Natural Variation in Human Mating Strategy and the Evolutionary Significance of Mate Choice Criteria

Helen Katherine Perilloux

PhD Thesis 2004

The present studies focus on the two components of female attractiveness, fluctuating asymmetry (FA) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), which are alleged to represent genetic quality and fertility, respectively. Male mating strategies may be characterized by individual differences in sociosexuality, a personality dimension that is predicted to correlate with differential valuation of these two components of female mate value. Three predictions were made: Prediction 1 - Measures of waist-to-hip ratio and symmetry in women are dissociable physical traits; Prediction 2 - Men's individual differences in sociosexuality will differentially affect their valuations of two aspects of women's physical attractiveness, WHR and FA; Prediction 3 - Sociosexuality and parental investment as two opposing components of mating strategy are inversely related to each other.

The relationships among sociosexuality and parental investment, as measured by three indices, (Sociosexuality, Parental Investment, & "Caditude") and male preferences for two components of female physical attractiveness, symmetry and waist-to-hip ratio, were examined in several studies. A sociosexuality questionnaire pilot study, a correlational study of FA and WHR, and three empirical studies were done. The questionnaire pilot study analyzed by factor analysis was done to develop indices of the three predictor variables: sociosexuality, parental investment and caditude.  A correlational study examined the relationship between WHR and FA in a sample of women's images (Prediction 1). Using the sociosexuality questionnaire and visual stimuli of women who varied in WHR and FA, empirical studies of three groups of participants (total n = 273) tested the relationships between sociosexuality and female phenotype (Prediction 2). Finally, another correlational study utilized questionnaire data to examine the relationship between indices of sociosexuality and parental investment (Prediction 3). Support was found for Predictions 1 and 3, but not for Prediction 2. Results and critique of the methodology are discussed along with future implications.