Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cherchez la (les) femme(s)

This recent article in "Psychology Today" is not a bad research summary, despite that it has been written by social scientists other than economists :-). A user's manual on the evolutionary perspective applied to human nature, targeting a very general audience (and therefore, perhaps unavoidably, plagued by sensationalism; fortunately, the compromise does not appear to be critical). While I'd have some issues with some of the theory advanced to explain (particularly when claiming full explanatory power) the facts presented, the facts remain: and some of them are extremely interesting (eg. titles 5 and 6 below were news even to yours truly...)! Check below the headlines of the 'politically incorrect' decalogue Psychology Today chose to thrill its readers with. This intro functioned well as appetizer with me, hence I've already pre-ordered the book on which it is based (& I trust my appetite won't fade away with the main courses)
  1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)
  2. Humans are naturally polygamous
  3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy
  4. Most suicide bombers are Muslim
  5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce
  6. Beautiful people have more daughters
  7. What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals
  8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of
  9. It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)
  10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

And here's one excerpt (under title 9 above) meant to further incite your curiosity; notwithstanding the fact that this is in no way a ceteris paribus 'analysis' and that Darwinism is literally stretched to extremes herein, I'd say it still uncovers part of the general truth; but do ask Bill if you want somebody with significant expertise in the area :-)

The question many asked in 1998—"Why on earth would the most powerful man in the world jeopardize his job for an affair with a young woman?"—is, from a Darwinian perspective, a silly one. Betzig's answer would be: "Why not?" Men strive to attain political power, consciously or unconsciously, in order to have reproductive access to a larger number of women. Reproductive access to women is the goal, political office but one means. To ask why the President of the United States would have a sexual encounter with a young woman is like asking why someone who worked very hard to earn a large sum of money would then spend it.

What distinguishes Bill Clinton is not that he had extramarital affairs while in office—others have, more will; it would be a Darwinian puzzle if they did not—what distinguishes him is the fact that he got caught.


Anonymous said...

so what women who are not naturally heavy breasted need surgery or else are doomed ??!!!!

catalinpetru said...

multam de recomandare :)

Sebi Buhai said...

@anonymous: well, well, well, not so fast: I don't think these people are or want to be seen in any way as doom-sayers :-). That discussion under no. 1 was ceteris paribus (ie. the conclusion holds, given all other things equal): any woman has many other qualities that make her appreciated, desired, loved. And I did not even mention the heterogeneity in tastes here, within the males' population (though, for my part, when we talk about breast size, I would not be a dissenter :-). But caveat lector: ceteris paribus, always ceteris paribus- and as always, the devil lies in the detail...)

@catalin: de nada, amigo :-).