Re: homo species

19 Jul 1995 21:04:03 GMT

J. Moore ( sez:
`Rl> Pete Vincent wonders about sexual attractiveness and cues, and
`Rl> speculates about the possibility that at the level of genetics, H.s.s.
`Rl> and H.s. n could exchange genes but may simply have not "wanted" to, for
`Rl> a combination of hard-wired and culturally determined reasons. There has
`Rl> been some research during the past year or two that impinges on the
`Rl> question on "attractiveness", mostly reported in NATURE, as I recall.
`Rl> It's simply too complex to unravel in terms of biology vs. culture, and
`Rl> is clearly some inextricable mixture of the two.

`Virtually all, but not quite all, the stuff I've seen done on
`universality of preferences or emotions has had some fairly
`simplistic assumptions attached.


`Notice that things to watch out for in these types of tests are
`the ideas that people don't watch TV, read magazines, etc., and so
`don't form their preferences in the context of a larger world.
`Pretty much everybody does, but some (I wouldn't say all) of these
`studies contain mucho "RDTs": my all-time favorite (so far) was a
`ref used to support the statment of a universal male desire for an
`exaggerated "hourglass figure"; when I looked up the study, it was
`of several classes of USA male pysch undergrads, who apparently stood
`in for every male on the planet. I mean, I wouldn't say the
`statement couldn't be true, but that was *not* support for it.

It occurs to me that what might be instructive to do (maybe this
has already been done to death - I know very little of the state
of research in psychology) would be to do studies on the cues
which elicit the strongest responses in very young children.
This might not necessarily reveal a hardwired base set, but at
least might show how the response evolves under the influence
of cultural conditioning, as the subjects, if not free of conditioning,
at least would be relatively unsophisticated, compared to older
subjects. This information might give some indication of the
degree of variance, and perhaps hint at the extent of the
hardwired set.

One of the things that really fascinates me, and
this is admittedly extreme speculation, is the possibility
that there exists a sufficiently articulated set of hardwired
cues to assemble a sort of encoded body image of the ideal mate,
one which would give us a glimpse back across time to the actual
generalized appearance of our ancestors. Not very detailed, but at
least a sort of outline.

My first day using the VMS port of tin. Nifty.
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