From the Neck Up

The author Steven Pinker had a great phrase for people who didn’t believe in Evolutionary Psychology – they think evolution stopped below the neck. After living on the fringes for a long time, EP is now so mainstream that it is accepted of a matter of course in non-academic publications, such as The Atlantic. In this article, the penchant for swooning over musical stars, be it Elvis, The Beatles, or Justin Bieber is placed on a firm rational basis.


The trope of the sexy male guitar player is common in TV and movies. But why?

Darwin himself recognized the importance of sexual selection. For males evaluating females, this is a relatively easy task. But how are females to quickly and accurately judge the mate-potential of nearby males? Traits such as coordination, creativity, dedication, sensitivity, and sociability are all important but hard to assess without investing in lengthy investigation. Cue the guitar:

“It may seem silly that something as insignificant as skill or taste in music could have such a strong effect on relationships, but it makes for a simple way to both identify yourself and to quickly size up someone else’s compatibility. To become a great musician takes time, resources, tenacity, focus, and a host of other traits. Thus, a skilled musician has already taken a shortcut past having to prove all of the aforementioned qualities individually.” [Full Article]

Cast in a game-theory perspective, females are looking for a costly signal to make snap judgement about potential beaus.



Author: lnemzer

Associate Professor Nova Southeastern University

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