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Why is physical attractiveness more important for women?

In many animals, including most mammalian species (roughly, milk-producing animals), the male looks much more spectacular than the female and is more dependent on his looks for reproductive success.  A classic example is that of peacocks and peahens, where the male looks magnificent and the female comparatively dull; another example is of lions vs. lionesses.  A general theme in such species is that the investment of the female in producing and rearing offspring is much greater, making the females largely choose the males and the males court the females, for which they need to impress the females, which they often do through their looks.  Among humans, women invest more heavily in raising children, and courtship, with a minority of exceptions, mostly comprises of males seeking to impress women, but the general theme in human societies is that physical attractiveness (henceforth attractiveness) is more important for women.  Why is this so?

The feminist explanation is straightforward: patriarchy attempts to preoccupy women with their looks in order to keep them down.  However, concern about looks and bodyweight have been documented in a sample of young adult Iranian women born after the Islamic revolution (late 1970s) and having grown up with hardly any exposure to Western culture.(1)  So a better explanation is needed.

Charles Darwin argued that among humans, mate choice on the part of men became more important, and the males selected for beauty in women, making women more attractive than men in an absolute sense.  I personally find attractive women more impressive looking than attractive men, and a couple of years ago would have found Darwin’s hypothesis appealing, but the problem is that some heterosexual women may find attractive men more impressive than attractive women.  So how does one make the definitive argument that in humans the females have ended up looking better than the males?

Jonathan Gottschall(2, pdf) has come up with a revised solution to the problem by adding to a previous explanation by Symons, who argued that in humans “a female’s reproductive value can be assessed more accurately from her physical appearance than a male’s reproductive value can,” leading to a greater emphasis on attractiveness in women.

Gottschall addresses the role of parental investment.  Human babies take a long time to mature and are totally dependent on parental care for survival during the first couple of years.  So successful child rearing requires extensive parental investment on the part of men also.  Hence, in choosing a man for reproductive purposes, women will emphasize how likely a man is to stay around and help raise the child.  This will translate to reduced emphasis on how attractive a man is.  This is a reasonable argument and undoubtedly partially accounts for the lesser emphasis on attractiveness in men.

Gottschall elaborates on Symon’s notion for why there is greater emphasis on attractiveness in women.  At any given time there is large variation among women regarding how fertile they are, and the fertility of women can be assessed to a good extent from their looks, better so than the case with men.  These facts altogether make men somewhat choosier, i.e., place a stronger emphasis on women’s looks.  Gottschall describes humans as a partially sex-role reversed species by virtue of the men being more involved in raising children and the men being choosier with respect to mate selection.  There are some shortcomings with this notion.

Whereas it is true that at any given time there is great variation among women with respect to fertility, age accounts for a lot of this variation, much more so than in men (e.g., many 60-year-old men can father a healthy child, but hardly any woman this old could give birth to a healthy child).  So it should be clear that young adulthood will be more important for women’s attractiveness than men’s attractiveness.  But what about body shape variables after removing the age factor? 

Men strongly prefer above average femininity in women’s faces and physiques, and physical femininity is related to fertility and fecundity.(face shape; physique)  Yet, the great majority of men will not refuse an opportunity for sex with women who are nowhere close to what they find optimally appealing.  So why is a need for beauty causing anguish for a lot of women when most women do not have to be anywhere close to this ideal to attract men?  And, as long as the woman is a young adult, how does it hurt men to impregnate as many women as they can get a hold of as long as they are not choosing less attractive women over more attractive ones?  Gottschall’s explanation is inadequate.       

When men have lots of women to choose from, they will pick the best looking ones, but very few men are normally in this position.  There was a time when humans who moved into the northern hemisphere encountered a very harsh environment and suffered an excess of male deaths because they were more dependent on hunting for survival.  So at any given time there was an excess of women and most men were not in a position to support multiple wives.  This would be a prime scenario where a woman’s attractiveness would especially matter.  This scenario is the most plausible reason behind the rapid rise of hair and eye color diversity in Northern Europe as well as the more feminine waist-hip proportions of Northern European women,(3, pdf) their finer facial features, etc.  But, a comparably stronger emphasis on women’s attractiveness is typical of non-European societies also.  So Gottschall’s hypothesis needs to be modified.

There are two additional factors that are reducing the emphasis on men’s attractiveness and increasing the emphasis on women’s attractiveness.

