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Lecture 10

PSYCH 3AC3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Handicap Principle, Masculinity

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Jennifer Ostovich

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Topic 5: Evolution - Women’s Long-Term Mate Preferences (2)
Risks of choosing an unhealthy mate? Bad genes health wise, mate could die and
leave you to raise ospring, get sick and have to look after partner and ospring,
might be too unhealthy to reproduce, cant gather resources
oHealth is indispensable to both men and women  long term partner to rear
oHow to avoid an unhealthy mate?
oHandicap hypothesis: use of costly signals = peacocks tail (heavy, bright)
puts them at risk of being seen by predators and not being able to run away
If you are able to survive into adulthood with this handicap = healthy
The brightness of the plumage is associated with less parasites =
healthiest males
Despite having these handicaps it is healthy and able to avoid death
Human Males’ Costly Signal
Males who are healthy can have high testosterone during development = more
masculine faces
What does facial masculinity look like? Those who are unhealthy during
development have to supress testosterone production  more feminine faces
Males who are masculine have better immune-competence
Why should women prefer masculine men? Resources
oAssociated with physical strength, dominance
Research on Masculinity
Masculinity and perception of health: women when asked to rate the healthiness of
men's faces always chose the most masculine men as the most healthy men  also
found the most masculine men as more attractive for short term/long term
Masculinity and actual health: the more masculine the males face the less often
that male was sick
oCould it be that more masculine men are less likely to seek medical help?
Do women prefer masculine men? Johnson et al (2001)
oAsked who they viewed as most attractive as a long-term mate?  Women
always preferred the more masculine faces
oNew studies suggest that women do not prefer masculine men as long-term
mates. Why are the 3ndings variable? Women’s menstrual cycle  when
women are ovulating the body wants the best genes  more masculine men.
When they are not ovulating  women prefer more feminine faced men
oWomen’s own mate value predicts how masculine of a man they prefer 
women of high mate value prefer more masculine men
oRate the higher masculine men as being more dominant, less faithful, worse
parents, less warm personalities  women are reacting based on what their
bodies goal is based on their cycle
oLess masculine men rated as more likely to stick around, being better
parents etc.
Face and Body Symmetry
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