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Dr. David Buss: How Humans Select & Keep Romantic Partners in Short & Long Term | Episode 48
Dr. David Buss: How Humans Select & Keep Romantic Partners in Short & Long Term | Episode 48

Dr. David Buss: How Humans Select & Keep Romantic Partners in Short & Long Term | Episode 48

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Andrew Huberman, David Buss
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Nov 29, 2021
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Welcome to the huberman Lab podcast, where we discuss science and science based tools for everyday life. I'm Andrew huberman, and I'm a professor of neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. My guest today is dr. David Buss. Dr. Bus is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. And he is one of the founding members and luminaries in the field of evolutionary psychology. Dr. Buses laboratory is responsible for understanding.
Ending the strategies that humans use to select mates in the short and long term and is an expert in sex differences in mating strategy. His laboratory is explored for instance. Why women cheat on their spouses or their long-term Partners, as well as why men tend to cheat on their spouses and long-term Partners. He's also explored a number of things related to the courtship dance that we call dating and securing a mate, including the use of deception related.
Proclamations of Love or Promises of finances or sexual activity? Dr. Buses laboratory, has also evaluated how status is assessed meaning, how we evaluate our own worth and our potential as a mate, and who is, let's just say within range of a potential mate, both in the short and long term. For instance. Today. We talk about how people don't just make direct assessments of their own, and other people's value as a potential mate, but also using the assessments of
Is to indirectly determine whether or not they stand a chance or not. In securing somebody as a short or long-term mate, his laboratory has also focused on some of the complicated and varied emotions related to mating love and relationships such as lost and jealousy. And he's extensively explored something called mate poaching or the various strategies that men and women use to make sure that the person that they want to be with or the person they are with is not with anyone else or seeking anyone else and in
He'd that other people don't seek their mate. Dr. Buses work also relates to how biological influences such as ovulation or time within the menstrual cycle influences, mate, selection War tendency to have sex or not with a potential short or long-term mate. And more recent work from dr. Buses. Laboratory focuses on the darker aspects of mating and sexual behavior in humans, including stalking and sexual violence. Today. We discuss all those topics.
We also discuss some of the strategies that humans can use to make healthy mate, selection choices. And for those that are already in committed relationships to ensure healthy progression of those committed relationships. In addition to publishing dozens of landmark, scientific studies. Dr. Bus, has authored, many important books. A few of those include the evolution of desire and why women have sex. And his most recent book is the one that I'm reading now, which is called when men behave badly, the hidden root.
Of sexual deception, harassment and assault. And it's an absolutely fascinating read. It has endorsements from dr. Robert, sapolsky professor at Stanford, who's been on this podcast as a guest before as well as Steven Pinker and Jonathan hate who wrote the coddling of the American mind. It's a really important book, I believe and one that doesn't just get into the darker aspects of human mating behavior, and violence, but also strategies that people can take to ensure healthy mating behavior and relationships.
There's so much rumors speculation and outright fabrication of ideas about why human select particular mates in the short, and long term, what men and women do differently. And so on, what I love about dr. Buses work is that it's grounded in laboratory studies that are highly quantitative using rigorous statistics. And so, throughout today's discussion, you'll notice that I'm wrapped with attention trying to extract as much information. As I can, from. Dr. Boss, about the real science of human make
Selection and mating strategy, I'm certain that everyone will take away extremely valuable knowledge that. They can use an existing or future relationships from this discussion with dr. Bus. Before we begin. I'd like to emphasize that this podcast is separate for my teaching and research roles at Stanford. It is however, part of my desire and effort to bring zero cost to Consumer information about science and science related tools to the general public in keeping with that theme. I'd like to thank the sponsors of today's podcast. Our first sponsor is rokka. Rokka makes
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Now, my conversation with dr. David Buss, David delighted to be here. I've followed your work for a number of years and I'm excited to ask you a number of questions about. He's super interesting topics about how people select mates, how they lie cheat and but also behave well in the dance that we call Mate
Choice. Yes. Yeah, fortunately, there are, there are well behaving humans in the, in the mix here.
Good to know.
Just to start off, perhaps you could just Orient us a little bit about mate choice, you know, some of the primary criteria that studies show men and women use in order to select mates, both. Shall we call them transient mates, as well as lifetime, mates,
right? Well, that's a critical distinction, because what people look for in a long-term committed mateship, like a marriage partner or a long-term.
Antic relationship is different from what people look for in a hook-up or casual sex or one-night stand or even a brief affair. So, so that's actually critical. Wonder if we could maybe just back up a second and just talk a little bit about the theoretical framework for understanding mate Choice. Sure. So it basically stems from Darwin's theory of sexual selection. And most people when they think about Evolution, they think about cliches like survival of the fittest or
Nature red, in tooth and Claw and Darwin noticed that there were phenomena that couldn't be explained by this so-called survival selection, things like the brilliant plumage of peacocks. Sex differences like in, you know, Stags for example, have these massive antlers and the females of the species do not. And so, he came up with the theory of sexual selection, which deals not with the evolution of characteristics, due to their survival Advantage, but rather due to their mating
And he identified two causal processes by which mating Advantage could occur. One is intrasexual competition with the stereotyping to Stags locking horns and combat with the Victor gaining sexual access to the female loser, ambling off with a broken antler and dejected and low self-esteem and needing Psychotherapy perhaps or mate, value Improvement therapy. And the logic was
Whatever qualities led to success in the same sex battles. Those qualities. Get passed on in greater numbers. And so you see Evolution which is change over time and increase in frequency of the characteristics associated with winning these, what Darwin called contest competition. And we know that the logic of that is more General. Now in a Voss things like in our species competing for position and Status hierarchies. So anyway, so intrasexual competition is one but the second most relevant.