The general pattern of men courting women by impressing them holds true for humans but men have become less dependent on looks because of the way human intelligence has developed.  Many men attract women through their musical instrument-playing ability, writing ability, sense of humor, artistic skills and other abilities uniquely associated with human intelligence.  Just as many male animals look more impressive than their female counterparts and use their looks to attract females, the highest expression of many courtship-relevant uniquely human abilities such as artistic skills and musical ability are typically found in men, and men gifted in these abilities use them to impress women.  So the way human intelligence has developed makes physical attractiveness less important for men.

The other factor is competition between females for males,(4, pdf) seen in light of the development of human intelligence.  If most women share a similar notion of an ideal man, and there are few such men, these men will have their choice of women and will naturally select the best looking ones.  Because of the way human consciousness has developed and mirrors, most women know how they look in comparison to others, and if they are not very attractive, then this will be a source of anguish for many because they are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with other women for desirable men.  So the source of anguish for women, notwithstanding the willingness of most men to have sex with women nowhere close to what they find optimally attractive, is inter-female mate competition given women’s high standards for men, whereby they will typically reject many if not most interested men and lament that just about all other women are after the men they want.

So here is a summary of why attractiveness has become more important for women in humans, at odds with the common pattern in mammals:

  • Greater paternal investment in children on the part of men – corresponds to reduced emphasis on male attractiveness on the part of women.
  • Narrower age range of optimal fertility in women – corresponds to increased emphasis on youth for women.
  • Human intelligence development, giving men cognitive abilities to impress women – corresponds to reduced need for male attractiveness.
  • Inter-female mate competition in light of human consciousness development and the development of mirrors – a source of anguish pertaining to looks, originating from within women.

There may be additional factors that I am unaware of, but patriarchy is an unlikely factor.


  1. Abdollahi, P., and Mann, T., Eating disorder symptoms and body image concerns in Iran: comparisons between Iranian women in Iran and in America, Int J Eat Disord, 30, 259 (2001).
  2. Gottschall, J., Greater emphasis on female attractiveness in Homo sapiens: A revised solution to an old evolutionary riddle, Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 347 (2007).
  3. Frost, P., European hair and eye color: A case of frequency dependent selection?, Evol Hum Behav, 27, 85 (2006).
  4. Campbell, A., Female competition: causes, constraints, content, and contexts, J Sex Res, 41, 16 (2004).


Erik said:

A general theme in such species is that the investment of the female in producing and rearing offspring is much greater, making the females largely choose the males and the males court the females, for which they need to impress the females, which they often do through their looks. Among humans, women invest more heavily in raising children, and courtship, with a minority of exceptions, mostly comprises of males seeking to impress women, but the general theme in human societies is that physical attractiveness (henceforth attractiveness) is more important for women. Why is this so?

In some cases, men do use their looks and clothing to attract women. In the seduction community, this practice was "invented" by the pickup artist Mystery (he didn't invent it of course; he just gave it a name and popularized it). Here is Mystery peacocking.

Even in such cases, "peacocking" doesn't make men attractive primarily because it makes them look beautiful or even stylish (Mystery looks ridiculous most of the time). It makes men attractive because of the personality traits and social status that it communicates.

Jonathan Gottschall(2, pdf) has come up with a revised solution to the problem by adding to a previous explanation by Symons, who argued that in humans “a female’s reproductive value can be assessed more accurately from her physical appearance than a male’s reproductive value can,” leading to a greater emphasis on attractiveness in women.

This is definitely true. A man can assess a woman's attractiveness at a glance (though his estimate may be adjusted later). A women's assessment of a man depends more heavily on his body language and vocal tonality, which cannot be evaluated so quickly.

Yet, the great majority of men will not refuse an opportunity for sex with women who are nowhere close to what they find optimally appealing. So why is a need for beauty causing anguish for a lot of women when most women do not have to be anywhere close to this ideal to attract men?

Another reason is that while typical heterosexual men will bang women below their standards, they will not usually have relationships with those women.

The general pattern of men courting women by impressing them holds true for humans but men have become less dependent on looks because of the way human intelligence has developed.

Of course, raw intelligence on its own often isn't attractive to women, at least when we are getting 2+ SDs from the mean. Perhaps this is because intelligence at that level is correlated with unattractive personality traits (e.g. introversion).

My impression is that masculine personality traits that relate to resource acquisition ability and social status contribute more to variance in male attractiveness than intelligence does. Masculine personality traits and social status also seem more important than physical looks.

So the source of anguish for women, notwithstanding the willingness of most men to have sex with women nowhere close to what they find optimally attractive, is inter-female mate competition given women’s high standards for men, whereby they will typically reject many if not most interested men and lament that just about all other women are after the men they want.

