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In the Eye of the Beholder

cokacoka/iStockphoto

cokacoka/iStockphoto

By Michael Kasumovic

Beauty is a subjective value, but studies are finding that mate choice is often affected by upbringing, self-esteem and previous experiences in courtship.

Michael Kasumovic is a Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of NSW.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

People are a complicated, and our understanding of what we find attractive in a partner is just as complex. Some prefer a perfectly coiffed hairstyle or a sly smile while others like bulging biceps or a smart sense of style.

In fact, the one thing we can be sure of is that there would be as many descriptions of what is attractive as there are people in a room! That’s because there is no simple definition of beauty: it is something personal to the individuals.

But if each of us has different perceptions of what we find beautiful, what is it that shapes these ideals? And more importantly, why do our preferences change as our situations do, especially as we age?

My research explores these questions in non-human animals because of the ease with which we can manipulate traits and subsequently observe which individuals mate. But how can understanding mate choice in crickets and spiders help us understand the complexity of mate choice in humans?

It turns out that decades of research on a wide variety of non-human animals can provide some interesting insight into understanding human mate choice. The one thing I’ve learned with my foray into human research is that despite the complexity that revolves around human behaviour and choice, we have more in common with other animals than we think.

Choice, Choosiness, and Success

Whether it...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.