Your question about mate. Choice is preferential, mate choice. That was the second causal pathway. And the logic there is that if members of One sex agree with one another, if there's some consensus about the qualities that are desired than those of the opposite. Sex who possess the desired qualities or embody those desired qualities. They have a mating Advantage. They get chosen, they get preferred, those lacking desired qualities, get banished shunned ignored or in the
Modern of armed become in cells. And so the logic there is very simple but also very powerful and that is that whatever qualities are desired consensually desired. If there's some heritable basis to those, then those increase in frequency over time, and so and in the human case, these two causal processes of sexual selection are related to each other. In that the preferences of the mate, preferences of one sex,
If we set the ground rules for competition in the opposite sex, so if for example hypothetically women preferred to mate with men who were able and willing to devote resources to them, then that would create competition on among men to claw their way, you know, and beat out, other men in resource acquisition and then displaying that their willingness to commit that to a particular woman. And same with women though, this one of the interesting things about
In humans, is that we have mutual May Choice, which is not true in all species. So, and that is that it's not just a matter of, you know, you selecting someone to be your mate. They have to reciprocally select you. And so with, mutual mate, mate choice, we have both preferences May preferences that women have and mate preferences that men have and consequently competition among men for access to the most desirable women in,
Competition among women for access to the most desirable man. So that's sort of a little bit of theoretical backdrop. So you asked well, what are the qualities that men and women desire and maybe we'll start with long-term mating. And then shift to short-term, mating and long-term, mating is interesting in. And of itself. In that, it's very rare in the mammalian world. So there are more than 5,000 species of primates of
Which I'm sorry, more than 5,000 species of mammals of which we are one, but the percentage of mammals that have anything resembling, like a pair bonded, long-term mating strategy. It's about 3 to 5%. It's extremely rare and even our closest primate relatives, the chimpanzees. They don't have a long-term mating strategy. They don't have anything resembling pair-bonded, mating them in The Chimps. The females come into estrus, almost all the sexual activity.
Is during the estrus phase after that males and females basically ignore each other, for the most part, with some some exceptions, but with humans, you have the evolution of long-term pair bonding, attachment heavy male investment in Offspring, relatively concealed ovulation. And so, and so these are kind of unique aspects of the human mating system. So, so to get to your question, so what are
The quality. So the, the best the the most large-scale study that's been done on this is study that I did a while back of 37 different cultures and it's now been replicated by other researchers. But basically what we found is three clusters of things. We found qualities that both men and women wanted in a long-term mate, we found some qualities that were sex, differentiated where women prefer the more than men or men prefer the more than women and
Found some attributes that were highly variable across cultures in whether people found these as desirable or indispensable or Irrelevant in a mate and so I could give examples of each of these if
that. Yeah, that will be great. I'd love to know what, some of the common themes were across these cultures in terms of what's being sexy, maid and sexually selected
for. Yeah. So, so some of the things that were. So if you talk about Universal desire,
So things that men and women, share their things like intelligence, kindness, mutual attraction and love, which is really kind of heartwarming, because some people think that love is a recent western invention by some European poets, but it turns out it's not true. You go to the closing song and Botswana and they describe pretty much the same experience as a falling in love, as we do. And even to,
I have the distinction between this kind of infatuation stage of love and the attachment phase where, you know, you can't maintain this frenzy of infatuation and Obsession for very long, six weeks, maybe six months at most. Otherwise you can get nothing else done in your life. And
those are those dopamine circuits firing at high frequency. Yeah.
Yeah. So so so mutual attraction. Love.
Good health, dependability emotional stability. Although, there's a bit of a sex difference there with women, preferring it a bit more than men and so, basically, and these may seem obvious. So, no one wants a stupid mean, ugly, disease-ridden, mate, and so, perhaps obvious, but, but, no one knew this in advance of the 37 culture study. So, these were some Universal preferences. So,
Go to the Zulu tribe in South Africa, or, you know, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, or Portugal, or Oslo, or anywhere in the world. And these are qualities that people universally desire and long-term mates, sex differences. So, sex difference is basically fell into two clusters. So women more than men, prioritized, good earning capacity.
Citee slightly older age and the qualities associated with resource acquisition. So these are things like a man's social status. Does he have Drive? Is the ambitious it does. He have a good long-term resource trajectory, is one way that I like to phrase it. Because women often they don't look at necessarily the resources that a guy possesses at this moment. But what is this? True?
and so Scott, just sorry to interrupt, but may I ask, is there anything known about the commonalities of how that is assessed? You know, it is it, you know, he's rolling out of bed early and running eight miles. He's showing Proficiency in school. He handles himself. Well, socially at parties isn't drinking too much but nose went, you know, I mean, obviously, they're integrating multiple cues. The brain is a complex place, but it is there any information?
Nation about what those variables are across.
Cultures. Yeah. Well, I think that there's been less attention to that. So that's a great question. One of the things that we do know across cultures is that women attend to the attention structure? So, the attention structure is a key determine of status. So does people who are high in status, are those to whom the most people pay the most attention?
So the attention of others to them. Not how well,
In potential, mate, pay can focus and pay attention necessarily.
Yes. Yeah, exactly. And but, but, but women look, I mean, you know, is the guy even in the modern environment is the guy spending eight hours a day playing video games, eating Cheetos and drinking beer or is he devoting effort to his professional development so hard. Work ambition. Does he have clear goals or is he in an existential crisis? Not
and what he's going to do with his life. So those are some of the qualities that, that people look for. And also, women use what's called in the literature, mate Choice copying, and this is related in part to the attention structure. That is guys who have passed the filters of multiple women. Those are like pre-approved pre-approved man. So we've done.
That is where you just take a guy photograph him alone versus take the same guy. Put an attractive woman. Next one. We'll put two women next to them and women judge exactly the same guy to be much more attractive. If there is, if there is paired with women, then if then then if he's not. And so, and some guys exploit this in the modern world, by hiring women to go with them and dates. And so forth, though. This is my sister former girlfriend or whatever.
