This post is also available in: German
Think we might be heading into a double dip recession? Or, worse, a decades-long economic retraction with hyperinflation and a general growing business and government incompetence thanks to a dumbing down of the population? Rejoice, betas! This is your moment in the sun. Chicks who were reminded of their mortality were more attracted to soft, less masculine herb faces, and this preference was most pronounced for women at the peak of their fertility cycle. (Regrettably, their desire to have kids also went up, so make sure you strap on that condom if you’re going to bang a chick recently diagnosed with cancer.) PS: Mortality salience refers to reminders of one’s death.
Previous research has shown that individuals who are reminded of their death exhibited a greater desire for offspring than those who were not reminded of their death. The present research investigated whether being reminded of mortality affects mate selection behaviors, such as facial preference judgments. Prior research has shown that women prefer more masculine faces when they are at the high versus low fertility phase of their menstrual cycles. We report an experiment in which women were tested either at their high or fertility phase. They were randomly assigned to either a mortality salience (MS) or control condition and then asked to judge faces ranging from extreme masculine to extreme feminine. The results showed that women’s choice of the attractive male face was determined by an interaction between fertility phase and condition. In control conditions, high fertility phase women preferred a significantly more masculine face than women who were in a lower fertility phase of their menstrual cycles. In MS conditions, high fertility phase women preferred a significantly less masculine (i.e., more average) face than women who were in a low fertility phase. The results indicate that biological processes, such as fertility phase, involved in mate selection are sensitive to current environmental factors, such as death reminders. This sensitivity may serve as an adaptive compromise when choosing a mate in potentially adverse environmental conditions.
In short, women who thought about their own death suddenly found feminized beta providers a lot more attractive than masculine alpha cads. This preference was largest for ovulating women, who normally show the exact opposite preference when times are good and death is a faraway abstraction.
If you are a beta male, then you will hope and pray for another Great Depression, war, or alien invasion. It seems counterintuitive, (after all, wouldn’t a highly masculine man be a better choice for protection during tough times?), but it makes some sense if you remember that alpha cads also bring with them the threat of abandonment, which would be disastrous for women trying to survive in a bad environment. Since the free-for-all, stoically unjealous polyamorists can’t grasp why male abandonment is a bad thing, the Chateau will helpfully remind them –
In tough times, betas will be especially loathe to assume the child-raising duties of another man’s bastard spawn.
Some more study results:
The present results provide new evidence about how environmental factors, such as the presence of death reminders, can influence human reproductive behaviors, such as mate selection. […]
First, it has been shown that people in a MS condition will adhere more strongly to socially acceptable norms and will react negatively towards those persons who do not uphold these norms (Greenberg et al., 1990; Greenberg et al., 1994; Rosenblatt et al., 1989).
Troubled times breed collectivism. Are the notoriously monogamous, norm-following and shame-avoiding Northeast Asians the product of millennia of living off marginal land constantly raided by tribes to the north?
In the present research, the face selected by ovulating women in the [Mortality Salience] condition could be considered a more average face than faces chosen by high fertile phase women in the control condition and low fertile phase women in the MS condition.
Average = herb. Exceptional = lantern jaw and heavy brow ridge. Interestingly, non-ovulating women showed a slightly lower preference for herb faces when they were confronted with their mortality. So alpha cads are not out of the running completely when the shit hits the fan. But you gotta notice just how upside-down bizarro world the mating market looks when the good times come to an end. This might explain the rise of the beta male during the first half of the 20th century, when world wars wracked societies.
High fertile phase women in the MS condition may have viewed the masculine face negatively because of the association of masculine faces with socially negative characteristics and would view feminized faces more positively because feminized faces are shown to be associated with more pro-social attributes such as being helpful, cooperative, trustworthy, and a good father (Boothroyd, et al., 2007; Jones et al., 2008; Johnston, et al., 2001).
Sure, the herb may be a bad lay, but when the cupboard is bare he’ll be out there scrounging up food for his lady. Personally, Chateau hosts prefer being known for their lay expertise. It’s more fun.
Second, it has been shown that following [Mortality Salience], women and men may find the physical aspects of sex and sexual attraction unappealing, as the physicality of sex may be a reminder of one’s eventual mortality (Goldenberg et al. 1999; Landau et al. 2006). In the present research, it may have been the case that high fertile phase women experienced the highly masculine male faces as associated with physical sexuality and, therefore, death.
Sex is the little death (if you’re doing it right).
Following MS, women who are at a high risk of pregnancy may view mates with highly masculine faces as involving more risk than mates with more feminized faces.
Reminders of death and hardship usher an alternative universe where highly fertile ovulating women prefer pasty-faced betaboys. In good times, just the opposite preference is observed. Ergo, late empire prosperity and decadence may go a long way toward explaining the rise in rates of single mom-hood — in good times, these womb-lubed women choose unreliable alpha cads as fathers, subconsciously figuring that if the alphas bolt it won’t much matter since resources (in the form of ample food supplies and government largesse) are plentiful. Chateau Heartiste wrote about this dysgenic trend nearly three years ago.
In future research, it is necessary to investigate the extent to which highly masculine faces increase death-related thoughts in high fertile phase and low fertile phase women.
Our results suggest that mortality salience may result in an over-ride of the high fertility phase-induced preference for masculine faces and a strengthening of the predisposition for less masculine and likely higher investing mates.
The study results show that it makes sense for a betaface to remind girls of their impending demise. Call it Death Game. You casually mention a lady friend who died prematurely from some rare disease or freak accident, and then lament how little time we all have on this earth to pursue our goals and realize our dreams. Say “Life is so precious, and death is always around the corner, so grab what’s in front of you and live like it could all end tomorrow!” while touching the spine of her back with the chill fingertips of your best Grim Reaper impersonation. Throw in a bit of NLP for good measure: “My afterlife is probably… beLOW me. Sex is a great way to fight death… with me, I love each day I’m alive.”
Our sample was composed primarily of White, middle-class college women who have been shown to express a preference for mates who will invest heavily in her and her children.
D’oh! Talk about saying a lot in so little. How do black and asian women respond to mortality reminders? Are their natural tendencies strengthened, or do they enter a bizarro world just like white women?