It is the disparity in male and female selectiveness that is the source of most pain in relationships for both men and women. This is nobody's fault, since neither men nor women are morally responsible for their evolved preferences, and people have the right to mate with those they find attractive, and to not mate with those they don't find attractive. However, it is important for people to understand the impact of the aggregate preferences of their sex. I think the pressures that men's preferences place on women are well understood, but the pressures of women's hypergamic preferences on men are less well understood publicly.

This has not always been the case; I think women's preferences have been more widely understood at previous times in history. Unfortunately, in the present, it has become fashionable to either deny or spread misinformation about women's preferences, particularly feminists. Some radical feminists actually do admit certain aspects of women's preferences, but just insist that they are created by "patriarchy;" I think this is backwards: it's more likely that women's preferences drive the structures that feminists call "patriarchy."

Though in the case of feminists, I've learned that they aren't deliberately lying; they just don't realize that their preferences are less typical of heterosexual women. Feminist women typically have no idea of what straight men are actually dealing with. I was catching up with a feminist friend of mine the other day, and she said that she found most of the men on Beauty and the Geek attractive. She didn't seem to realize that those guys are on the show for a reason, partly because virtually no heterosexual women will notice them sexually.

"There was a time" when resource acquisition ability was unique to men who were in short supply. So women had to have a man to raise a child otherwise the child would just die of starvation. A few hunters could support two women with children . A corollary of this would be that some men could not even support one woman with a child. A woman had to not have a bad provider for a mate or her child would die. Those women who decided to risk cheating would be likely to do so because they were dissatisfied with their mans resource acquisition skills; he was a bad provider. Therefore those men getting some, or a lot, on the side were not able to achieve commensurate reproductive success; the children they fathered cheating with the wife of a hunting failure husband would often die. The sexual attractiveness of women needed to be backed up by something else that would encourage the provider not to take his food resources away -- neotenic looks. Caring and sharing inducing looks if you like, and romantic love which is more central to north european marrage practices.
If this is correct north European women would have an evolutionary adaptive reason for being more choosy and concerned about female competition for their preferred mate, the babies wouldn't survive with a sub-standard man providing for them , even if they had actually been fathered by a top quality man. I suppose this is a long winded way of saying I agree with you (except about cheating women).

Baldie: You have referred to the situation when some human tribes were more dependent on hunting large game for food; picking up small animals and gathering plant food sources were not viable sources for long-term sustenance. Then you consider the extra-pair copulation issue within this scenario. Firstly, hunting large game was not necessarily an individual affair but usually a group affair, and within any group of successful males, each of whom is capable of taking care of a wife and children, women will still find some men more desirable than others. Hence, women cheating on their partner with a higher quality man do not necessarily have a partner that is a failure with respect to resource provisioning. If a woman had a male partner who could not provide her with enough resources, and she managed to get pregnant by a higher quality man who couldn’t be bothered taking care of his illegitimate children, she still has options to attempt to take care of her children: function as a servant to more successful people, serve as a prostitute, etc.

You are trying to say that the women in this food-obtaining scenario had to develop more neotenic looks to decrease the chances that “the provider not to take his food resources away.” This doesn’t make any sense. Neoteny refers to retaining in adulthood the juvenile form of the ancestral species. The problem is that developing a new face shape is the chief characteristic of the ape-to-human face shape transformation. Neoteny requires growth retardation, and whereas the growth of the human face is retarded compared to the apes’, since the human face shape is unique, you can’t say that the human face (of any ethnic group) is neotenized.

This site has a link to a Peter Frost paper on the mortality north European steppe tundra hunters suffered 20,000 years ago, it also seems to accept P. Frost's theory that sexual selection of women took place there as can be observed in the population of this area today, though the effects of sexual selection of women are most strikingly exemplified further north in Scandinavia which was under a kilometer of ice at that time of course.
How could sexual selection of women happen if it was as viable for women to support a family as to have a man supporting woman and children by hunting: it couldn't. Never mind this particular scenario, for any sexual selection of women many women must not successfully reproduce viable children, who go on to have ther own offspring and so on.
This hunting enviroment required covering vast distances on foot in minus 15 degrees and was a man killer, the death of so many men produced a unique situation; women needed to be special to get a mate. (incidently I now incline towards beliving that gracilization in N. European men is an adaptation to covering these huge distances on foot, less bodyweight to be moved less stress on the ankle for a broken ankle would be deadly ect.)

