Ask any peahen what she wants in a mate, and you're likely to get the same answer: eye-popping, elegant plumage. A peacock not equipped with a set of big, provocative tail feathers is doomed to a frustrating sex life. Peahens always pick well-endowed suitors over drab ones, and biologists see the evolutionary logic behind it -- healthy birds, with showy feathers, are likely to father healthy offspring.
But ask any person what she or he wants in a mate, and the range of answers is bewildering. "A kind heart." "Great legs." "Someone who loves kayaking." Yet some scientists in a field called evolutionary psychology propose that we all share instinctive preferences, and that what we humans find alluring in a mate is rooted in our evolutionary past.
Much of the science of evolutionary psychology is controversial -- but nonetheless thought-provoking. Judge for yourself.