaturedmanwhensheis
notovulating,unlessherpartnerismoremasculinefeatured,shewillbemorelikelyto
participateinextrapaircopulationswithmenwhopossessmoremasculinefeaturesduring
ovulation.Thisimpulseisdrivenbythefactthatwomenbiologicallyseekheritablesignsof
healthwhicharemorevisibleinmasculinemen(Jones,1995).Followingthatlineoflogic,itis
understandablewhymenincommittedrelationshipsmayparticipateinmateguardingwhena
womanisathermostfertiletimes.Hedoesnotwanttoriskinvestingallresourcestoaprotegei
thatisnothis.

Conclusions
Throughoutthisessay,Ihaveledusthroughadiscussionaboutmateselectionandsexual
selectioninhumansandthedrivingforcesandresultsoftheseprocesses.Ibeganwitha
comparisontotherestofthenonhumananimalworldtoallowforsomeinsightintohowweare
notsounique.Iwentontoexplainsomeofthedifferencesweseeinhumansversusnonhuman
animalsinregardstocompetition,sexualattractiveness,andhowlengthofrelationshipcan
affectthewaysinwhichwechooseourmates.Wemaybelievewehavecontrolofouractions,
impulses,andmatechoices,butwearedrivenbythesameevolutionaryandbiologicalforces
thatdriveournonhumanprimaterelativesandthatdroveourhumanancestorsinthedistant
past.Muchofwhathasbeendiscussesisnotregisteredinourmindstothepointthatwe
know

whywechoosethemateswedo,whyinfidelitymayoccurinsomelongtermmonogamous
relationships,orwhyshemayhavebeenattractiveasashorttermpartnerbuttheinterestwanes
whenthinkingaboutherasalongtermpartner.
Becausewecanbecomeawareoftheseforcesandsubtlecuesthatourmatessendout,
wecanbegintounderstandtheextremeimportanceinhavingthesetraitsinamateinrelationto
ourancestorswholivedinanentirelydifferentandmuchriskierwayoflivingthanwedonow.
Thesetraitsmuststillholdsomeimportancetoourspeciesevennowbecausetheyhavepersisted
thislongintothepresent.Evenwithallthetechnologywehavetohelpcorrectormitigatesome
healthdefects,ourpaleowayofthinkingisstilltellingustochoosethematewiththegreatest
heritablehealthtraits,andtochoosethematethatwillshareresourcesandensurethesuccess
andfitnessoftheoffspring.

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