Saturday, September 21, 2013

Expendables are more interesting

Genetically, men are more expendable than women are. Historically for our species around 40% of men and 80% of women reproduced. Alphas ruled the past. But the biological world isn't static and significant evolutionary changes can occur in the geological blink of an eye. Today in the US the gap has narrowed substantially. The GSS shows that 81% of men and 86% of women who've made it through their reproductive careers have procreated. Genetic continuance is a lot more egalitarian than it used to be, especially for men. Fecundity is now a beta trait. Still, while we're not the same people who lived during ancient Roman times, let alone the same people as the first neolithic agriculturalists, we're not an alien species to them, either. Grok is relevant to us, even if he isn't exactly us.

If men are more expendable than women are, a presumable corollary is that, from a woman's perspective, characteristics of sexual attraction in men are more varied, more numerous, and less ubiquitous than the characteristics of sexual attraction in women are from the perspective of men. It takes a lot of time and effort for women to reproduce, and we need just about all of them to do it if the species is going to survive and prosper. Consequently, men overwhelmingly focus on signs of maximum fertility: Waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7, healthy and supple skin, perky breasts that appear to defy gravity, lack of current impregnation, etc. The rest is mostly marginal stuff.

We can afford to be less conservative when it comes to men's contributions, which works out well since male contributions are the stronger drivers of evolutionary changes. Women aren't primed to detect signs of fertility in men. They aren't any better at identifying said signs than (disinterested) men are, and it's presence is usually uncertain (though presumed to be there) unless the last stages of intimacy reveal otherwise. Yes, older and fatter guys are more likely to have issues, but even among these 'at risk' categories, most are capable. Pubescence is just about the only prerequisite--once that box is checked off, female attraction moves on to assess a whole host of other characteristics: Status (ie command of resources and of other people, not evincing a need of approval from other people whether they be male or female, etc), humor, height and general physical fitness, intelligence, kindness, self-confidence, etc, with different women putting varying amounts of emphases on different dimensions of a more variegated (and sometimes seemingly contradictory) suite of desirability markers. Men are more interesting, if not necessarily more infatuating.

Tell me if I'm missing something, merely stating the obvious, or being overly presumptive with an amateur's understanding of evolutionary psychology.

GSS variables used: CHILDS, SEX, AGE(40-65), YEAR(2000-2012)

17 comments:

Southern Man said...

So it makes sense that male desires are closely tied to the physical indicators that the woman can conceive, bear, and nurse children; ample breasts, narrow waist, large hips, and who cares what her personality is like. Female standards are twofold and self-contradictory: the rogue who's been successful with other women (which is an automatic doubleplusgood to the female psyche) and the provider who'll stick around and help rear the kids.

Thursday said...

The overwhelming majority of non-obese women under 25 are reasonably attractive. At least a 6.

(I use the 10 point rating system to express how much I'd like to have sex with someone, based on an absolute scale with 5 being neutral. I don't use it to describe the distribution of attractiveness, so there is no contradiction in having the average girl be a 6 or 7.)

Exurban Bourbon said...

"Historically for our species around 40% of men and 80% of women reproduced."

That claim appears to have been found incorrect by more recent research:

http://www.avoiceformen.com/sexual-politics/marriage/a-voice-for-men-mgtow-central/

(Scroll down to the "Female Hypergamy" section.)


Audacious Epigone said...

SM,

Duality is more complex.

Thursday,

There isn't a similar stage of life for men where most are at least somewhat attractive to the female masses, however.

Re: scale, that's a useful tool because it dispenses with the problems associated with trying to control for age, the single largest determinant of female attractiveness.

EB,

Were prehistoric ratios of reproduction as similar as current ratios, or has the gap closed even if not by as much?

Anonymous said...

I disagree that beauty is merely indicators of fertility.It is also an indication of genetic health:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002106

Audacious Epigone said...

EB,

I get the sense that it was wider than it is today. I'm reading about post-Roman Britain in the 6th and 7th centuries during the Anglo-Saxon 'invasions' (or steady waves of settlement, more likely). A lot of Saxons procreated with British women through concubinage while fathering kids with Saxon women through marriage, while a lot of British men were left out in the cold. This isn't an unfamiliar historical story, but it rarely (if ever?) goes the other direction.

silly girl said...

