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Is Love in Our DNA?

Consider this...
Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Beautiful young women are sexually attractive to men because beauty and youth are closely linked with fertility and reproductive value. In evolutionary history, males who were able to identify and mate with fertile females had the greatest reproductive success ... A 14-year-old woman has a higher reproductive value than a 24-year-old woman, because her future contribution to the gene pool is higher on average.
--David Buss, "The Strategies of Human Mating," American Scientist, 1994

computer generated average facespacer.gifcomputer generated hyper-feminine face
When a computer-generated "average" face was made "hyper-feminine" -- with plump lips, a short and narrow lower jaw, and high eyebrows -- it was judged more attractive by both men and women. Evolutionary psychologist Victor Johnson, who led the study, notes that full lips and a delicate jaw are indicators of high estrogen and low testosterone levels -- indicators of fertility.

To a primatologist, such preferences must be puzzling. There is not a shred of evidence for any other primate that youth ... or specific body ratios considered indicative of reproductive value -- all commonly cited indices of a woman's "desirability" ... affect male willingness to mate ... Across virtually all primate species, infants born to first-time mothers suffer higher rates of infant mortality than do offspring born to experienced ... females ... Clearly, it makes evolutionary sense for males to select females ... based on their probability of producing offspring that survive.
--Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, "Raising Darwin's Consciousness," in Gender and Society, 2000

  corset with tiny waist
Do you find "curvy" women sexier? Some scientists argue that a taste for a small waist and big hips makes evolutionary sense: Women with less "hourglass" figures often entered puberty late and have lower fertility.
model Lauren Hutton
Model Lauren Hutton once quipped, "As soon as they [models] were out of eggs, women were out of business." But, if advertisers and the media promoted older faces, would it change our cultural standards of beauty?
  In the end, it matters not the reason why older men have access to younger women. As long as they do, some of them will partake ... What is important to question, and to hold to the fire of alternative interpretation, is the immutability and adaptive logic of the discrepancy, its basis in our genome rather than in the ecological circumstances in which a genome manages to express itself.
--Natalie Angier, Woman, 1999

Did evolution shape your taste in a mate?

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