Thursday, April 30, 2009

Relationship Possibility Frontier


Hat Tip: Astrid Arca

17 comments:

Suzie said...

Love it..... but can you define the null section?

Will Luther said...

A null set is an empty set.
(The implication from the chart is that you'll never find someone who is both incredibly smart and incredibly attractive because that particular set is empty).

Suzie said...

that is what I thought it meant....and you believe that? There is no one who fills that section?

Will Luther said...

It is a testable hypothesis.

Suzie said...

Not to belabor the point, (I just think it is a pretty fun topic) but, you would think if everyone around or below that point are getting married and reproducing (as is suggested in your graph), those would be more of the traits you would see in the population. Especially if there are a few people in the null set, it seems (unless there some other factors playing a role in this determination) they would be first picked to marry & mate recycling their genes into the population pool, bringing more of their desirable offspring to the mating game thereby filling up that null set or near just outside of it. Evolutionary Biology, gotta’ love it.
(P.S. I linked this post to my facebook page and you received many compliments)

Matt E. Ryan said...

Alas, preferences are subjective; even if everyone's graph has shapes like this, different preferences for subsets along each axis would generate heterogeneous mate pursuits, and a range characteristics in the long run.

Suzie said...

Touché. I still don’t buy the null set though :)

Suzie said...

However if you buy into sexual selection theory, there are some norms about male and female mate selection. A very crude summary of what I learned in an undergrad class: both want healthy mates who will invest in offspring, however in addition, men would select more frequently off of physical attractiveness due to it being a signal of fertility, whereas women would select off of the ability to provide/obtain resources. While there were outliers in the selection process, the majority of individuals selected on these categories and that process has brought us to our current gene pool.

Now the question is with the way our society has progressed, what categories are women and men focusing on now - are there general categories (beauty and brains?) that the majority are selecting on or are there no general trends?

(Although, as I commented on another post: my mind wanders to the couple: an old financially stable white guy and a beautiful young female Filipino).

Will Luther said...

I immediately thought about drawing in a budget constraint to include one's own characteristics in terms of physical and mental attractiveness. But it is not entirely clear to me how that would look.

Suzie said...

While chatting with Prof. Ross about this post, he suggested I read The Economic Naturalist. One piece of it that is relevant here was where Robert Frank was citing other studies that showed in general someone's budget was based on their combined total. For example the guy was rated a 5 on brains & 5 on beauty = 10 total. Therefore he could spend this anyway he wanted. He could match with a female who was a 9 on beauty and a 1 on brains, but in general the totals are normally pretty even. Take it for what it is worth, but that may (or may not) help the graph progression.

Suzie said...

After re-reading the section, he actually doesn't quote any studies just notes that it is common to think about it in these terms. Just thought I would call myself out, before someone else did :)

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