That 86% of women is a surprise.

The US census number is about 81% of women having children. Strange discrepancy.

Table 1, All races:

women aged 40-44, no children, 18.8%

Given that women aged 35-39, no children is 19.7%, it seems rather unlikely that the over 45 crowd would make up another 4%.

Where do you think the discrepancy is? Do census numbers include like institutionalized folks etc, and therefore have more childless people counted than the GSS which has to survey people functional enough to answer questions?

silly girl said...

eh, forgot the link

http://www.census.gov/hhes/fertility/data/cps/2010.html

Audacious Epigone said...

SG,

A 4% discrepancy does raise questions.

In addition to those removed from society not being included (as well as the mentally handicapped, who I assume tend to have far fewer children than the rest of the population), the GSS numbers used run back through the 2000s, when birthrates were a little higher. Don't know if that explains it away, if there is something else, or if there is also some random survey noise to account for.

Anonymous said...

I expect there's a fair amount of personality and trait selection in attraction to women, particularly nurturance, but I think it intuitively seems correct that since women are doing one big thing already that winnows the selective field a lot, there's less room for other selective pressures.

One interesting implication of women being mainly selected on signals of fecundity and men on personality and other traits would seem to me to be that, within this dynamic difference, men and women would both seem to end up evolving towards being attracted to people with combinations of female type fecund signalling (particularly in a sex neutral way, like glossy hair, etc.) and male-type personality / traits (so long as it didn't hit nurturance and fecundity too bad), which combination would give the optimal traits for sons (male personality and other traits) and daughters (fecundity and nurturance).

Audacious Epigone said...

Ed,

Mostly a millenial/young Gen X thing, but it's seeping into the older soil. Don't hate the messenger!

szopeno said...

If alphas were having such a great an advantages over "betas", then todya vast majority of males would be "alpha" types, isn't it, unless the "alpha" characteristics would evoke some extremely undesirable characteristics in females, causing them to have huge fertility penalty.

Audacious Epigone said...

szopeno,

Game answers that by distinguishing fertility from sexual attractiveness, which is understandable given the contemporary artifice of birth control, but the result remains--betas outbreed alphas.

Tyrion lannister said...

“Yes, older and fatter guys are more likely to have issues, but even among these 'at risk' categories, most are capable. Pubescence is just about the only prerequisite--once that box is checked off, female attraction moves on to assess a whole host of other characteristics: Status (ie command of resources and of other people, not evincing a need of approval from other people whether they be male or female, etc), humor, height and general physical fitness, intelligence, kindness, self-confidence, etc, with different women putting varying amounts of emphases on different dimensions of a more variegated (and sometimes seemingly contradictory) suite of desirability markers”

I do not find any real proof of your argument against assortative mating. In fact the reverse is endlessly demonstrated in empirical research on lek mating systems, as well as other nonresource-based mating systems has confirmed:

1) The association between female preference for morphological quality in mate choice and increased variability in male success.Women (humans in overall) use non-compensatory choice heuristics, not strategies making trade-offs among attributes (e.g., weighted averaging among educational level/incomes, attractiveness, personality, etc). For example, when faced with choosing one potential mate from different online profiles, people eliminated individuals who are not acceptable on a given algorithm of attractiveness, first they eliminate anyone who does not meet their standards on the limiting factor; and of those remaining they eliminated anyone who does not meet their standards for education, personality, etc. It is a linear process. But you have to pass the appearance check.

2) Female choices are more skewed than are those of men, indicating greater mate choice agreement and hence greater potential effects of sexual selection at the hands of women as the choosier sex. Hence mating skew in females is an important measure of this inequality in male mating success. Female mate-choice is a fundamental principle in evolutionary biology. It predicts that women should have the ultimate choice in selecting a mate because of their significantly higher level of investment in gestation. In this case, “should” can be argued (for or against) from multiple angles, but I’m using it in a game theoretic optimization sense.

