the evolutionary biologist Bobbi Low. Symmetry of features, especially of the face, is another indicator of good genes; it requires a normal development in the womb and is thus a marker for general health. There are of course variations on the general theme. Among the !Kung, men are driven wild by a sizable protuberance of fat on a woman's buttocks, presumably a signal of being able to nourish a child in difficult environments. Because reproduction is a greater risk and investment for women than for men, according to the biologist Robert Trivers, it follows that women will be more choosy about their partners than men are; and because women are more selective, men will find themselves being more competitive with each other for women's favors. A woman looks for indicators not just of good health in a man but also of commitment to look after her and her family. This is a matter partly of emotional commitment, which women assess with care, and also of wealth or the ability to acquire it, as may be indicated by a man's social status. Surveys conducted over many years have consistently indicated that American women care more about a partner's wealth than men do. The evolutionary psychologist David Buss expanded this survey to 10,000 individuals in 37 world cultures and found the same pattern—that women placed more value than did men on a partner's financial prospects. Women in almost all cultures prefer men of high status, presumably because this is likely to be correlated with wealth. Women consistently prefer men who are slightly older, for reasons that are not obvious. The preference could be a holdover, Buss suggests, from hunter-gatherer days when older men, at least through their twenties and thirties, were stronger and better able to offer physical
Was this article helpful?