Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Blue-Eyed Men Prefer Blue-Eyed Women

Men with blue eyes prefer women who themselves have blue eyes, according to a new study published in the journal of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. The reason for this may be an (unconscious) desire to keep tabs of the partner’s fidelity, as a blue-eyed couple can only have blue-eyed children. So, if a resulting child has brown eyes (which is a dominant trait), there may be some cause for concern.

The scientists asked 88 students to rate the attractiveness of models based on pictures manipulated so that half of them had blue eyes and the other half had brown eyes. The blue-eyed men in the group showed a preference for blue-eyed women.

But brown-eyed men, who cannot find any clues about paternity from a child’s eye color, had no preferences by eye color. Women showed no preference for brown- or blue-eyed men, irrespective of their own eye color.

A quarter of children born to two brown-eyed parents who have both brown and blue-eye genes among their ancestors will have blue eyes. The rest will be brown.

In a second study, 443 young adults of both sexes were asked about the eye color of their partners — blue-eyed men were also the group with the highest proportion of partners with the same eye color.

However, there seem to be two things here that confuse me:
1. How would ancient peoples (who know nothing of Mendelian genetics) develop this preference?
2. If they did know #1, couldn’t a woman equally cheat with a person who has blue eyes?

Comments

  1. #1 Alexandra
    October 24, 2006

    “How would ancient peoples (who know nothing of Mendelian genetics) develop this preference?”

    If you think average modern people have a good solid grasp of Mendelian genetics then you’re spending way too much time on campus.

  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 24, 2006

    2. If they did know #1, couldn’t a woman equally cheat with a person who has blue eyes?

    Sorry, I don’t accept any propositions before lunch time. It’s flattering of you to ask though.

  3. #3 Shelley Batts
    October 24, 2006

    So you’re saying you prefer a little ‘Afternoon Delight’ then?

  4. #4 luca
    October 24, 2006

    They don’t need to know anything about genetics. People who didn’t have this preference got cheated more than people who did, so they went extinct. Or, they didn’t go extinct, but are less numerous anyway…

  5. #5 JaysonB
    October 24, 2006

    I think the reason for this is completely obvious, and I’m saddened the researchers were so willing to attach a selection reason that quite honestly doesn’t match up.

    What about the fact that dudes prefer women who look like their mom, and a blue eyed guy’s mom has to be blue eyed as well.

    I mean, like, *duh*.

  6. #6 Alon Levy
    October 25, 2006

    In a second study, 443 young adults of both sexes were asked about the eye color of their partners — blue-eyed men were also the group with the highest proportion of partners with the same eye color.

    It looks fishy. Ignoring homosexuality, which is too uncommon to make a dent in these statistics, we get that the number of blue-eyed men with blue-eyed partners is equal to the number of blue-eyed women with blue-eyed partners. Since the allele that codes for blue eyes is sex-blind, it means the proportions have to be equal.

    So what’s going on here?

  7. #7 Kristjan Wager
    October 25, 2006

    While the first 88 people asked showed a bias towards blue-eyed women by the blued-eyed men, this part is just nonsense, unless there is something more to it:

    In a second study, 443 young adults of both sexes were asked about the eye color of their partners — blue-eyed men were also the group with the highest proportion of partners with the same eye color.

    This doesn’t take social biases into consideration. And Alon raises another good point.

    All in all, I would need to see more studies before believing this (and even then, I’m not sure that I buy their reason for the bias).

  8. #8 daniele
    October 26, 2006

    I guess that your objection 2 is the main point: norway is full of blue eyed men and women, so how can one be sure that your child’s eyes are of your shade of blue? A similar argument applies to blue eyed people but from a lower latitude: they can have blue eyes but a lot of black-eyed genes..such a study in south italy would bring to a rage of honour killings

  9. #9 bernarda
    October 26, 2006

    Some men have other criteria for women.

    “In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

    “The uncovered meat is the problem.”

    The sheik then said: “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”

    He said women were “weapons” used by “Satan” to control men.

    “It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa).” ”

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20646437-601,00.html

  10. #10 JaysonB
    October 26, 2006

    Knowing women are the tools of satan just makes them way hotter.

  11. #11 Greg
    October 29, 2006

    Humans were successfully breeding (and keeping detailed records!) animals and plants long before there were monasteries, let alone monks named Mendel.

    It is possible that Europeans wishing to avoid the malign notice of Father Church, did not make a lot of fuss. However, they did obviously continue to keep notes and to select breeding stock according to principles, which were successful for all they lacked ‘Nature’s imprimatur.

  12. #12 bernarda
    October 31, 2006

    Some men prefer apparently French Maids.

    http://www.frenchmaidtv.com/pages/episodes.htm

    Practical demonstrations of Internet and other things.

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