“Men who don’t find curvy women attractive ‘could father children with autism'”

I just discovered this tidbit from the What’s Sorts of People blog.  (Let me cancel any suggestion that they endorse it!)  I don’t have time to comment, sadly, and anyway you might want to go over there to express your surprise.  The news is to be found in the Daily Mail who tell us

The new research from the University of Bath suggests that fathers of autistic children do not share the preference of men across the world for the curvier woman.

Studies show that the waist-to-hip ratio of 70 per cent is what the majority of men find most attractive because it correlates strongly with good health and fertility.

Now, just in case you are wondering why this isn’t cast in terms of the mothers’ figures, the fathers don’t seem to choose some one type.  Also, you need to know that the research is not finished.

Dr Brosnan said they are now contacting mothers of autistic children to determine whether body shape is a factor in autism.

‘We’d like to include mothers to examine what body shapes both parents of children with autism perceive to be attractive.

‘The next phase will then be to assess the actual dimensions of parents of children with autism.

I remain perplexed over the shift from “choose as the most attractive pictured women” to “choose as the most attractive women  (in something like real life).”   And the idea that identifying and assessing pictures is somehow culturally independent.  And then there’s the “because.” 

What do you think?  Need I ask that?

5 thoughts on ““Men who don’t find curvy women attractive ‘could father children with autism'”

  1. These kinds of studies of alleged universal standards of beauty in relation to sexual attractiveness and mate selection are ubiquitous, but they are always full of problems. One problem is that they are so focused on vision to the exclusion of almost all else (red lips, waist-to-hip ratio, shiny hair, pert breasts, etc.). There are many other human sensory abilities and the idea of a science of mate selection based on alleged perception of evolutionary fitness and reproductive success would appear to require that someone ought to take into account these OTHER senses too. The most prominent one that comes to mind is scent. Humans’ sense of smell is far better and more complex than commonly credited and some research on sexual attractiveness suggests that smell is FAR more important than vision in mate selection. Recent research suggests that scents of, say, male sweat are deemed attractive by ovulating (presumably heterosexual?) females in direct relation to their genetic difference, i.e., this is something that humans can smell (though without realizing it). Think too of how many people can seem attractive to someone due to voice, tone, cadence, timbre, etc. We really are more than just visual creatures (even men are!).

  2. My first reaction was to hope the Daily Mail had got something wrong. But their report accords well with this: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2009/1/6/autism-whr.html. It’s deeply weird. I’m not in any position to evaluate the details of the research, but two things struck me: (1) Many people don’t procreate with those they find ideally attractive physically (partly because other things matter too, partly because only so many of us get to have sex with Angelina Jolie, say). (2) It’s fascinating to see what could have been a mother-blaming study being spun as a father-blaming study (assuming that the Daily Mail thinks having an autistic child is a bad thing, which I tend to think it does, given their photo choice).

  3. strange thing is: bath is a pretty good university and the journal has an impact factor of 3.12.

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