Thursday, September 30, 2010

One-Night Stands Explained: Men Prefer Hot Bods to Pretty Faces


One-Night Stands Explained: Men Prefer Hot Bods to Pretty Faces

By Bonnie Rochman Wednesday, September 29, 2010 
Ladies, hit the gym (and hold the makeup). Unless you're gunning for a long-term relationship, it's your hot bod — and not your winsome face — that guys are after.
New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows that men seeking a short-term lover are more interested in a woman's body than those desiring a long-term commitment,  who zeroed in on a woman's face.
The research, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, originated from a premise: a woman's body reveals more insight into her immediate baby-making potential than her face, which is more of a window into her long-term reproductive value.
What sparked the research in the first place? Though there's been plenty of analysis of what makes a face attractive (symmetry, for example) or the body beautiful (most notably, waist-to-hip ratio), the preference for body over face had not been explored. 
“There are terms like ‘butterface' out there — everything's perfect but-her-face, and that stimulated a thought about whether bodily attractiveness conveys something different than facial attractiveness,” says psychology graduate student Jaime Confer, who co-authored the research with graduate student Carin Perilloux and Professor David Buss
For instance, a woman's face can predict how many years of baby-making she has ahead of her. Is it wrinkled? Move on, fellas. Smooth and supple, of course, indicates youth. A 16-year-old girl, for example, is not at the peak of her fertility – that happens around age 24 — although she is at the peak of her reproductive potential. Seeking a long-term mate able to incubate lots of offspring? Choose her.
The female body, on the other hand, offers different fertility clues: Can she get pregnant right now? Is she pregnant already? And don't forget the waist-to-hip ratio, which research has suggested decreases at ovulation. Ergo, a curvy woman is highly desirable as a short-term mate since there's ample evidence she's a Fertile Myrtle in the making.  
Men hone in on these fertile cues, which are more concentrated in a woman's body,” says Confer. “We are talking about evolved psychological mechanisms to prioritize access to immediately fertile women. Men care more about can she get pregnant right now than her long-term reproductive potential.”
But wait: Since when do men out for an evening of casual sex want that evening to culminate with conception?
Blame it on the principle of natural selection. “This is operating outside of conscious awareness,” says Confer. “Men still have this proclivity to become more interested in a woman's body even if they don't want to get her pregnant.”
Only men, not women, showed a significant preference for body vs. face when seeking short- vs. long-term partners.  Women were more interested in a man's face for both short- or long-term relationships. 
That makes sense since men's fertility doesn't decline rapidly like women's. Assume, says Confer,  that any man under the age of 80 can get a woman pregnant. If that's the case, there's  no reason for a woman to be concerned with a man's fertility, and, hence, his body.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers showed 375 college students a representation of a person of the opposite sex, whose face and body were hidden. Half the participants were instructed to evaluate the images as a potential short-term mate; the rest were told to consider the image as a potential long-term mate by uncovering face or body — not both.
Just over half of the guys — 51% — who were told to pick the proverbial one-night stand chose to look at the woman's body. On the other hand, 75% of men who were directed to consider the woman as a long-term partner decided to check out her face.
Up next: The researchers may wade into trickier territory if they move forward with follow-up research asking subjects if they want to see the faces or bodies of potential rivals who may be stealing their partners.  Which is more threatening: a pretty face or a rockin' physique? Stay tuned… 
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  1. Very interesting but a little misleading. Only 51% of men chose to took at the body. 49% still chose the face. Hardly a massive majority, the way the article was written you would have thought 99% of men to have picked the body.

    Really the article should have said men are pretty evenly split between whether they wanted to look at the body or the face for a ONS, though it went up to 3/4 choosing face for LTR. I agree there is a definite trend there for 1/4 of the men to switch to body for a ONS.

    These Evo-psych theories are interesting but very two dimensional, humans are far more complex than that!

    They should have taken it one step further and evaluated the men to see if they tended more towards being 'cads' or 'dads'. Also, College student men are not representative of all men!

    I'd really like to see broader sample representation before they come out with these 'facts' but I know its a lot slower and more expensive to do studies on representative populations.

    How does the theory hold up with the other theory that men will have sex with anything, even animals and objects? Is that only if they can't get the hot bod or pretty face?


  2. The "other theory"? That's not a theory any more than a theory that women will have sex with small vibrating appliances!

    What I find interesting about 'evolutionary psychology' (more like behavioural archeology) is that it can help us understand things that, in our newly-invented 'normal culture' (we need to seek out life-long partners, we need to raise kids in individual homes/nuclear families, etc.). Take, for example, teens. Their anti-family behaviour seems counter-intuitive. Globally, they become recalcitrant, belligerent, identify more with friends than family. Why?

    Simple, if we look at the way we evolved, living in small family-connected tribes in an unforgiving environment. Teens are hitting sexual maturity and will soon have to risk their lives, if they are males, by going out hunting or to war, the females will soon become impregnated, often by older males. They are at a stage in human development where it is important that they cleave their family ties -- they need to develop independence/self-sufficiency, take risks and leave the tribe to ensure genetic diversity.

    In modern times we live in cities and isolated living quarters and can't fathom why kids who will not leave their families for many years act in a way that seems to punish the people who care for them. In our natural state 100,000 years ago, teens had to bond with same-age friends from other tribes who would become their adult support network for the rest of their lives.

    Similarly with video gaming addiction, these teenage boys are learning skills, absorbing new ways to perfect hand-eye coordination. They are at a stage where, in our evolution, they had to learn how to shoot arrows, set traps, etc. That pre-teen and teenage interest in 'play' was essential to the survival of the individual, tribe and species.

    How evo-psych applies to males' sexual interest in mature women is very simple. Once women passed about 35, it became dangerous for them to produce children. For a nomadic tribe, a Downs Syndrome child would have been a very dangerous liability.

    But back to your 'other theory', yes, some of the males in the tribe, in lieu of the prime-child-bearing aged women we are naturally attracted to (40 year old studies proved that men will become sexually aroused by merely being shown outlines/silhouettes of curvy female forms) will have sex with any women who make themselves available, but if most men were not naturally most sexually interested in younger women, the species would not have survived.

    Which brings us to erectile dysfunction prevalent in so many mature couples. We all seem to think it is a real issue, that all these mature men have a problem that is age/health-related. I would like to see a study that tests just how much trouble all these dysfunctional old guys have in the bedroom with 18 year old girls instead of their same-age partners. I'm not saying, I just saying...



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