So, but, but, but you're correct in much in that, women use multiple cues to assess these things and they change over time, you know, so, you know, in the modern environment, even things like the attention structure, does this guy have a million Twitter followers or three Twitter followers. So that is an index of the attention structure. And hence, the status of the guy within the
Our community. So and from an evolutionary perspective. It's reasonable that women would prioritize these qualities because of the tremendous asymmetry in our reproductive biology. Namely that fertilization occurs internally within women, not within men, women bear the burdens of the nine month pregnancy, which is metabolically expensive as well as creating opportunity costs in terms of mobility and, and solving other
Tasks that people need to solve in the course of their lives. And so one way to phrase that is that the costs of making a bad mate choice or much heavier for women when it comes to sexual behavior. Certainly because, and the benefits correspondingly of making a wise. Mate Choice are higher for women in the sexual context. But as I said, we have mutual mate choice in our species. And so,
Amanda value more than women physical attractiveness.
They rank that much as a more important criteria than do women about men. Yes. Yeah, exactly, assistant Lee across
call consistently and it's not that women are indifferent to it. So women do pay attention to a guy's physical appearance, his his Fitness and so forth and guys are actually off base in thinking that women prefer more muscular men than
They actually do so like in muscle magazines, these men are with bulging biceps and so forth. Women don't find that, especially Dairy, but they do prioritize fit men, a good shoulder to hip ratio and other qualities of physical appearance, as well as things like choose to health. So in physical. So physical appearance provides a wealth of information about the person's health status, but also provides for men, a wealth of information about a woman's fertility.
A her reproductive value now. Not that man. Think about that, consciously, I mean, you men don't walk down the street and see a woman and say, oh, I find her attractive because I think she must be very fertile. Maybe a few weird people do that. But most men just, it's like, they just find those cues attractive and the cues are cues associated with youth and health, because we know that youth is a very powerful Q2 fertility and reproductive value. So men, prioritize physical appearance and
And in the field of psychology at used to I was taught When I Was An undergraduate that you can't judge a book by it's cover that physical attractiveness was infinitely, arbitrary infinitely, culturally variable and and it's simply not true. We know now based on the last 20 years of scientific studies that the cues that men find attractive, women are not at all arbitrary. There is some variation across cultures like in
That of plumpness versus thinness but things like clear skin, clear eyes, symmetrical features, a low, waist-to-hip ratio, full lips, lustrous hair. All these are qualities that are associated with youth and health and hence have have evolved to be part of our standards of attractiveness. And so, and so it's not just that men. Are these superficial creatures?
Ooh, evaluate women on the basis of appearance. There's, there's an underlying logic to why they do so. And as I said, relative youth, this this age thing is one of the largest sex differences. You find in long-term mate selection with women preferring somewhat older men and men preferring somewhat younger. Women.
Is there a consistent age Gap through to relate to that
statement? Yes, there is. So the age Gap though. Depends on the
Age of the man. So so we can document this. So, in my studies, what we found is that men preferred women who were about three to four years younger than they were on average. And I'll qualify this in a second women preferred guys who are about three and a half to four and a half years older than they were. So, there was a sex difference going in the opposite direction, but as men get older, they prefer women who are increasingly younger than they are.
So one way to gauge this, so they're their actual marriage statistics and then there are expressed preferences and both sexes kind of converge. So if you look at, you know, first marriage, second marriage, third, marriage. As if people get divorced and remarried, average age Gap is in America. Anyway, is three years at first marriage with the guys being older five years at second marriage and eight years at third me.
Courage, so that it says men are getting older and getting divorced and remarry. They are marrying women who are increasingly younger than they are in terms of preferences. It's also expressed in preferences, so it doesn't go down. So, so like a say, a 25 year old man would say prefer a woman, who's 20 or in her, early twenties, 35 year-old man might prefer a woman who's in her late 20s or early 30s.
50 year old man might prefer a woman who say 35 to 38. So so the preferences do go up but the Gap gets increasingly larger. And the reason that you don't see things like why aren't men preferring women. So Peak fertility in humans is around age, 24, 25. And so you say, well, why aren't the 60 year old man prioritizing 25 year old women? Well,
As I mentioned we have a its reciprocal Mutual mate Choice phenomenon. So
constrains the equation is
she? Well, she constrains it but also marriage and long-term mating are things other than reproductive unions and the modern environment that is there. You know, we are supposed to do things as a couple and if you get too large an age Gap, then essentially you're in different cultures, you know, you, you know, you grow up with different songs and
And and, and if the cultural Gap gets too large, you don't understand each other. So, so there are constraints on that. But if you look at context where there are no constraints of that sort, so, historically, Kings Emperors despots, Etc, and I'll give one more modern example, they basically prefer young fertile, attractive, females. And if they have,
Arms, they stock the harems with those and then circulate them out when they're 30 and so forth. And so, so if you look at marriage systems that are unconstrained, then the preferences are more likely to be revealed or within cultures. That is if you look at men who were in a position to get what they want. So as Mick Jagger noted, you can't always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes you what you need.
I hear that it that most of the time, he got what he
needed. Right? Right. He got what he wanted, right? Yeah.
Yeah, and maybe what he needed but he was in a position. I don't know if he still is either. He's in his 70s now, but he was in a position as was, let's say Rod Stewart, take another example or Leonardo DiCaprio. If you were a male who's in a position where there are thousands of women potentially available to you and you can have your pick. Then you see that clearer expression for younger females. I, there was a chart that was floating around.
Learn at the girlfriends of Leonardo Leonardo DiCaprio as he got older. And as he's getting older and older and the graph of the age of the his girlfriend's, it basically stayed the same was in the early early 20s, or so.
