• Men’s preference for certain body types has evolutionary roots

    A study published in Evolution and Human Behavior sheds new light on current standards of beauty, attributing modern men preferences towards women with a raised and curvy rear to prehistoric influences.

    From the University of Texas report:

    “What’s fascinating about this research is that it is yet another scientific illustration of a close fit between a sex-differentiated feature of human morphology — in this case lumbar curvature — and an evolved standard of attractiveness,” said the study’s co-author David Buss, a UT Austin psychology professor. “This adds to a growing body of evidence that beauty is not entirely arbitrary, or ‘in the eyes of the beholder’ as many in mainstream social science believed, but rather has a coherent adaptive logic.”

    This research, led by UT Austin alumnus and Bilkent University psychologist David Lewis, consisted of two studies. The first looked at vertebral wedging, an underlying spinal feature that can influence the actual curve in women’s lower backs.

    About 100 men rated the attractiveness of several manipulated images displaying spinal curves ranging across the natural spectrum. Men were most attracted to images of women exhibiting the hypothesized optimum of 45 degrees of lumbar curvature.

    “This spinal structure would have enabled pregnant women to balance their weight over the hips,” Lewis said. “These women would have been more effective at foraging during pregnancy and less likely to suffer spinal injuries. In turn, men who preferred these women would have had mates who were better able to provide for fetus and offspring, and who would have been able to carry out multiple pregnancies without injury.”

    The second study addressed the question of whether men prefer this angle because it reflects larger buttocks, or whether it really can be attributed to the angle in the spine itself.

    Approximately 200 men were presented with groups of images of women with differing buttock size and vertebral wedging, but maintaining a 45.5-degree curve. Men consistently preferred women whose spinal curvature was closer to optimum regardless of buttock size.

    “This enabled us to conclusively show that men prefer women who exhibit specific angles of spinal curvature over buttock mass,” said the study’s co-author Eric Russell, a visiting researcher from UT Arlington.

    This morphology and men’s psychological preference toward it have evolved over thousands of years, and they won’t disappear over night.

    “This tight fit between evolutionary pressures and modern humans’ psychology, including our standards of attractiveness, highlights the usefulness that an evolutionary approach can have for expanding our knowledge not just of the natural sciences, but also the social sciences,” Lewis said.

    Can’t wait to see how politically correct fascists will deploy all of the the fallacies arsenal to label the researchers as members of a misogynistic conspiracy. (And yet it moves!)

    (via Radarcillo | image: Jade via photopin (license))

    Category: PhilosophySkepticism


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • jjramsey

      Can’t wait to see how politically correct fascists will deploy all of
      the the fallacies arsenal to label the researchers as members of a misogynistic conspiracy.

      Unnecessary. All that’s really needed is to point out (1) that this is a single study and (2) that there is a phenomenon called the decline effect, where effects purported demonstrated in a single study are often shown to be weaker or even nil in later studies. It’s when multiple studies point in the same direction that one is likely seeing a real effect.

      • Agreed, but it is of some interest that the politically correct pushback has already begun.

      • Except for the part where you missed the whole “growing body of evidence” thing

        • jjramsey

          There’s a huge difference between a “growing body of evidence that [one’s perception of] beauty is not entirely arbitrary,” and a growing body of evidence that men have a preference for a certain spinal curvature and that this preference is due to evolution. So far, there seems to be just a single study for the latter, and one should always be cautious about a single study, period.

    • ncovington89

      PZ Myers recently wrote something on this, and it does look like the logic undergirding this is questionable. That said, I think there certainly are things like this that are true (the waist-to-hip ratio, where men prefer an hourglass shape, is a famous one).

      • Wouldn’t know. Won’t go to Pharyngula, nor discuss its content as something relevant.

        If any serious scientist has something to say, I’m sure it won’t be as a part of an ideologically driven agenda

        • ncovington89

          I’m no PZ worshipper, I disagree with him on plenty. However, I think as far as what he says on this particular topic he has made some valid points, or at least some points that deserve response.

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