Thursday, May 21, 2009

In comments

In comments to one of the posts below, Mark posits a few good hypotheses for the relationship he and some friends noticed between family income and "hotness" among the girls at his high school.

He posits 3 hypotheses:

(1) Girls from wealthier have more resources to enhance their appearance
(2) Man with high incomes may be able to attract more attractive wives (thus improving child genetics ... and I would add the chances that daughters have mothers who can train them to be good at (1))
(3) Men with high incomes are more likely to be attractive themselves (further improving child genetics.

There is an additional complementary explanation to this list that I neglected to pull from the archive yesterday -- oddly, more attractive people are more likely to have daughters:

4) Stephen Dubner links to some wild evolutionary biology research using the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health which finds that individuals rated more attractive by their interviewers are 36% more likely to have girl for their first child.

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.

I am a little confused about the "evolutionary" argument saying that attractive females are more likely to have daughters because they have traits more advantageous to daughters.

This argument does not make sense to me, simply because it is the male's sperm that determines the sex of the child, not the female. Female's eggs always have the X sex chromosome, but since sperms can have X or Y, they influence the sex of the offspring. Whichever sperm gets there first wins.

Although it may be true that 'attractive' females are more likely to have daughters, I don't really think that their attractiveness is what is influencing that on a genetic level.

I think these scientists are reading a little bit too much into this. (Am I missing something here?)
Hmm. I agree with the post above, as I don't know if I believe that an individual's traits have that much of an influence on the the gender of a child. On a related note, "sperm spinning" , can. Here is an explanation of this new technology:

It would be pretty interesting to do some research on the couples that are using "sperm spinning" to determine the gender of their child, and seeing if the same correlations held true with these couples.
I think what is being overlooked here is not that couples that have better traits for one sex over the other make them have that sex. It is just that the research shows that they are more likely to have that sex. The human brain is amazingly complex and there are many subtleties that we have not been able to unlock. This random phenomenon could be just some form of placebo effect (Meaning we just think that they actually effect the sex, when in actuality it does nothing).
This is just too weird for me. I would like to know how is beauty being determined here. People perceive beauty in many different ways and on top of that I don't believe that individual traits have that much of an effect on the sex. Plus, I agree with the first post. Genetically it doesn't make sense, when male sperm is the determinant of the sex. So what is this article saying women will get prettier than men and thus more attractive women will have to hook up with less attractive stronger, larger men?
The first 3 hypothesis might be right, however, for the son and daughter part is odd for me. I do not think attractive females are more likely to have daughters because they have traits more advantageous to daughters. I think this experience needs more investigation. Because having a female or male is 50/50 chance and I read an article that mentions if a person always consume alcohol or under medication, that person is likely to have girl.
The first 3 hypothesis might be right, however, for the son and daughter part is odd for me. I do not think attractive females are more likely to have daughters because they have traits more advantageous to daughters. I think this experience needs more investigation. Because having a female or male is 50/50 chance and I read an article that mentions if a person always consume alcohol or under medication, that person is likely to have girl.
I really don't see how beauty has anything to do with having a daughter or son, it could have just been that the number they selected just happened to be skewed to having more daughters, I assume that the distribution would even out a lot more if there was a larger number of people in the experiment. I believe that the first 3 assumptions could be correct to an extent, but I don't it correlates to having a boy or girl.
The three hypotheses seem quite obvious to me. Of course, if you a lot of money, you will have more resources to enhance your appearance. You would be able to afford plastic surgery, creams/moisturizers, make-up, clothing, jewelry, etc. I guess the second one would be true, although I don't completely agree with it. This particular hypothesis makes women sound like "gold-diggers".
What about family's that have both? My sister and brother-in-law had 3 boys to start, and then had a girl. Did they all of a sudden become more attractive?
The biggest problem I have with these three hypotheses is that just because someones parents might be "attractive" it does not mean that their kids will be "attractive" as well, "unattractive" parents can also have beautiful children, plus what defines good genetics, are we talking about purely looks or also skills and other useful characteristics?
I dont know what to think of the son/daughter study but I tend to view science as a constantly changing source so I'll believe it for now but i wouldn't bet on it.
I went to both a wealthy suburban high school and an urban low income school so I actually can say that for the most part the hypotheses can be true if you wanted them to be. It seems we tend to focus on the really hot families and forget to realize that many more from high income families are average looking. On average though, the higher the income, the lower the body fat.
Once again a subjective physical beauty study. Bryce I'm starting to catch on to something. Nonetheless the fundamental flaw of the arguement is the endogenous nature of beauty. It is personal preference. Maybe the study should instead consider what attributes are considered beautiful and which of these are passed on to the children, both male and female. The 3 hypothesis seem juvenile at best. For every attractive wealthy girl there is an equally attractive poor girl, likewise for guys. Every arguement can be refuted without concrete evidence just as they are farfetched assumptions.
The real winner in this situation is a guy who has those "extreme makeover" skills, i.e. the difference between most "hot" girls and "not" ones is all superficial, hair, make-up, clothes,, a guy that is willing to learn how to cut hair, do make-up, and put in a little capital (in the form of clothing) can get a girl and thus amp up her "hotness"....
I couldn't agree more with Mark's reasoning for the why wealthier people seem to be more attractive. While I believed hypotheses 2 and 3 prior to reading, I had never thought of hypothesis 1. But all of this has gotten me to wonder...even during scientific testing and polling, when exactly does someone become considered "attractive"? Is there are certain percentage the survey indicated for each person? At what percentage of, attractive or not attrative, is someone considered one or the other?
I believe the first three hypothesis are partially right. They are all common sense. But what I got confused is that how could attractive females are more likely to have daughters? A person's gender is 50% regardless. There's no such thing that women who are attractive tends to pregnat with girls. Further, women's eggs does not have the genetic DNA to determine a baby is boy or girl. Only males' sperm can do that.
I think you should watch the show on Bravo called "Millionaire Matchmaker." While the host of this show deals with social compatibility, I think you could host a show and base it off economical compatibility.
well this article is interesting. It would seem to make sense that wealthier girls are more attractive possibly learning from their attractive moms how to look good, so the daughter can find a "smart" husband as well. The finding about how COUPLES who have traits that would be better for a male such as size and strength rather than for a female, are more likely to have a male is a profound idea. while there isn't much proof for this we cannot write it off as we don't fully understand how our bodies function nor what evolutionary mechanisms have been involved with our species allowing our survival.
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