He values
consistency. He is consistency. But so, so any of the data Converge on that, and so these are Universal sex differences in long-term mate selection. So now when we shift to
20 and I should mention cultural variability because that's a critical thing because there is in the my 37 culture study. What I found was the preference for virginity that is no prior sexual experience. That was the most variable desire across cultures. So you had cultures, like at the time of the study China, it was basically indispensable that a partner be a virgin and then
The other end you have Sweden where Sweden swedes typically place close to zero value on it and some even find it undesirable. Like you're a weird if you're a virgin and so you have this whole Spectrum,
this is virginity in the female or is this. Also this is not in when China was it preference at the male and the female be? Okay. It's a mutual
makes a selection. Yeah. It was a preference for both sexes, but it's a good question because we're there was a sex difference. It was
always in the direction of males preferring virginity more than females and we've gone back to China. So I still do research in China among other places and we've gone back and retested Modern urban populations and the importance of virginity has gone down and China, especially in the urban areas and the sex difference that did things this before has now emerged where males value of more than females. And I think part of it was in previous times.
You hit you hit ceiling effects, you know, where both sexes say. Yeah, it's absolutely important to be a virgin. So there's cultural variation and cultural change over time in some of these qualities, but the sex differences that I described have a remain invariant over the years. So, since my 37 culture study, this has been replicated in at least a couple other dozen different cultures. And
We've gone back to some of the culture. So I mentioned we've gone back to China, Brazil and India to look at cultural changes over time. And there have been, you know, in some cases dramatic, cultural changes over time, but the sex differences that I described are invariant. They haven't changed a bit.
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about truth-telling and deception because some of the measures that you're describing age. For instance, one can
Actually lie about right. I'm guessing that there are people who do that online profiles and whatnot. From what I understand, people also lie about height and other features online profiles, but some of them are much harder to hide, right? Eventually the truth comes out about some, if not all of these things. So it, if you would, could you tell us about how men and women leverage deception,
Has truth-telling and communicating some of the things around mate Choice
selection. Yeah. Well, so basically the both men and women do deceive. So we have the modern cultural invention of online dating which you know was little used 10 years ago and virtually absent, 20 years ago and people do lie, but they lie in predictable ways. They lie in ways that attempt to embody the make
Frances of the person they're trying to attract. And so men do lie, they deceive about their income, their status. So they exaggerate their income by about 20 percent. They, they add they tack on about 2 inches to their height. So if they're 510, they Round Up to 6 feet. So they don't like if they're 510, they don't say that they're gigantic, but they kind of rounded up in the more desirable Direction women. Tended.
To deceive about weight. So they tend to shave about 15 pounds off of their reported weight and both sexes. Post photos, that are not truly representative what they actually look like. So they might post photos of themselves when they were younger or they're even advice tips on how to create the best selfie of the best angle, that will maximally, you know, enhance what you look like.
Or two, or just doctoring, a photos. I'm guessing yakar
photoshopping absolutely. And and, and one of the things about it, now he say like, well do people find out? Of course, people people do find out. I mean, I could just give you one story about a colleague of mine who was doing, is a male, who's doing internet dating, and he picked only women who self described as sevens on the 127 on attractiveness. So the most attractive, so as self-reported and so into
And it was one woman and she was missing her front teeth. And he said, we'll call me picky but missing front teeth. And she thinks she's like the top of a drag was he was a little disappointed about that and women of course are disappointed. They meet a guy who they think is this physically fit, you know, athletic guy and he comes up he's you know, 300 pounds and overweight. So people do find out and and so and there are
Some internet dating sites have kind of vetting of the accuracy of something. So some things you can look up through public records and does. This guy have a criminal record for example, is he is he on a, you know, a sexual offenders website. So so there's some things you can verify. But what I tell people is,
You really have to meet the person and interact, you know, because the impart because of the deception. But also because what happens with internet dating is that the physics, the photograph tends to overwhelm all the other cues and all the other cues are written statements. And we weren't really evolved to process written statements, but we were evolve to respond to physical cues, but and
Men tend to attend to the visual cues much more than women. So women in their mate selection they have olfactory cues to what is the guy sound like is vocal qualities, that's auditory cues, but all Factory cues, what does he smell like and so women have a more acute sense of smell than men do and and so if the guy doesn't smell right, even if he embodies all the other qualities, women want, that's a deal-breaker.
And and so I encourage people just you know, stop with the hundred text back and forth or messaging and meet a person for a cup of coffee and interact and then you'll you know, you'll get a more accurate bead on the person and then of course some qualities you can't assess even with a with a half hour interaction. You can tell a lot but things, like, emotional stability, or things that have to be assessed over time. And so one of the
Things that I advise people to do and I'm not in the advice-giving business, but people ask me all the time if they find out what I study, they say, well Tom, I got this problem. Can you give me advice? And, but one of the things to assess things like emotional stability, which is absolutely critical and long-term mating is to do something like go on a trip together. Take take a vacation and where you're even in a unfamiliar environment. Where you're you have to cope with things that you're not familiar with it.
And as opposed to an environment where it's very predictable and and so you get a greater exposure because one of the one of the Hallmarks of emotional, instability is how they respond to stress. So emotionally unstable people tend to have a long latency to return to Baseline after a stressful event. And so this is a sort of information. You can't get on a coffee date, you know, you can
We get by assessing it over time.
Well, somebody who's laboratory studies stress and tools to combat stress either. That's great. It's yet more incentive for people to develop self regulatory mechanisms for themselves. I'm guessing many of the features of deception in this context were present long before internet dating. And so, is it? It's somewhat dark to think about, but is is deception built into this.
The dance that we call Mate selection and has it been built in for a long time or is this or is this something that you think is emerge more? As people are approaching each other through these electronic? Yeah, based mediums.
Yeah, I mean some forms of deception have been there for a long time, over human evolutionary history. So one form of deception, which we haven't mentioned is deception about, whether you're interested in a long-term committed relationship or a short-term hookup.
