Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Possible Implication for Evolutionary Psychology

In general, evolutionary psychologists have reckoned that the mechanisms that are involved in present-day mate selection by humans largely emerged during the Pleistocene era. These would include for males facial symmetry, muscular physique, physical dominance, athletic prowess, and other traits associated with the alpha males and high levels of testosterone. For females it would include having a youthful appearance, facial beauty, large breasts, and other traits associated with reproductive success.

In general, these are the traits most exaggerated in the dominance hierarchies in high schoolers.  As a matter of fact, the Environment of Evolutionary Action (which some think of as the the Pleistocene era!) is still functioning in a typical high school in the USA.

However, these same traits were differentially selected when different selection processes were operational: those of the prehistoric humans, sometimes loosely referred to as cave persons. (Being able to live in a cave was probably a rare luxury at that time.) This did not include changes which have taken place since then: longer life spans, necessity for education, later ages for pairing off, and greater survivability of a given person. In short, for industrialized cultures, the likelihood of becoming an adult is fairly high. And those traits which still draw attraction serve less of an evolutionary function.

Would it be possible, with time, for certain additional traits to be evolutionarily selected? For example, would young girls start becoming attracted more to guys who were smart enough to learn calculus or be verbally clever or artistic?! And guys may show a parallel evolutionary convergence, in turn: Why be content with a dumb bunny with large breasts when you can have a literate or biochemistry-capable girlfriend with large breasts! (In fact, hers could even be store-bought; most guys may be happy with either type!)

Actually, I exaggerate. If the end result of such adaptations as cosmetics, improved diet, execise, and other means improve on the basal characteristics of people, these previously potent sources of human variation become less important. And, by default, being more intelligent provides and adaptation premium, albeit a small one.  Nevertheless, over evolutionary time this can be significant.

I must confess to liking nerds and geeks.  As such, I may be a force in human evolution, which is still going on!


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting and hopeful flight of fancy. I hope you are right.

Banana Oil said...

I like them big and stupid.

Bilbo said...

"Why be content with a dumb bunny with large breasts when you can have a literate or biochemistry-capable girlfriend with large breasts!" YES!! I think I'm in love. Or lust. Whatever. If the girl (or the boy) has the IQ of an anvil, there won't be much to sustain the relationship once gravity and time begin to take their toll. Geeks, unite!