Yes maybe some men were successfuly impregnating lone or cheating women and some of these women who got by as you suggest -- by providing services-- but they were outbred by the "married" women who had a capable provider husband; being supported by a dedicated provider these married women's children died less often. Being in demand the men might decide to abandon their dependants which would be disastrous for them AS IN NO OTHER ENVIROMENT. The solution would be that the women with the most "caring and sharing inducing" looks would tend to survive. Therefor some characteristics of N. European women have an evolutionary rationale --"are there"-- to induce men to feel good about being a faithful provider to their wife as opposed to abandoning them. White skin is an obvious contender for such a characteristic. The totaly helpless human baby has light skin (as well as a special smell) which induces provisioning and care. Light skin can be said to be child like , what terminology to use I am not sure now, "caring and sharing inducing" characteristics will have to do. I defer to superior knowledge in the matter of face shape.

Baldie:  Citing Peter Frost’s paper doesn’t mean that I fully endorse all his ideas or all speculations/conjectures in the paper.  The evidence for stronger sexual selection in Northern Europe is, partly, in the rapid rise of a high level of genetic diversity behind hair color variation.  It is clear that this diversity was selected for, and the most plausible selective factor is sexual selection.  Frost has documented this data, but what enabled stronger sexual selection is a different issue.

It appears, strongly, that the enabling mechanism has something to do with excess male deaths and reduced capability of men to support multiple wives, which Frost has proposed and with which I agree, but it is naïve to believe that sexual selection basically acted on women alone.

In all populations, sexual selection, acting on both men and women, is an ongoing process every generation, including populations where marriages are predominantly arranged  between partners who are effectively strangers to each others.  So the questions are not 1) sexual selection or not, or 2) sexual selection of which sex?  The issues are stronger vs. weaker sexual selection with respect to both inter-population and inter-sex comparisons.

An imbalance between the proportions of men and women in the population creates an opportunity for stronger sexual selection.  Sexual selection is expected to act more strongly on the surplus sex because there are fewer potential partners of the opposite sex for them.  Again, I have no beef with Frost on these two expectations.  However, there are other issues that you have not considered and I haven’t encountered them in Frost’s writings.

Whereas mate choice on the part of both men and women are important, which of these choices is more important?  Clearly, mate choice on the part of women because they are the ones who give birth and because women have a much more limited child bearing capability than men.  When you have an excess of women, two major sources of the suppression of women’s sexuality are largely eliminated.  With an excess of women around, most men are not motivated to restrict women’s sexuality.  To complement this, whereas women normally suppress each other’s sexuality to negotiate on better terms with men, if there are not many men out there, then they have to be loser with their sexuality to compete with other women for access to men.  So, the situation in Northern Europe afforded higher sexual freedom to women compared to most other places, and women naturally being more circumspect with their choices, even if their choices are limited, will be sexually selecting men also, in the form of cheating on their partner in some cases, if necessary.  This scenario over many generations would tend to make Northern Europeans diverge more from other human populations on several counts.  Hair color diversity is one outcome.  Eye color diversity is likely another outcome.  And, you can be sure that there are many other such outcomes, not limited to physical appearance.

So, sexual selection still works in the scenarios that I give you, namely less attractive women being loser with their sexuality to get impregnated by men who would be willing to have sex with them but not take them as wives, or women offering their services as prostitutes or servants to feed their illegitimate children since the advantage is with the more attractive women.  You seem to argue that sexual selection must require some drastic scenario, but given that sexual selection still occurs in Asian countries where most marriages being arranged, the scenarios I gave you afford much stronger sexual selection.

It is absurd to believe that gracilization in Northern European men is an adaptation to covering large distances on ground, something facilitated by less body weight.  I have been talking about fine facial features.  If you deposit less bone mass in the face how much weight do you save?  And why are Northern Europeans then so tall and with more bone mass and muscularity than most populations?

The other issue you have brought up is “caring and sharing” looks in women or something along the lines of infantile looks (e.g., lighter skin, lighter hair) that supposedly bring out the nurturing element in men and facilitate their acting as better providers to their wife.  In many species, the males often kill babies of other males.  Humans males are a little better, but they generally don’t give a damn about babies not fathered by them.   Human males are typically sexually interested in women who are not fathered by them or their close relatives.  So why should one expect more infantile features in distantly-related women to win over men and bring out the nurturing element in them?  In other words, selection for blonder hair or lighter skin doesn’t have to be because these are more infantile.