And so there's deception about that, especially on the part of the men. So men who were interested, like on Tinder, it has been reported. Although tender denies this. There's been reported that something, like, 30% of the man on Tinder, or either married or in long-term committed relationships, and they're looking for something on the side, but the, in terms of successfully attracting a mate, the over display that, hey, I'm interested in just a short time.
Term hook Island interested in sex. I want to have sex right now. Let's just go back to my apartment. These are very ineffective tactics. And so effective tactics for men are often displaying cues to long-term interest. And so, and of course, that's effective for a woman who's seeking a long-term interest. And so, and so that's a deceptive. And so we find in our studies of deception that men tend to exaggerate the depths of their feelings for a woman.
Exaggerate how similar they are and how aligned they were in their values and religious, orientations, and political values, and so forth. And so, and so, I think there's deception around that, and I think that's probably an evolutionarily recurrent form of deception. That women have defenses against by the way, but I think that modern internet dating opens the door for certain types of deception, that it were at a minimum
More difficult to accomplish ancestrally. So like things like photoshopping, you know, wasn't available back. Then plus we evolved in the context of small group living, where you not only had your own personal observations of someone's qualities. You had also the, your relatives, your friends allies, the social reputation that someone had and this is, these are all critical sources of information.
That are less available in modern environments because, you know, people migrate they move from place to place. They can close down one internet profile and put up another or that could have six going simultaneously. So they're so the modern environment opens up the door for forms of deception that weren't available or weren't available to the same degree. Ancestrally. I
Very interesting, would you touch on some of the features that are selected for? In terms of sex sexual partner choice? We talked a little bit about mate choice, but in terms of sexual partner Choice are there is there are there any good studies exploring what people are selecting for or is it that they are both just in a state of Pure hypothalamic Drive, you know, a neuroscientist after all.
And therefore, it's hard to recreate in the laboratory.
Well, no. No, we do know something about that and we know something about how the preference is for a sex partner differ from preference for long-term mate. There is overlap, of course, but one thing is physical appearance. So physical appearance for women is important in long-term mating. Not as important, it is for men, but it becomes more important than short-term mating.
And so is the guy good-looking. So, those physical attributes are more important for women. They are, they remain important for men, physical appearance in short-term mating, but with the footnote that men are willing to drop their standards and short-term mating. If it's low commitment, low-risk, just sex, you know, without entangling commitments.
Women are more likely to prioritize, what I call bad boy qualities. So guys, who are very self-confident, guys, who are strut guys, who are a little arrogant guys, who were risk-taking guys, who defy conventions, women are more attracted to those guys in short-term mating than long-term baiting. And where is it?
Alternating, they go more for the good dad. Qualities. Is this guy Dependable? Is he going to be a good father to my children? And then also in short-term mating women use that make copying heuristic? That is if there are thousands of other women who find him attractive, women find him attractive. And so that's why you have the groupie phenomenons? Or so, with the rock stars. For example, there are thousands of screaming women, all of whom want to
I sleep with this famous rock star and they use that as information. They find if you took, like a still photo of some of these rock stars and asked women, how attractive the guy he is versus, tell him, he's a famous rock star and showed the thousands of women screaming. Adam. They judge them entirely differently terms of his attractiveness. So so are even in this is this is an important point.
That woman's attraction to men is more context specific and varies more across contexts than men's attraction to women. And so I'll give you just an example of that. This is a female colleague of mine went to a conference an academic conference and she found the organizer of this conference to be really attractive. And and then Psalm 6 months later and wondered, what was I thinking, I isn't seen very attractive at all. And what it was is when he was the organizer.
I was at the center of the attention structure, you know, he was the guy up on stage at directing everybody and everyone was attending to him. And then when he was just a normal presenter at a conference, he wasn't didn't command the attention structure, like he did in that when he was the organizer. And so, this is just an illustration of how circumstance, dependent, women's attract a mate, attraction is for guys. It depends on, you know, his status.
Attis the number of women that are attracted to him. The attention structure. Is he how he interacts with a puppy or a baby? If he's ignoring a baby in distress or positively interacting with a young child, all these things worse for men. It almost doesn't matter, you know, context is more irrelevant. They're honing in on the specific psycho physical cues, that the woman is displaying and context be damned
Let's talk about infidelity in committed relationships. What are some of the consistent findings around reasons for and maybe even long-term consequences of infidelity for men and women and this could be marriage or or long-term partnership or you know, infidelity of any kind I suppose.
Yeah, so we're
guessing it does happen. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well,
that's how frequent is it? Yeah, that's that's the interesting thing. Well, well.
How frequent it is, is difficult to gauge? Because it's the the one of the forms of human conduct that people like to keep secret. So, so the if you go back now, say, 70 years to the classic Kinsey studies, the questions about infidelity, were the questions that most people refuse to answer and when the question was, brought up cause more people to drop out of the study, so that kind of tells you something that
What do people conceal? You know, infidelity incest murder, you know, there is a small handful of things that people universally want to conceal. An infidelity is one of them so but people do it and so Kinsey estimated twenty six percent of married women committed an infidelity at some point during their marriage and about 50% of men, other Studies have given lower figures. And so that the the exact figures Bounce Around depending on, you know, anonymity.
Provided and how comfortable they are with the interviewer and so forth. But
and by infidelity as I mean intercourse with somebody else. Yeah, so we're not talking about quote-unquote emotional Affairs. We're talking about this. We're just sex sex with somebody other than their committed partner with unbeknownst to their
partner. Right? Right, and there are other forms of infidelity, which we could get into including emotional, infidelity and financial infidelity, but here we're just talking about for the moment, sexual infidelity and the interesting thing about
Sexual infidelity is that the sex is really differ fundamentally in the motives for committing infidelity. So for men, the primary motive and these are on average sex differences. So whenever I talk about second and I'm talking about on average sex differences because there's overlap in the distributions. And but so these are generalizations of which there are exceptions, so,
So for men, it's it's mainly a matter of sexual variety. So about 70% of the mountain. Mm. It's the opportunity presented itself. I was out of town and I had this opportunity. So low risk, low cost pursuit of sexual variety sexual novelty as a key motivation for men.
