Women’s fertility across the cycle increases the short-term attractiveness of creative intelligence

Abstract

Male provisioning ability may have evolved as a “good dad” indicator through sexual selection, whereas male creativity may have evolved partly as a “good genes” indicator. If so, women near peak fertility (midcycle) should prefer creativity over wealth, especially in short-term mating. Forty-one normally cycling women read vignettes describing creative but poor men vs. uncreative but rich men. Women’s estimated fertility predicted their short-term (but not long-term) preference for creativity over wealth, in both their desirability ratings of individual men (r=.40, p<.01) and their forced-choice decisions between men (r=.46, p<.01). These preliminary results are consistent with the view that creativity evolved at least partly as a good genes indicator through mate choice.

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Correspondence to Martie G. Haselton.

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Martie Haselton thanks Robert Liu and Tammy Chow for help in collecting the data, and Michael Mitchell for suggestions for statistical analysis. Geoffrey Miller thanks Helena Cronin, Laura Dane, Steve Gangestad, Randy Thornhill, and Ron Yeo for useful comments on this line of work. Both authors thank John Tooby for initially suggesting the test of trade-offs between inherited wealth and intelligence, and Rosalind Arden, David Buss, Belinda Campos, Dave Frederick, Steve Gangestad, Elizabeth Pillsworth, Josh Poore, Andrew Shaner, Julie Smurda, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

Martie Haselton is an assistant professor of communication studies at UCLA, with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000. Her research concerns female sexuality, ovulatory cycle shifts in women’s mate preferences, adaptive biases in social judgment, strategic conflict between the sexes, and adaptationist theory.

Geoffrey Miller is an assistant professor of evolutionary psychology at University of New Mexico, and author of The Mating Mind. After earning a Ph.D. from Stanford in 1993, he worked in Britain and Germany until 2001. His research concerns fitness indicator theory, intelligence, behavior genetics, psychopathology, consumer behavior, aesthetics, and morality.

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Haselton, M.G., Miller, G.F. Women’s fertility across the cycle increases the short-term attractiveness of creative intelligence. Hum Nat 17, 50–73 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-006-1020-0

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Key words

  • Art
  • Business
  • Creativity, Female mate choice
  • Fertility
  • Good genes
  • Intelligence
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Mental fitness indicators
  • Ovulation
  • Psychological attractiveness
  • Wealth