In many cases, the shifts, if caused by sexual selection, have simple explanations.  If darkness-lightness is the issue, and you are going to deviate from very dark hair as the norm, then there is only one way to go: lighter hair.  No need to invoke selection for infantile looks.  Similarly, if nose thickness is the issue, there are two potential shifts: broader or narrower noses.  If no natural selection pressures are affecting nose thickness, and if the ancestral species had broader noses, and if some individuals can be found who are more reminiscent of the ancestral species, then where will sexual selection be leading nose thickness to?  I think you can answer this.  Why does your thinking have to be so muddled?                                     

Mate choice of the part of females is a recuring theme in your thinking, the rationale for doubting the sexual significance of steppe tumdra climatic conditions is no exception.
As you have pointed out elsewhere, in many parts of the world women's sexuality and ability to pick a mate is restricted while arranged marrages are often the norm. Northern Europe is the notable exception; here we find women have been largely free to choose their preferred mate. Now why is it that northern men haven't restricted women's sexual freedom to the same extent. Most men do not have very superior courtship skills nor are they exceptionally attractive to women,in fact they derive little relative benefit from women having sexual freedom, they can't impregnate loads of women like those superstuds. If a woman is impregnated by another man it takes her off the market and makes her a far less attractive mate on returning. Some men have great difficulty attracting even one woman in the first place. Restricting womens choice is aimed at leveling down the sexual sucess of a minority of men and increasing access to virgin females by the majority.(It may lower the overall quality over time as you say)

Allow me to suggest, if I may, that the period of steppe tundra hunting did drastically alter the balance of the sexes, men did not have to be concerned with womens preference for a minority of sexually very successful men. A man had to be able to survive the rigours of hunting, as many did not.( and if NE men show any selection it must be for surviving the man killing trips acoss the tundra)

This relaxed selection for the mentality that restricts women's sexual freedom has resulted in an evolved disposition for lesser restriction of womens sexual freedom in north European men

Gracilized faces do tend to go with gracilized physiques in my opinion. Absurd as it may be; gracilization as an adaptation to covering very long distances in 15 below could have been originaly acting on men who had even more bone mass and muscularity than north Europeans have today. After the special enviroment that gracilization was adapted to disappeared a heavier build may have become more common again as sexual selection became more or less balanced.

You make a good point about baby like white skin not being sexually interesting to men-- exactly!
That is P.Frosts explaination for why women think tanning their skin makes them more sexually attractive. It alters the sexually inhibiting white skin which is interfering with aspects of sexual desire.

Deviating from lighter hair could be to red, which is said to be the oldest and is most common in parts of Scotland, or golden which is most common in north west Europe, or just lighter which is ash blonde, most common in the Baltic. Baltic blondes are not as gracilized. I will give commenting a rest now.

Correction: should read- deviating to lighter hair.

Prolonged staring at ones face in the mirror will have a negative effect on self image analogous to the way repeating a word many times causes it to lose its meaning. Speculation has the latin word for mirror (specularis) in it because staring in the mirror has a long history in meditation. Very prolonged staring into the miror is regarded by psychiatrists as ominous; it often presages schizophrenia. I doubt mirrors brought about any real change. I think women assessed their own relative attractiveness as they had always done, by noticing how others treated them compared to others rather by than such an objective method as a mirror.
However the modern age of mass media images in conjunction with mirrors may well have changed how women percieve their relative atractiveness.

Baldie: I do not know what you mean by “...the rationale for doubting the sexual significance of steppe tumdra climatic conditions is no exception.” I do not the doubt female excess scenario due to greater male deaths while hunting, and mentioned it a long time ago; the statement before this is not a recurring theme in my thinking but, of late, a recurring theme in my replies to you because I don’t have a choice. When you have an excess of women, men potentially benefit from reduced restriction of women’s sexual freedom because the women are going to lower their standards, just not as low as men would in an analogous scenario. Take a look at these mail-order Eastern European brides, marketed to Western European or American men. You can bet that, in general, the Western men getting these women would not have gotten them if the women were Western. This is a different scenario where women lower their standards under duress, but you should get the point.

The feasibility of ending up with a more gracile body skeleton to save energy requirements while hunting in the cold north should be seen from the point of view of energetics. We consider the problem of walking 9 miles, for hunting, at a pace of 3mph. This roughly corresponds to a metabolic rate of 3.5 METS (1 MET = energy expenditure per unit body weight per unit time while resting). What would be the energy saved during this task if one had 20 pounds less of muscle and bone tissue? From this formula, we can calculate it to be roughly 96 kilocalories. Now how much food provides 96 kilocalories? Roughly, one-fifth of a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, about 300 grams of carrots, about two-thirds of a 330ml coca-cola can, etc. Ask yourself, would you rather save energy that can be recovered by consuming a very small amount of food or would you rather gain 20 pounds of muscle and fat and thereby considerably improve your ability to hunt and fight? Personally, I would take 30 additional pounds of muscle and 10 additional pounds of bone.