Sorry to interrupt. I just want to so 70% of men that cheat. That's the primary cause or is it that 70% of men do cheat?
No, no, seven of the men who cheat 70%, Thank you for that clarification of The Men Who cheat 70% cite that as the key motive. The key reason why they committed an
infidelity or like why mountain climbers climb mountains because they're they're
right because they're there if they well, you know the comedian. I think it was Chris Rock said men are only is faithful was their opportunity
or how how available their password on their phone as to their partner.
Right? Right. Yeah.
So, but and that's an exaggeration. But but if you look at women, this just desire for Pure Novelties. Sexual variety is much less of a motive, but women who have affairs site that they're unhappy with their primary relationship, emotionally, unhappy, or sexually, unhappy, and typically both, and this may seem like totally obvious that. Well, of course, people.
Laughs are unhappy in the relationship or more likely to stray. But in fact, it's not true for men. So if you compare men who are happy with their marriage and then who are not happy with their marriage, there's no difference in their infidelity rates. And I think it goes down to that issue of you know, motive for seeking variety. So now why do women do it? Because it's a risky Endeavor. She risks her long-term made or losing the long term.
Eight. It's risky in terms of reputational damage for both sexes. So it's a risky thing. Why do women do it? And there are two competing hypotheses at least two, but there are two primary competing hypotheses in The evolutionary. Literature one is called the Dual mating strategy hypothesis where women are seeking to get resources in investment from one guy, and good genes from another guy. So in prints and in principle that
That can that can work. And I initially this isn't wasn't hypothesis original with me. This is Steve gang instead, Randy, Thornhill and some others have Marty Hazelton. Former student of mine have advocated. This dual mating strategy hypothesis. And originally, I was in endorsed it because the data seem to support it, we can get into which data seem to support it. But over time, I became more and more dubious about this hypothesis and
Instead of advocated, what I call the mate, switching hypothesis. And so if you look at a whole host of information around why women have affairs, it's not compatible with the Dual mating strategy hypothesis. So and is compatible with the mate switching that is women who are looking to either divest themselves from an existing made ship or trade up in the mating Market.
To a mate, who's more compatible with them or higher and make value or simply see whether they're sufficiently desirable so that it eases the transition into the mating pool or keep keeping a made as a potential backup made with a call Mate insurance. If you have car insurance, if something bad happens to your car, how should house insurance. We also have made Insurance, you know, keeping someone one moment said men are like soup. You always want to have one on the
Burner, so interesting whether that that's the best analogy and I'm not sure. But but it kind of captures something about about why so? So well what evidence am I talking about? Well for one thing women who have affairs and this is about 70% of them,
they eat again. Sorry. Just I want to make sure people of the women who have it was the
women who have a fear. So let's say ballpark Kenzie was let's say roughly, right?
85 26 percent of women who have affairs. Let's just assume that he's right. And we don't know exactly. But of the women who do have affairs about 70 percent, say they have fallen in love with their Affair partner. They become deeply emotionally involved with their Affair for partner and to me, if you're just trying to get good genes from a guy that is the last thing you want to do is fall in love with them or get emotionally involved, but it's very
Compatible, if you want to switch mates, and so the so that's sort of that's one piece of evidence that suggests that women, the mate switching function of infidelity is a more likely explanation that these two are not inherently incompatible hypotheses. In other words, it it's possible that some women do pursue a dual mating strategy hypothesis, but there's other evidence that suggests. So for example, what are the actual
Actual rates of genetic cuckoldry well in the modern environment. Anyway, they're pretty low. It turns out there like two to three percent. Could you
just explain for the audience with genetic code? So
this is where we're the woman where the man believes he is. The genetic father of a child, but it turns out he's not might be the mailman or the next door neighbor, or the guy, she's having an affair with so mistaken, paternity and genetic cuckoldry.
I just want a way to
capture and after the cuckoo bird,
right named after the cuckoo birds. Yes,
who sneaks its eggs into the nest of the other roles, destroys the future, offspring of the right Bird, and then, basically off loads. All the work onto another right
father parasitizes. Yeah, the parental investment of different bird species. So so anyway, so I think that and there's other sources of evidence that I think
Think point. So one of the sources of evidence that initially seem to support the Dual mating strategy. Hypothesis was ovulating and shifts. So in other words, it looked like from the early studies that when women are ovulating. These are among non pill taking women on women, not on a hormonal contraceptives, that they experienced a preference shift toward more men who were masculine and symmetrical which were hypothesized.
Is for good genes and there's an explanation for that but it turns out the effects of ovulation on women's May preferences or a far weaker than initially, then the initial studies look like. And in fact, some larger scale Studies have failed to replicate them entirely. And so it's that was one of the key source of evidence. These ovulation ships that women were going after good genes because it's only when she's ovulating and she can get pregnant.
Don't by having sex with another man that it would make sense for her to have sex with another man. And there was even some early evidence that women and were timing their Affairs, timing sex with their Affair Partners to coincide with when they were ovulating. But as I said, some of these subsequent Studies have failed to replicate these early findings calling into question the Dual mating strategy notion. And so, I think I've shifted my views on this and now,
I'll endorse the made switching hypothesis as a more likely explanation for why most women have
affairs. The way you describe. This makes me wonder if when of the women that have affairs, do those Affairs tend to be more long lasting than the Affairs that men have. Because the way you described it is, men are seizing an opportunity to sort of a carpet diem type approach. Yeah, infidelity and women potentially on average are capitalizing on something.
That is longer term. Now. Of course, if they're doing this around ovulation, then it would constrain the amount of times. They would need to see or have sex with the other person that they're not married to. But is there any evidence that women have more ongoing Affairs in man? Men have trans more, transient Affair?
