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August 3, 2006

Women are better looking than men — Scientific proof, at long last


Just as you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, you don't need self-important old men in white lab coats at great universities to tell you what's obvious every time you open your eyes and smell the coffee.

Wait a minute... that's not right.

Sometimes I can even smell the coffee before I open my eyes.

In fact, that's what wakes me up, once in a while.

Oh, heck, fugeddaboutit joe, give us the juice already, willya, we don't have time for this nonsense; we're busy and important people.

My bad.

In yesterday's Washington Post "Unconventional Wisdom" feature, social scientist Richard Morin led off with his take on a forthcoming scientific article about attractiveness and its consequences.

Read it below, then we'll chat.

Assuming you're not long since outa here as you would be if you had one iota of sense.

But I digress.

    Perfect 10s and the Odds of a Pink Nursery

    It's no surprise to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently gave birth to a daughter, or that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes also are proud parents of a beautiful baby girl.

    Good-looking parents are 36 percent more likely to give birth to a girl than less-attractive couples — which also explains why women are, on average, better looking than men, argues Kanazawa, a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in a forthcoming article in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

    Kanazawa based his conclusion on data collected during in-home interviews with 2,972 randomly selected young adults in 2001 and 2002. All were parents 18 to 28 years old, and they participated in the ongoing National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. As part of the study, the interviewer rated the respondent's physical attractiveness on a five-point scale that ranged from "very unattractive" to "very attractive."

    Kanazawa compared the percentage of boys and girls born to study participants who were very attractive with the sex ratio of babies born to everyone else. He found that 56 percent of babies born to beautiful parents were girls. For parents in each of the other categories, fewer than half of the babies — 48 percent — were girls.

    But why are beautiful people more likely to have girls? Kanazawa says scientists studying humans and other species have found that parents who possess any heritable trait that increases male reproductive success at a greater rate than female reproductive success will have more males than female babies, and vice versa.

    Because men value physical attractiveness more than women do when looking for a mate, good looks increase the reproductive success of daughters much more than that of sons. So attractive people should have more daughters — which is exactly what Kanazawa found.

    His theory also suggests that, over time, women should have become more attractive than men. These data confirmed his hunch. More than half of all women in the sample — 52 percent — were rated as "attractive" or "very attractive," compared with 42 percent of the men.


So — how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?

More here on the study from this past weekend's Sunday Times, (of the U.K. — for those not British who aren't quite sure which Times is referred to by the phrase).

If you've got $30 you can read Kanazawa's original article, entitled "Beautiful Parents Have More Daughters: A Further Implication of the Generalized Trivers-Willard Hypothesis (gTWH)."

Note: the journal offers a link to the abstract of the article but when you go there you get this.

If you'd rather not skip lunch but still would like to know more you can learn all about the generalized Trivers-Willard hypothesis (gTWH) absolutely free right here.

August 3, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 26, 2006 4:58:48 AM


This is the most biased piece of information I have read in months.

The guy based the information off from the attractiveness of parents, yet failed to include cultural understanding of the way we view beauty.

Could it be that some of the female parents "appeared" more attractive than the males because they have extensive amounts of make-up covering their "less than perfect faces". When you also credit the % of mothers who recieve plastic surgery (a multi billion $ businness) the results appear even more "accurate". Besides, it is reasonable to conclude that the guy who conducted this study is attracted to females sexually and, as always with statistics, are results are a reflection of our own opinions. Just how random were the 2,972 "randomly selected young adults"

Take away the make up and (in some cases) reduce the breast size to what it was before the surgery and remove the push up bra and then see how the results "pan" out.


Posted by: rectorade21 | Apr 7, 2007 2:37:08 PM


Posted by: Neosamurai85 | Aug 4, 2006 8:27:19 PM

So by linking the Trivars-Willard hypothesis are you saying that the reason that "beautiful people" have more female children is that the women are nutritionally depriving themselves? That because "attractive" women tend to have a lower body fat percentage (or are nutrionally depriving themselves to obtain/maintain a lower body fat level) this signals the body that there are less than optimal conditions and creates a bias toward female offspring.

That makes a lot more sense than an article telling me that genes that make a certain gender more attractive will also cause a greater increase in offspring of the same gender. That seem like it would be coincidence and that it would be subject to many variables. I'm also assuming that "attractiveness" is subjective.

Posted by: syarif | Aug 4, 2006 1:59:46 PM

I think the phenomenon that Shawn Lea is referring to could be described as 'regression to the mean'. Two people with extreme heights, say, do not continue to produce offspring with even more extreme values for height. If they did, we would expect that humans would tend to have more and more extreme values for height. This is not observed, though. (Just think of the implications if it were! People who were 10ft tall and people 3 ft tall.) Regression to the mean says that two people at the extremes of some value, 'attractiveness' or height, will be more likely to produce children with less extreme values, i.e., shorter or less attractive.

I don't know how this fits in to Morin's hypothesis, but maybe attractiveness isn't limited in the way that height is, for example. So succeeding generations could continue to get more and more attractive. There is an idea in the field of attractiveness research, that the qualities that are universally regarded as 'attractive', are those qualities that are associated with greater health and higher fertility (Rhodes - Annu Rev Psychol. 2006;57:199-226), among other things.

Interesting article.

Posted by: Dulcinea | Aug 3, 2006 10:13:08 PM

To quote Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL -- "I'M byoo-tee-ful?! Aye-yi-YI-yi-yi..."

Posted by: Flutist | Aug 3, 2006 3:12:08 PM

What I find more fascinating is how two butt-ugly people can have the most beautiful child - and how two gorgeous people can have some pretty plain-looking progeny. I understand that it's a genetic roll of the dice, but it does seem, either way, that the dice should be stacked in your favor (or against you, if your parents fall on the butt-ugly side, I suppose).

If there's not a name for this genetic variation yet, there needs to be one. ;)

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Aug 3, 2006 11:12:12 AM

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