September 02, 2008

Female attractiveness not linked to higher reproductive success in rural Poland

Coll Antropol. 2008 Jun;32(2):457-60.

Is female attractiveness related to final reproductive success?

Pawlowski B, Boothroyd LG, Perrett DI, Kluska S.

In order to test the assumption that female attractiveness relates to reproductive success, photographs of 47 rural Polish women taken in their youth were rated for attractiveness, and BMI at age 18 was recorded; these measures of attractiveness were then compared with their subsequent life histories. Facial attractiveness did not relate to number of children or grandchildren. It also did not relate to age of marriage or husband's education. It did relate to number of marriages and husband's height. BMI at age 18 did not relate significantly to any of the outcome variables. These results suggest that although more attractive women may have married higher quality (taller) husbands and may in ancestral population have achieved greater reproductive success this way, there is no evidence in a modern, European Catholic society for their having greater reproductive success.

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7 comments:

deployyaspam said...

I doubt this study. The number of offspring is not the only base of reproductional sucess.

Why? Lets consider as follows:

a) woman 1 is more attractive than woman 2
b) And women one therefore gives birth to their children earlier than women 2

I calculated with a generation course of 25 year for w1 and 30 years for w2. Both having 3 children. (One can take any other, more realistic, numbers of course - the result remain the same)

As one can see after the period of 150 year the 6th generation descendants of women 1 count 729 while the the descendants of women 2 count only 243 in 5th generation.
Hence the offspring of woman 1 will make up a larger part of the society. Although having the same number of offspring , reproductional success is not identical.

I hope you got my idea?

dienekesp said...

What you are saying is that the generation length is different for attractive and non-attractive women. I don't agree that attractive women will get tend to get married earlier, rather the opposite. Attractive women can afford to wait for a "good catch", whereas unattractive women are more likely to be married off by their relatives early before their looks completely deteriorate. It is usually the less attractive women that have early marriage as a top priority.

Jason Malloy said...

Facial attractiveness did not relate to number of children or grandchildren. It also did not relate to age of marriage or husband's education. It did relate to number of marriages and husband's height.

This is not true in the United States and Canada. Economist Dean Hamermesh found that unattractive women have husbands that have lower education and less earnings. This makes sense for two reasons:

1) unattractive women would have relatively unattractive husbands due to homogamy, and unnatractive men earn less.
And 2) women often trade youth and attractiveness for status and money in the mating market. (due to innate sex differences in mate preference)

It's unusual that this doesn't happen in Poland; I wonder why? If poor men in Poland have equally attractive wives, what's the point of even working harder!

Jason Malloy said...

Also to the extent that socioeconomic status is related to child mortality, and that attractive women have higher status husbands, attractive women would have had greater reproductive success across many different periods of history.

There is evidence for this in that attractiveness is a sexually dimorphic trait (women are rated as more attractive than men). Also aspects of attractiveness, such as waist to hip ratio, do correlate with reproductive success. (seems like the Polish study only looked at face and BMI)

Jason Malloy said...

... did not relate to age of marriage or husband's education. It did relate to number of marriages and husband's height.

Height, which is correlated with IQ (but between families not within families), is also associated with education levels in the US.

Are height and IQ not associated in Poland?

eurologist said...

In the western societies I know, among the less educated (say bottom 50% percentile), the prettier woman have kids (get "knocked up") first, and will have more children and will have those earlier. This seems self-evident, and has nothing to do with the concept of marriage, which in its current and religious forms has certainly no resemblance to times just a few hundred years ago, let alone the majority of our existence as a species.

Kosmo said...

It's interesting that in terms of the mating game, male height in Poland seems to function as a stand-in for male education/success/earning-power here in the US.

Why would that be? Could height function as a signal for success in Poland? Is some population substructure at work? (with taller individuals tending to come from certain backgrounds, and shorter individuals from others-- such as with India.)

As it is, the study results defy logic. Something interesting is going on.