I made no point about baby-like white skin not being sexually interesting to men. You were the one who suggested that white skin could have been selected in women because of its infantile looks, which is what I expressed doubt against. White or lighter skin may correspond to sexual inhibition in many non-human species, but not so in humans or the effect in humans is miniscule. There has been a long history of pasty-white skin being preferred in Europe. A preference for a tan is a twentieth century phenomenon, and not for reasons postulated by Peter Frost. Among pre-industrial Europeans, a tan denoted lower social class because the lower class jobs were usually outdoor jobs, whereas in post-industrial Europe, pale skin denotes lower social class because most jobs are indoor jobs and lower class individuals do not have much time to relax on the beach/get some sun. So the real issue is what social class is conveyed rather than what level of sexiness is conveyed.

You said that “deviating from lighter hair could be red.” The issue was, pertaining to sexual selection, if one will be deviating from very dark hair as the norm, then there is only one way to go: lighter hair. Why bring in red hair? Selection acts on existing genes; it cannot make hair red unless red melanin is present in some frequency to start with. Red hair is not necessarily a light form; it can range from light to dark depending on the concentration of pigment.

Visitor: Since most people make similar attractiveness judgments, in the majority of cases, people’s opinion of what they see in the mirror will be slightly better than or similar to how most others see them. Before mirrors or any equivalent reflective item, people could not easily associate their popularity or lack of it with the minutiae of their looks except for issues such as height, muscularity or fat levels, which require a developed conscience but no mirrors. So I suppose I should have been clearer.

Mea cupla - I didn't read your remarks about white skin properly.
I am no longer sure how much weight to attach to the "caring and sharing" white skin argument, I may have misunderstood what I read of P. Frost on that subject.

The gracilization theory is original to me I think, (not perhaps very persuasive evidence of its value). Thanks for addressing it and providing the energetics but what what I was thinking concerns huge distances over broken ground and the danger of breaking an ankle. I went to some trouble to find out what kind of daily distances could be sustained over several days. German Jaegers did 60 kilometers a day with their packs on handcarts, a lot of it must have been on roads. Some of Napoleon's troops from his Moscow excursion were exhumed (TV programe) and found to have fractured vertebra (not what killed then of course) from sustained 25 miles daily six days a week marching with packs. None of this covers the dangers of hiking across the Steppe Tundra in minus 15 trying to locate the herds who keep heading into the wind and whose movements are thus as unpredictable as the changing of the wind. Hunting trips of 9 miles total across this terrain would be the welcome exception though equivalent to double that on roads and they had to carry the meat home. 90 miles over a few days might be nearer the mark but it's the danger of lower body injuries that I think could make an additional 40 pounds a liability. Whether I would rather be Dolph Lungren or Max Von Sydow depends on what would be most dangerous to me animals and other men or getting hurt on the steppe. Incidently in Prof. Manning's book he says although strength in the overhead press is corralated with a low 2F4F ratio other lifts are not. He suggests the main effect of prenatal testeronisation is to produce an efficient, precision made circulatory system and has more to do with stamina then strength . If Nordic men do have low finger ratios it could have been most helpful in a Steppe Tundra scenario. The limbs are long further north but the legs are particularly so which might be an advantage for covering ground. The relative length of the lower to upper leg and the size of the calf could that that have adaptive significance for safe walking over broken ground? Thanks for your time and expertise.

Your explaination for gracilization of faces is convincing, especialy since a report (Dienkes) said that broad faced men are more likely to be violent offenders, an aversion to ancestral (or broad) faces would have an effect when women were choosey.

About "doubting the significace" I just thought I picked up from what you wrote a reluctance to beleive that many of our characteristics came about in a time and place when women could not be at all choosey. Lets say "one out of three women could never marry and have children" that would have an effect unlike anything else in human evolution.

