Why Do Beautiful Women Sometimes Marry Unattractive Men?

It may be that the unattractive man has a lot of money, or some other compelling attribute.

But a new study by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, suggests it may be a simple supply-and-demand issue: there are more beautiful women in the world than there are handsome men.

Why? Kanazawa argues it’s because good-looking parents are 36% more likely to have a baby daughter as their first child than a baby son — which suggests, evolutionarily speaking, that beauty is a trait more valuable for women than for men. The study was conducted with data from 3,000 Americans, derived from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and was published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

According to this news article, “Selection pressure means when parents have traits they can pass on that are better for boys than for girls, they are more likely to have boys. Such traits include large size, strength and aggression, which might help a man compete for mates. On the other hand, parents with heritable traits that are more advantageous to girls are more likely to have daughters.”

Beauty is apparently just one “female” trait. Kanazawa has done previous research suggesting that nurses, social workers and kindergarten teachers — those with “empathic” traits — also had more daughters than sons. Meanwhile, he found that scientists, mathematicians and engineers are more likely to have sons than daughters.

It is good that Kanazawa is only a researcher and not, say, the president of Harvard. If he were, that last finding about scientists may have gotten him fired.

(Hat tip: Nadine Groney)

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  1. Gov says:

    I would like to know how they determine wether someone is attractive or not. As far as I’m concerned I believe it can be pretty subjective.

    Another thing is that in the article they say that beautiful people are more likely to have a daughter and that this will lead to an increase in the beauty gap between men and women. But what happens to a couple consisting of an attractive woman and a not so handsome man? Will they have a daughter or a son, and is she or he going to be beautiful? Because I assume that as the beauty gap grows, more and more women are gonna have to hook up with less attractive men.

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  2. Gov says:

    I would like to know how they determine wether someone is attractive or not. As far as I’m concerned I believe it can be pretty subjective.

    Another thing is that in the article they say that beautiful people are more likely to have a daughter and that this will lead to an increase in the beauty gap between men and women. But what happens to a couple consisting of an attractive woman and a not so handsome man? Will they have a daughter or a son, and is she or he going to be beautiful? Because I assume that as the beauty gap grows, more and more women are gonna have to hook up with less attractive men.

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  3. queenofsheba says:

    Hm. I’d want to hear somebody talk about the mechanism for this–how do the traits involved influence which sperm does the fertilizing, or is it a third thing that influences/decides both?

    Anyway, saying that scientists are more likely to have sons is bloody different than saying that girls are innately disadvantaged at science.

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  4. queenofsheba says:

    Hm. I’d want to hear somebody talk about the mechanism for this–how do the traits involved influence which sperm does the fertilizing, or is it a third thing that influences/decides both?

    Anyway, saying that scientists are more likely to have sons is bloody different than saying that girls are innately disadvantaged at science.

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  5. psteinx says:

    Without digging into the article/study, I’m suspicious of the results.

    It seems quite likely in both cases here that we’re dealing with correlation, not causality.

    i.e. Examine mothers with only daughters (aged, say 8-15), versus sons. The former will be much more beauty conscious than the latter, primping their makeup, watching their weight, etc, both to inspire their daughters, and because of greater feedback (good and bad from their daughters).

    Mothers with sons have less incentive and less of a feedback loop on beauty-related issues.

    Parents with lots of sons might get involved in athletics in concjunction with their sons’ involvements.

    Mothers might be more inclined to seek and stay on at “empathic” jobs (nurses, etc), if they have many other females (i.e. daughters) in their households.

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  6. psteinx says:

    Without digging into the article/study, I’m suspicious of the results.

    It seems quite likely in both cases here that we’re dealing with correlation, not causality.

    i.e. Examine mothers with only daughters (aged, say 8-15), versus sons. The former will be much more beauty conscious than the latter, primping their makeup, watching their weight, etc, both to inspire their daughters, and because of greater feedback (good and bad from their daughters).

    Mothers with sons have less incentive and less of a feedback loop on beauty-related issues.

    Parents with lots of sons might get involved in athletics in concjunction with their sons’ involvements.

    Mothers might be more inclined to seek and stay on at “empathic” jobs (nurses, etc), if they have many other females (i.e. daughters) in their households.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2