So we must to assume the idea that having a nice personality, intelligence, or humor, the uber-hot girl of our dreams recognizes unending value in our averageness and falls madly in love with us? It seems you find the concept of assortative mating unsavory. Assortative mating is the simple theory that those of comparable mate value will self-organize in such a way to roughly match up. Thus, the folk wisdom of “punching your own weight” when it comes to dating is insightful and useful.

Tyrion lannister said...


Furthermore female preferences are biased towards hypergamy rather than assortative mating. But, what is the basis of this dynamic? The authors of "Freakonomics" discovered that 56% of men that create an online dating profile do not even get one single message(compared with 21% of females) while Jupiter Research found that 97% quit within 3 months.And an OKCupid study also found that male appraisals of female attractiveness followed a normal distribution curve, while female appraisals of male attractiveness found a shocking 80% of males to be BELOW average in attractiveness(suggesting that some preconcieved notions are skewing their assessments).

I examined the matching dynamic by myself in an experiment (unpublished) in the context of online dating. I created dummy profiles varying in social desirability (physical attractiveness). And ranking in education, occupation, basic physical characteristics (weight, height, eye color, and hair color), interests (hobbies and activities outside work), smoking habits, and family, situation (presence of children) and the only limiting factor was associated with only with an independent variable, the profiles’ physical attractiveness, I found that:

1) The medium man (in terms of photo attractiveness) can expect to hear back from the median woman with an 11% chance, 48% with unattractive and 2.5% with females in the top half of the beauty distribution.

2) whereas males daters in the top 10th percentile of attractiveness, can expect to get a reply with a 42% from highly attractive females, 69% moderately attractive, 80% from medium, and 92% from unattractive users.

3) I also found that men in the bottom 40 percentile of the attractiveness distribution had a 0% of response ratio by female daters in the top half of the beauty distribution, and their succes ratio by women in the upper half was 8% of probability.

Your idea is essentially that women should (in the cultural norm sense i guess) cast aside both their innate feelings of attraction and their cognitive analysis of a man’s value. What should women replace this with? Why… the first guy who comes along, of course. This doesn’t do any favors for deprived men either. Despite attempts by the media milieu to deny women’s instinctual attraction and passion, then reify the denial by cultural programming, women’s attraction remains. When a man who has absorbed the “strive for hollow mediocrity” message attempts to attract a woman who’s still operating on her own instinctual feelings and cognition, he’s in for a taste of disappointment.

Who regularly benefits from the anesthetizing of human instinctual passion and attraction are the purveyors of the ideas (Game apologists, etc). There is much hay to be made in convincing average individuals that they have real hope of attracting someone out of their league. The real genius comes with the idea that all you have to do to realize this hope is to have a nice personality and intelligence. This capitalizes on the human psychological tendency to seek answers in magic bullets rather than work or progress. Selling hope for a dime… such a beautiful business model.

The (perhaps) unintended consequence of this culturalization program is that it creates a flak feedback mechanism. Since communication between humans operates to a large extent on the sociocultural channel, establishing norms that we should be attracted to anyone who’s just being their true self also establishes a cultural channel for social sanctioning. The phenomenally cruel step of castigating an individual by exercising their innate feelings of attraction are the in place. Psychosocial pressure can be applied to this end through a variety of mechanisms. The harsh reality that we see in any club / bar as well as in online dating, is that the average girl simply has very little interest in an average guy (and has no economic compulsion to 'settle' for one either, as did previous generations of women).Congratulations, human nature deniers; your brainwashing program causes real harm to average guys.

Anonymous said...

"Historically for our species around 40% of men and 80% of women reproduced. Alphas ruled the past...Today in the US the gap has narrowed substantially. The GSS shows that 81% of men and 86% of women who've made it through their reproductive careers have procreated... Fecundity is now a beta trait."

Alternatively...

the top 80% of men by fitness reproduced in the past but only the children of the top 40% of men by fitness *survived* the harsher world that existed at the time whereas now the children of the same 80% can survive.

Anonymous said...

"and who cares what her personality is like."

If you're thinking about having kids you start to notice if they're good with kids or not so it's not surprising that the traditional female personality virtues all revolve around those sort of traits.

"Female standards are twofold and self-contradictory"

Yes - and the proportions of each cycle over the month.