Baldie: To examine your gracilization hypothesis, we should look back farther in time. From 400,000 to 150,000 years ago, a human species, Homo heidelbergensis, flourished in Europe, and was found as far up north as England. These humans were taller than just about all European populations today, and they were more muscular/robustly built. Between 175,000 to 27,000 years ago, another human species, Homo neanderthalensis, flourished in Europe, and whereas they were a few inches shorter than modern Europeans, they were much more muscular/robustly built. Some think that Neanderthals descended from heidelbergensis and thus there was no gracilization of body build over a period of hundreds of thousand of years; the decreased height in Neanderthals cannot be assumed to result from gracilization,. Again, this shows that if you are going to derive your food heavily from hunting, being muscular and skeletally well-built is advantageous. Losing muscle and skeletal mass to reduce energy requirements while walking to hunting grounds in the cold north would be a poor strategy.

If you change 9 miles in my previous comment to 27 miles, the energy savings is 3 times greater, but still a mere 288 kilocalories (A Big Mac (McDonald’s) has 560 kilocalories) for a 20-pound loss in weight. Consuming 7 to 8 teaspoons of animal fat would easily make up for the extra energy required by carrying 20 additional pounds, and the extra pounds will be strongly increasing the likelihood of a successful kill. And if you are not convinced of the advantage of 40 additional pounds over 20 additional pounds, also consider this. With 40 additional pounds of muscle and bone, mostly muscle, I will gather similarly powerfully built men, raid a neighboring tribe and capture its men. These men will be given the choice of castration or free food in exchange for a favor, the favor being that we shall go together to hunt, my group does the hunting (they are welcome to join but don’t have to), but they have to drag the remains back home. This way, 6-foot-7, 350-pound Fredrik Thorsson gets to bash the skull of prey but doesn’t have to drag 50 pounds of meat back home. As an added bonus, if we are intercepted on the way by another tribe looking to steal the food, we can have Fredrik greet them with the question, “Is there a problem?”

You don’t have to worry about increased likelihood of leg injuries from greater muscle-skeletal weight while walking. More skeletal mass will correspond to more extensive cartilage cushioning at the joints, and more muscle means increased capacity for work: more work for the same level of muscle injury or a lesser amount of muscle injury for the same amount of work.

Heat loss is a consideration when working in the cold. If you consider a sphere, increasing its size increases its surface area as a function of the square of its radius, but its volume increases as a function of the cube of the radius. Since heat loss depends on the external surface area exposed to the surroundings, heat conservation is better served by packing more mass in the body as the gains from more mass are more than offset by increased skin surface area. So an adaptation to hunting in the cold would be somewhat chunkier physiques with shorter limbs and larger torsos, but this is not the Northern European physique type. In other words, the cold part of hunting in the cold north does not appear to be an important contributor to modern Northern European physique norms.

I don’t know what you mean by agreeing with my explanation of the gracilization of the face. The find of broader faces in men corresponding to greater aggression is very misleading. Here is the study, and it is open access:

This study is very similar to the Weston et al. cited by you, which I have addressed before, and the authors have used the Weston et al. study as a base reference. In short, they only considered the mid-facial region. Masculinization actually causes facial narrowing. If we consider shape only, if the face narrows but the mid-facial length decreases by a relatively greater amount, then the mid-facial region has become broader in shape even though the face is overall narrower.

Thanks for re-explaining how facial narrowing is compatible with mid-facial region shape broadening.
As for gracilization of Steppe Tundra hunters; your expertise in pointing out that the additional bone, muscle, cartilage and presumably ligaments in lower body would more than compensate for any extra mass in walking extreme distances over broken ground is good enough for me, thanks for taking it seriously enough to give a critique.

Picking up on something you used in the critique is poor commenting ettiquette, however your example of Homo heidelbergenus' replacement by Homo neanderthalenis as showing no adaptation to hunting by gracilization cannot be accepted. Boxgrove men were indeed massively strong, carrying 700 kilo woolly rhinos home. That proves they didn't have to go far to hunt, how far would you carry a rhino? Neanderthals lived in caves and seemed to stay put rather than stomping across the steppe tundra, they seem to have attacked by getting close or even jumping on the backs of prey to stab them rather than throwing a spear. The numerous broken bones their remains exibit support this hypothesis. Morever the physique was really adapted to extreme cold including, according to Peter Frost, a coat of fur.

