Cads, Dads, Doms

Patri Friedman ponders which occupations women prefer in men here, and in the comments Hugh Ristik cites a thoughtful ’07 post at Gene Expression:

The Common Side-blotched Lizard shows exactly these three types. The “sneaker” Yellow males, from afar, look just like females, allowing them to fly under the radar and copulate with numerous members of an Orange alpha-male’s harem. The monogamous Blue mate-guarders have only one female to watch, and they cooperate with each other due to green beard effects. …

The proper dichotomy is not “virile vs. wimpy” as has been supposed, but “exciting vs. drab,” with the former having the two distinct sub-groups “macho man vs. pretty boy.” Another way to see that this is the right dichotomy is to look around the world: wherever girls really dig macho men, they also dig the peacocky musician type too, finding safe guys a bit boring. And conversely, where devoted dads do the best, it’s more difficult for macho men or in-town-for-a-day rockstars to make out like bandits. …

Whatever it is about high-pathogen-load areas that selects for greater polygynous behavior … will result in an increase in both gorilla-like and peacock-like males, since they’re two viable ways to pursue a polygynous mating strategy.

This fits with there being two kinds of status: dominance and prestige. Macho men, such as CEOs and athletes, have dominance, while musicians and artists have prestige. But women seek both short and long term mates.  Since both kinds of status suggest good genes, both attract women seeking short term mates. This happens more when women are younger and richer, and when there is more disease.  Foragers pretend they don’t respect dominance as much as they do, so prestigious men get more overt attention, while dominant men get more covert attention.

Women seeking long term mates also consider a man’s ability to supply resources, and may settle for poorer genes to get more resources. Dominant men tend to have more resources than prestigious men, so such men are more likely to fill both roles, being long term mates for some women and short term mates for others. Men who can offer only prestige must accept worse long term mates, while men who can offer only resources must accept few short term mates.  Those low in prestige, resources, or dominance must accept no mates.   A man who had prestige, dominance, and resources would get the best short and long term mates – what men are these?

Stories are biased toward dramatic events, and so are biased toward events with risky men; it is harder to tell a good story about the attraction of a resource-rich man. So stories naturally encourage short term mating. Shouldn’t this make long-term mates wary of strong mate attraction to dramatic stories?

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