Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The false cues of intelligence are the ones found attractive

Sidari, Morgan (2016). A beautiful mind: Testing the sexual selection theory of human intelligence. Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

Abstract: The evolutionary forces that gave rise to humans’ extreme intelligence are not well understood. One prominent theory is that our surplus intelligence evolved as a fitness indicator to advertise genetic quality to prospective romantic partners. If our intelligence evolved over multitudes of generations’ romantic and sexual choices, this legacy should be reflected in our preferences today. In this thesis, I test several key predictions from the sexual selection theory of human intelligence. Participants (100 males, 99 females) took part in a speed-dating experiment whereby their verbal and non-verbal intelligence was measured and they provided ratings for each other on intelligence, humour, and attractiveness. I made the following predictions: first, measured intelligence will be detectable through perceptions of intelligence and perceptions of humour (a proposed display of intelligence); second, more intelligent people will be found more attractive by members of the opposite sex. Results showed that more intelligent people were perceived as more intelligent; however, they were not perceived as more humorous. Additionally, those who were perceived to be more intelligent or more humorous were found more attractive; however, those who were actually more intelligent were not. The finding that more intelligent people were not perceived as more humorous is not consistent with humour acting as a display of intelligence. Additionally, ***the findings that perceived intelligence is attractive and measured intelligence is not suggest that it may be the false cues of intelligence that are found attractive***. These results are not consistent with intelligence acting as a fitness indicator; thereby raising important issues with a theory that has been prominent in evolutionary psychology for sixteen years and yet remained relatively untested. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

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