Yes. Yeah, there is. And so if you look at people who have affairs, there's a sex difference there so that women tend to have affairs with one person and become emotionally involved.
That one person over time. Men tend to have affairs tend to have affairs with a larger number of Affair partners. And so, which then by definition can't be long. Last, you can't have a long-term affairs with six different partners.
Yeah, unless he's juggling multiple phone accounts or
something, right? So, right? And some men tried to do that, but I think it's a could be very taxing.
Yeah. Well, and in this day and age, it's it's easier to meet more people.
People by virtue of online Communications, but it's also easier to get caught. Meaning it's harder to conceal, interactions. Everything is in the cloud. Anyway, a good friend of mine, who's a former very high level, and Special Operations, said, anything that's not in your head and only in your head is available for others to. Yeah. Find should they want it? Yeah, I think that's. And I think that's largely true.
Yeah, and, yeah. So fun information, text messages. And people are very good at
Looking into their Partners funds computers and then also their video cameras everywhere. So, sneaking off to this quiet restaurant. I mean, they're probably eight video cameras that can record you walking in and out of that
restaurant. Everything can be found. Yeah. I'm certain of that. You mentioned, emotional Affairs and financial infidelity as well. I had a girlfriend once Who as a early date discussion said
Not that. I get the impression that you are, but I want to be very clear. She said that you are not emotionally physically or financially tied to any other women. And I thought was very interesting that now you bring up a financial infidelity. She's quite happily partnered now and not with me, but but it's interesting is the first time I heard anyone, spell it out that way as a list almost like specific games in a grant, what is emotional infidelity. What is financial
infidelity? Yeah. Well,
Is a very smart woman, that's really tough is all three. And so and I assumed you were, you gave honest responses to all of those three
questions as I recall, I did. But because we now know that they're well, you can ask her at some point, right about it. All right? You are
and there's self-deception in the service of deception. That is another issue. So emotional, infidelity is basically exactly what it sounds like. It's falling in love with someone else becoming psychologically close to
Someone else sharing intimate or private information with someone else. That's what I mean by emotional infidelity. And one of the Hallmarks of this study done by a former student of my berry, coulis is very clever. I thought he analyzed there used to be this reality TV show called cheaters where they would hire detectives. And they would when the detective with like, say, follow someone to a hotel room, they call up the partner and
Say your husband just walked into the hotel room with someone else. Do you would you like to come down to the hotel and confront him and certain percentage of people would confront and what he analyzed? So, he analyzed all these episodes of this show called cheaters. And what he examined was the verbal interrogations when people confronted their partners and when men confronted their Partners, the first question they want to know, is, did you fuck him women?
The first question was, do you love her? And so this kind of captures that difference between a sexual infidelity and emotional infidelity and also kind of captures another sex difference when it comes to sexual jealousy, you know, where men tend to be more focused on the sexual components of the infidelity, because those are what compromise his paternity certainty is certainty. That he's actual actually. The genetic father of whatever.
Um Offspring and Sue whereas love is a cue to do you love her? That's a cue that he's going to leave you the woman for another woman as a cue that to the long-term loss of that investment and commitment from that partner. And so and so the sex is seem to differ in which aspects of the infidelity with women were attuned to a more upset by the emotional.
Fidelity men more by the sexual infidelity. Now, Financial infidelity has been explored much less, but in my new book when men behave badly, I have a section on financial infidelity or I summarize all the research that has been done and I was kind of flabbergasted by the percentage of people who do things like have credit cards that their spouse doesn't know about keep secret bank accounts, have the credit card bills, mail to their office rather than their home. How
Of basically resources and expenditures of pooled resources that they keep from their partner and both sexes, do it and and the percentages vary from study to study. But they range from like 30 to 60 percent of all people who are keeping financial information from their, from, their spouse in one way or another. Could be the woman's out buying designer purses or designer handbags could be the guys out.
About going to strip clubs or taking his affair partner to restaurants and doesn't want those charges to show up on you know, jointly held credit card. So Financial infidelity is critical and that even things like diverting pooled resources to one set of genetic relatives versus another set. Is another thing that people tend to keep secret. So there are forms of financial infidelity as
Well, so yeah, infidelity, you're absolutely, it's a great question because it shouldn't be confined to sexual infidelity, which is what most people think about, but also emotional and financial interesting lie, if you ask people, what do you mean? What what is infidelity in a marriage men? Tend to say, well, it's obvious. As she has sex with someone else. That's infidelity. Whereas women are more likely to have a broader definition.
Mission of infidelity they will cite things like emotional infidelity Financial infidelity as part of the definition. Whereas men have that more narrow definition.
Interesting. I have a good friend who's a, couple's, counselor clinical psychologist. And she told me something interesting that relates to this, which is that in cases of infidelity, often times. The sum of the arguments between couples boil down to whether or not contraception was used or not. That becomes a key feature.
And she always thought that that was, you know, home homing in on a detail, which of course is an important detail as it relates to both paternity issues and pregnancy but also disease, right? But as we're talking about all this, it makes it makes me think that this may have deeper evolutionary roots in our further down in the brain as we say. And yeah,
there are some yeah, and yeah, and I'm using a condom versus not use.
Being a condom not using as a more intimate act in a way. You were, literally physically more intimate with someone else than if you do use a condom. So, you know, but whether it's weather evolutionary roots to this, I don't know. I mean, condoms are probably relatively recent in, or at least a widespread use of them relatively recent in evolutionary time. So I doubt we have adaptation specifically for them.
No. And presumably before condoms at
One can only speculate because as we say with and it comes to behavior, there's rarely a fossil record, but sometimes there is it would be the withdrawal method of contraception, which a good friend of mine who studies whose laboratory works on reproductive biology says, the reason that's a poor choice of contraception is because it was designed not to work. Yes, so note note to those of trying to avoid unwanted pregnancy. So we talked a little bit about status in terms of what men and women are.
