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Why are humans attracted to good looking mates?

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  1. Oct 2, 2014 #1
    It may not be the general case but this is what it seems from experience. But what's the reason? Do looks indicate health or any other desirable characteristics?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2014 #2
    Because we possess a skill to evaluate and enjoy aesthetical subjects. This skill varies from person to person (e.g a tall handsome prince may have a bad looking wife or a beautiful princess may be deeply in love with an ugly hunchback).
     
  4. Oct 2, 2014 #3

    phinds

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    In humans, bodily symmetry, particularly exemplified by facial symmetry, is known to be a factor in mate selection, and the knowledge/assumption/whatever is that this is because it is taken as an indication of health and the likelihood to produce viable offspring.
     
  5. Oct 2, 2014 #4
    I din't get you. How is symmetry related to health?
     
  6. Oct 2, 2014 #5

    phinds

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    Don't know. Just repeating what I have read in several places over the years (and these were things like Time magazine, not scientific journals). It sounds reasonable to me, however.
     
  7. Oct 2, 2014 #6

    SteamKing

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    You don't think the guy or gal with one leg shorter than the other might have some other issues as well, like maybe some spinal problems?
    Sure, short legs can be corrected, but still ...

    That's not to say that someone who appears to be normal physically can't be crazier than a moonbat psychologically.
     
  8. Oct 2, 2014 #7

    phinds

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    HEY ... quit talking about me ! :w
     
  9. Oct 2, 2014 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    The biology underlying attraction is not well understood and you should keep in mind the cultural effect. It's not difficult to find examples of different societies (or even the same society at different times) with different standards of beauty, often quite different (small and not at all comprehensive example but compare the first Miss America in to the http://wallpaper.krishoonetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Nina-Davuluri-Img.jpg [Broken]). Point being that one should be very wary trying to find a biological/evolutionary explanation for something that varies so radically between individuals and cultures. Clearly the capacity for attraction is biological but how much of what we find attractive is learnt vs innate is a big question.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  10. Oct 2, 2014 #9
    Beauty means health. More chance offsprings will be healthy. That's one of the reasons I think.
     
  11. Oct 2, 2014 #10
    There's also this chicken-and-egg problem, because the very fact that your mate is attractive says a lot about the likelihood that your offspring will themselves manage to successfully acquire mates and produce their own offspring. So in a sense, their being attractive - whatever that means in one's cultural context - is enough of an evolutionary reason to be mated with, but of course the beginning of "attractiveness" as a feature of human beings needs explanation.

    Despite the caution urged by some other posters in this thread, there are some near-universals in standards of attractiveness. Bodily symmetry is one of those already brought out, but facial "averageness" is a more general and well-demonstrated standard that might cover that. Some things that usually make a person less attractive in many cultural contexts are also often signals of poor health/reproductive capacity - wrinkles and other signs of aging, having an unhealthy body weight, pale or diseased-looking skin, sparse or dull hair, and so forth. It's very clear that cultural norms have an incredible shaping effect on our attractiveness standards - and indeed, being able to signal assimilation by conforming to those norms might also be a signal of social intelligence. But if anything about human nature suggests evolution, our standards of attraction do.
     
  12. Oct 2, 2014 #11
    I was thinking about this a while back and came to the obvious conclusion that people must be slowly becoming more attractive as the millennia role by. Then, though, it occured to me that the opposite might well be true: what could actually be evolving is our capacity to be attracted. The more universal our taste, the more babies get made.

    Consider some remote tribe. The guy that finds all the available women attractive is at an advantage over the guy that only desires the 'most attractive" individual woman. And his more universal taste is something that would likely get passed down to his more numerous offspring.

    By this logic it could be possible that we are actually getting uglier and uglier, but not realizing it because we're more and more attracted to whatever's available.
     
  13. Oct 2, 2014 #12

    Simon Bridge

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    See:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_cute_sexy_sweet_funny?language=en
    ... it may help to rephrase the question, otherwise you could equally ask why gorillas are attracted to such ugly mates.

    When considering "fitness" in evolution - consider: fitness for what?
    Fitness for survival? But of what?

    It is the survival of the trait - if the trait is really good at getting perpetuated, then it will persist.
    Consider: many organisms have evolved a short lifespan - is that detrimental to the organism?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  14. Oct 2, 2014 #13

    Ygggdrasil

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    In the rest of the animal kingdom, the traits that increase the attractiveness of an individual to members of the opposite sex do not necessarily improve the fitness of the organism.
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_selection#Viability_and_variations_of_the_theory)

    Whether these traits that arise and are maintained by sexual selection also increase the fitness of the species is still a question without a clear answer (see the wikipedia link above for further discussion). However, the fact remains that not all evolutionary change is adaptive; some evolutionary changes occur simply through random chance (genetic drift), and sometimes these changes occur through sexual selection and are largely orthogonal to adaptation.
     
  15. Oct 3, 2014 #14
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_aesthetics
    They even have this comment,
    And now I also know how an American woman prefers a hairless man,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_attractiveness
    C'mon, wax or shave yourself please..
     
  16. Oct 7, 2014 #15
    There is much variation to which traits we as humans find attractive. I would propose that focusing on which traits we find universally unattractive would shed more light on the matter.
     
  17. Oct 14, 2014 #16
    good laugh :):DD
     
  18. Oct 14, 2014 #17
    I don't think this question is limited to only humans. This is just an amateur hypothesis but I suspect that in species where the female chooses the male, the male they choose is the one with the brighter plumage or who has won a mating ritual. In species where neither sex chooses its mate, but in which the male mates with any available female, for instance dogs, we don't see a significant difference in characteristics between males and females. In my opinion, human females being the more attractive sex indicates that males are predominantly the ones that choose their mate and that part of that choice is based on physical appearance. Could it be that the emergence of a criterion among a population for selecting a mate becomes self reinforcing and perpetuating?
     
  19. Oct 14, 2014 #18
    Biased a little, skeptic2? Wouldn't about half the population differ with your statement that human females are the more attractive sex?:p
     
  20. Oct 14, 2014 #19
    Perhaps, but why are female models used more often than male models to sell to both women and men?
     
  21. Oct 14, 2014 #20
    Actually an article from a few years ago in Scientific American found that an overall concept of beauty is nearly universal and disregards geography, culture, and so-called "race". This study was begun as an extension to the phenomenon that averaging creates beauty. IIRC someone in the early 20th Century was trying to come up with a picture of an average criminal (to prove some pet theory able to predict criminality) and was perplexed that by combining features and averaging the results always looked more appealing than any of the originals.

    Perhaps more importantly, the beauty requirement is also apparently biased by gender. The primary attractors to men are youth and beauty while the attractors to women appear to vary with hormonal cycles and include intelligence, ambition and steadfastness (willingness and ability to invest long term in offspring) but the closer to ovulation reduce to a more visceral sense of power - perhaps a hormonal version of "beer goggles" :P
     
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