yes, but what about the sex revolution.. "sexual freedom" simply lead to a lot of girls getting USED and DUMPED. Men aren't going to buy the cow when they can get the milk for free..
The sex revolution pegged society as sexually "free" and women are supposed to "enjoy" sex without the "burden" of pregnancy... for once sex is seen as seperate from reproduction... BUT.. the BIG problem is that people's emotions and instincts surrounding sex are "hardwired" into us and are still directly linked to reproduction and the (possibility) of falling pregnant and all it entails...
i.e. women are told to go and have sex and it will all be ok, because they are having "safe sex" and pregnancy will not follow.. but for most girls emotional devastation follows the rise in transient sex and relationships over the past 40 yrs... women release different hormones to men during sex which makes it much harder for them to keep things casual.
Don't forget the sexual revolution of the 60's was forged and created when scientific theory at that time beleived gender to be a "social construct". The societal changes wrought by the sex revolution and the radical feminists are based on the (false) assumption that men and women are innately the same...
Marriage has dropped off remarkably since sex with no strings became more available to men...
Many women want to have kids, but it's all too hard to find committment in a society which men are getting the milk for free, men are not going to buy the cow... hence the rise in both childlessness AND fatherless families.
The sex revolution is a catastrophe for women.....

Very true.

Very true.

I do not believe there is a reason to believe that women place lower importance on attractiveness, if anything it is the opposite. Since we are mammals we must believe we act accordingly unless there is a strong reason to the contrary. I believe it is culture that conditioned women to underestimate the importance of male attractiveness.

My reasons for such belief are:
1- From what I observe the threshold of attractiveness for women is higher than that for men. Many women (heterosexual women)I know stated that the percentage of beautiful women is much more than that of men.
2- Many men are attracted to the plain looking kind of girl (girl next-door beauty) while most women are only attracted to the exotic model quality male only.
3- There is a research that I once read that concluded that there is a higher correlation between the offspring's attractiveness and father's than if is for the mother's attractiveness. Since it is logical to assume that the direction is to inherit the better qualities than the worse, and the father's attractiveness is inherited instead of the mother's, means the father was the more attractive mate since note long ago (at least not long enough to change that mechanism).

The cause of female mate choice reprioritization is that male's competition on females almost immediately creates chaos and aggression, manifestations that seriously wreck organized sociesites. The replacement of weaker less organized of unorganized societies by more adequate societies came with the accompanying system of mate choice. So it's all been only civilization old or a bit older.

Physical Attractiveness is both equally important for men and women, the idea that it is only important for women to be good looking is out of date and incorrect. In bird species, it is actually more important for the male to be attractive.

On the contrary, I believe attractiveness is more important to women, in the wild females are the ones who choose the attractive mate, that's why we - men, should start caring about our looks more than them, hahahaha

hmmm...I'm not sure about all of this. Women do care about men's looks. A lot. For instance, most women won't even consider getting involved with a man who they feel is "too" short. And since it's men who do the approaching, it's women who get to "select," and they will almost always select the tallest and best looking man with a healthy and strong looking body.

Lmao yeah guys aren't going to marry the cow when they can get the milk for free because the only reason guys get married is to have sex hahahaha. Don't EVER compare women to cows. Most of u sound like REALLY intelligent guys with a LOT of free time. Use it for a better cause than arguing over hunter gatherers and primitive this and whatever the f you're talking about.

what is the deal about pippa middleton and her ass? erik, do you think she is attractive? i think she is rather average, cute at best.

I find it hard to believe that there is a naturally stronger emphasis on human female attractiveness, why are males more sexually dimorphic than females among humans and other species?

I think that female mate value is actually less dependent on physical beauty compared to male mate value. At a quick glance all we can see as women are choosier than men, specially younger girls.

In a research of Leonard Lee, George Loewenste and Dan Ariel in Journal Psychological, they found science alogistic regression model was run with members’ decision on whether or not to accept another member’s meeting request as dependent variable and a bunch of predictor variables. Results showed that males were much more likely to accept a dating request implying men are less selective than women. Further in probability terms, males were 240% more likely to say “yes” to potential female dates, than females were to say “yes” to male dates.

In a series of recent studies, researchers investigated the matching hypothesis with actual online daters (Taylor, Fiore, Mendelsohn, & Cheshire, 2011) Cheshire also found that women:

-with higher beauty tended to communicate with more attractive men on the site, with popular men who received high levels of inbound communication.This women are less apt to be responsive in general.

-with low beauty prefer contact and be contacted by handsome men but they are able to accepted to communicate with men in their league behaviour and never lower of their league.

-all women are focused mainly in highly attractive men on the site, irrespective of their own attractive.

However they found that men communicated with beautiful and uglies women irrespective of their own attractive. Researchers found when initiating contact, men and women both contacted people who were more physically attractive than themselves.

Women high in beauty were found to communicate more with men who were also more socially attractive (measured by more initial contacts on the site); women lower in beauty were more likely to communicate with those who had who have an similar level of physically attractive. This pattern did not apply for men.

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