Acting for four different types of relationships. Is there anything else about status that you find particularly interesting? And you know what? Men are finding attractive besides these, you know waist to hip ratio, 's and quality of potential mothers and so forth, there any kind of hidden gems in the literature around this that might not have heard
of well. Yeah, so you mean among
You know, things like sex differences in what leads to high status or or
for instance or what or perhaps things that are surprising in terms of what people are selecting for. Do people even know what they're selecting for. This is or is this all subconscious any? And all of those topics are of interest to
me? Yeah. So we'll to take them in reverse order. You know, I think a lot of it is conscious, but some of it is certainly unconscious where there are elements which are
Are totally unconscious. So I mentioned one earlier where man looks at a woman. He's not, he's aware that he's attracted to her and attracted to her physical appearance, but he might not be aware of why, you know, we didn't evolve to be aware of why just like with food preferences. We find certain things delectable and other things nauseating. We don't understand the Adaptive logic of why our food preferences exist and why we have them and the
Drew amazing, you know. And so men find women with with a low, waist-to-hip ratio attractive, but they might not the, they almost rarely rarely. Will they know? Oh Louise. Waist-hip ratio is actually associated with higher fertility, lower endocrine, logical problems. You lower age, Etc. So so we're sometimes aware of what we want, but we are unaware of why we
Want it so so think they're unconscious elements that the whole topic of status and what leads to high status on low status topic. I'm currently investigating published a couple scientific articles on it. And so but maybe we'll hold off on that for a future discussion. But but it enter it intersects, I'll mention one it, intersects with mating in interesting ways. In that higher status gives people the
Ability to choose from a wider pool of potential mates than they would if they have low status. And so one of the reasons that people strive for status is because they have access to more desirable mates conversely, having desirable mates in douse, you with higher status. And so if you have, if you're a male, you have a very attractive woman on your arm that leads to
High status. And so there's a reciprocal link between status and mating in that way. And there have been studies where you say they oppose a kind of unattractive, guy, older, unattractive, guy, and a stunningly beautiful woman as a girlfriend. And they say, well what what's this guy all about and they say, oh, he must be very high in status. He must be very wealthy. You must have a lot going for him. You know, where is the reverse?
Don't make the same attributions. And so. And so there is an interesting reciprocal link between status and mating success, where make success leads to high status and Status leads to more mating success to
over and over again. There are these instances that you describe where the assessment of potential, mate, sexual or long-term partnership are being made in the contents of good statistical practices. Looking at the choices of others, as a readout of your
Own choices that I keep. This seems to be a theme that this is not being made in a very narrow context, but paying attention to what other people are paying attention to. It seems to come up again and again, slightly off-center from that, but still paying attention to what other people are paying attention to what's known about jealousy in men versus women and how frequent it is, how intense it is. And what people do with that jealousy. I mean, we hear or I've heard at some point that
Large fraction of homicides are the consequence of jealous lovers. That's the darkest angle of all this but in evolutionary psychology context, what is jealousy does it relate to paternity issues only.
Yeah, so well as a great set of questions, and and when I first started studying jealousy, I reviewed all the prior Publications on jealousy. And at that time,
Jealousy was regarded as a sign of immaturity, a sign of insecurity, a sign of neurosis or pathology, or in some cases delusion. And what I argued is and do argue is that jealousy is an evolved emotion. That serves several adaptive functions. Okay. One of which you mentioned is is a paternity certainty.
But but to back up a second. Basically, once you have the evolution of long-term mating long-term pair bonds, you're talking about, from a male perspective, investing a tremendous amount of resources in a woman and her children over years or decades, you with Boomerang Kids, and now maybe even go more than two decades
Boomerang Kids. Yeah,
kids kids who leave home and then come back and live at home because I have because they oh, yeah, that I don't have.
Children, so, I okay. Yeah. No, that's a big thing.
But if I do I'll just expect that they'll come back and they'll
come back to the they can't find a job or they find it cheaper to live at the parents house or whatever.
Oh goodness. I can't think of anything worse. I mean, I love my parents,
but I know I can't imagine but, but it happens and it's happening more and more in the given the current economic situation. Okay, but so once you have long-term mating, you need a
Fence to prevent or preserve the investment that you've made and are making, and long-term mateship. And so jealousy serves this mate guarding function if you will, or mate retention function. So, in other words, one way of phrasing, this is that we know that they're there Affairs. We know that people break up, they get divorced, but people have adaptations to want to hold on to their mates. Okay, and that's what jealousies import about.
And so jealous, he gets activated. When there are threats to that romantic relationship. There are other forms of jealousy, like sibling Jealousy and so forth, but we're focusing on mating jealousy in this context. So now what's interesting is that the threats to an ongoing valued romantic relationship, come from many sources, so they could be you detect cues to your partner's infidelity or cues.
Lack of an emotional distance between you and your partner. You you say I love you to your partner and your partner says wonder how the how the Knicks are doing this scoring season or whatever. If you get an unrestricted, I love you's a bad Cube
or a half for some people are so tuned to this. If there's a half millisecond delay, right? We can detect delays in
response. Yes. Yeah, delays and responses, but even things like so that's one set of cues, but then there's another
Set of interested make poachers. So, you know, if you're mated to someone who's desirable which many people are other, people still desire them. And so sometimes try to poach them were lure them away from you for a short term sexual encounter, or for a longer-term relationship. And so we have to be so jealous. He motivates people to be attentive to potential mate poachers in their environment, but even more subtle, things like mate value,
Is can trigger jealousy. So even if there are no mate poachers and no cused infidelity, if a mate value discrepancy opens up in a relationship. So in the American system, by cure, six, or an eight, or a ten, and people generally pair off based on similarity and make value. So
that tends to happen. Tennis is end up with six s7's end up with 6X plus or minus
one. Yeah. Yeah, right. So yeah,