Thursday, December 04, 2008


For a long while scientists have been saying that the human male's current attraction to female hour-glass figures is because of evolution. E.g., "Universal allure of the hourglass figure: an evolutionary theory of female physical attractiveness."

One explanation based on evolutionary psychological theory is that female beauty as represented by the hourglass figure taps into important biological information about various factors regulating women's reproductive potential and fertility....Finally, evidence is presented showing that equating beauty with the hourglass figure is not a novel or recent phenomenon shaped by the mass media; allure of the hourglass figure is evident across generations in ancient cultures.

But now we are told:
That's because the hormones that make women physically stronger, more competitive and better able to deal with stress also tend to redistribute fat from the hips to the waist.

So in societies and situations where women are under pressure to procure resources and otherwise bring home the bacon, they may be less likely to have the classic hourglass figure, Cashdan hypothesizes in the December issue of the journal Current Anthropology.....

Perhaps the differences between predominant body shapes in some societies have to do with sexual equality, Cashdan said.

In Japan, Greece and Portugal, where women tend to be less economically independent, men place a higher value on a mate's thin waist than men in Britain or Denmark, where there tends to be more sexual equality, Cashdan said. And in some non-Western societies where food is scarce and women bear the responsibility for finding it, men actually prefer larger waist-to-hip ratios.

"Waist-to-hip ratio may indeed be a useful signal to men, then, but whether men prefer a [waist-to-hip ratio] associated with lower or higher androgen/estrogen ratios (or value them equally) should depend on the degree to which they want their mates to be strong, tough, economically successful and politically competitive," Cashdan writes.

That is why I think evolutionary psychology is pretty useless. You can use it to explain anything, or another way of putting it is that it is not falsifiable.


changcho said...

"That is why I think evolutionary psychology is pretty useless. "

You may be right, but for what it's worth I know I do like the hourglass figure!

Arun said...

As long as you know that nobody knows whether you like it as a result of evolution.