As I have said in the past, I find evolutionary psychology an extremely interesting and important area for understanding human nature. A new study (link no longer available) provides additional evidence for the claim that evolutionary considerations have influenced the different sexual preferences of males and females:
Psychologists have found that while women find men they are familiar with more attractive, men are more drawn to strangers. They say this may be due to a relic in our evolutionary past, where our male ancestors would have tried to mate with as many females as possible. This would have increased the chances of them passing on their genes and is common elsewhere in the animal kingdom. However, women have evolved to seek reliable mates that will support their offspring, and so will become more attached to those already familiar to them.
“Men actually lowered their preference for previously seen female faces,” said Antony Little, the lead author of the study at the University of Stirling. “They found seen female faces particularly less attractive for short-term relationships and while finding seen female faces more trustworthy, found seen female faces as less sexy.” The study, which is published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, found that men only rated unfamiliar females as more attractive. They rated familiar male faces as more attractive then those of strangers.
In a final experiment, the volunteers were also asked to rate each photograph for how similar the facial features were to their current partner. Men tended to find those who had features that were different from their current partner as most attractive.
While this account might give one the impression that evolutionary psychology predicts that women have a simple preference for a single long term mate, the theory’s prediction for females is actually far more complicated. But that is a story for another post.
Update: Of course, evolutionary psychology makes some people angry. Very angry. For an example of a rant addressed to the above story that I found by accident, see here. It almost goes without saying that the piece fails to address any of the claims made by the study.