viernes, 18 de noviembre de 2011

Why women like bags and shoes but only eurasian girls like horses? An evolutionary hypothesis

Why  girls, at least the European girls, like horses?. Horses were domesticated in central Asia 4000 years ago.  My hypothesis is that horse domestication was such a great improvement in the well being of these ancient tribes that the girls that were attracted to horses and thus to live with men who used domesticated horses had  far more offspring, so whatever genetic inclination to perceive horses as beautiful were selected. This selection may have occurred in the few thousand years from horse domestication up to now because the selection was strong enough. This fast selection requires that the locus of this horse inclination must be codified in one or two alleles, This case is similar to the lactose tolerance. Although the former is a psychological tendency rather than a physiological one, like the latter, this does not make any significant difference, in the light of Evolutionary psychology, that postulates that behavioral tendencies have also a genetic basis. (although EP is interested in universal  (species-specific) tendencies rather that differential ones like this).

Then, why men do not enjoy horses so much? Men enjoy horses in a different way. My hypothesys is that boys enjoyed horses more as if they were tools. The enjoyment that a young boy had 2000 years ago with a domesticated horse was the same that a modern boy could have with the ability to handle a car, a videogame or a programming language.  Tools are everywhere and playing with tools is an instinct with no defined target (variation of tools in ancient times may have forced  such instinct generality) . In the other side, Girls have no such inclination for tools, so natural  selection operated with other inclinations: Aestethics. Aesthetics is salient in women.

The aesthetic selection  is perhaps responsible also for the universal aesthetic pleasure in woman for bags and shoes. Bags and shoes have an evident usefulness for the gathering activities that women have carried out for millions of years. Humankind lived from the beginning in groups of  meat hunting men and vegetable gathering women. Usefulness of bags for gathering is evident. And  shoes were necessary because grass may hide dangerous small animals. So while all women like bags and shoes,  only Indo-european girls suffered the selection for horse aestetic enjoyment. So the explanation predict that neither black nor native american neither Austronesians girls like horses in an statistically significant way. Far Oriental and african arabic girls must be half way, while all of them enjoy bags and shoes.

Enjoyment of horses may peak at pubescence and decay after because this age was the right for stable couple formation in the past.

Are you a pretty native non eurasian girl?  Did you liked horses at childhood?.

Some considerations  as consequence of a discussion in the facebook site of the Online Evolutionary Psychology Magazine

0 - Remark about the innate horse taste hipotesis in women

1- the adaptive advantage in woman preference for horses

2- Possible experiment design to refute the hypothesis

3- summary of hypotesis involved

4 - some evolutionary reasoning about why the sexual specialization for tool enjoyinh/playing/investment in males versus aesthetic enjoyment in females.

5 - About the evolutionary reason behind fashion psychology in women

0 - Remark about the innate horse taste hipotesis in women:

The adaptive adavantage in woman preference for horses when some men had domesticated horses and others do not is evident for me. Moreover, this does not imply the evolution of a new "like horses instinct" but the modulation of an already aestetic instinc in woman that make them being attracted to bags, shoes and maybe equally dressed (uniformed) men and other expression of personal and/or collective masculine power that are invariants across (at least) primitive cultures (see justification below). This "modulation for horse taste in women must involve a single gene mutation, just like the lactosa tolerance. Cattle domestication for milk production is as new as horse domestication (early neolithic), and still lactosa tolerance has evolved two or three times independently in eurasia.

1- the adaptive advantage in woman innate preference for horses

Not only horse men would have choose woman who like horses, but the women will choose these men, simply making themselves visible to these men. Also, mothers will choose these men as couples for their dauthters and so on. The advantages of having domesticated horses must have been very high.

2- Possible experiment design to refute the conjecture

The best way to test the differences of innate taste for horses between eurasian/non eurasian girls can be tested asking non eurasian girls educated in an eurasian culture for their taste for horses, and the oposite, asking eurasian girls living in cultures with no horses. That way the cultural bias can be discarded.

3- summary of hypotesis involved

 The hypothesis implies that there is an evolutionary explanation for the women's taste of bags, shoes and perhaps other things. And also that horses were added to the list by a single mutation a few thousand years ago. It implies that men like horses as they would like any tool, for the pleasure of achieving things with them. All of them are very strong hypothesis. I find some support for the aesthetic versus tool use in women/men from informal gathering of opinions about horses in both sexes. (And also the fact that men enjoy tools, while woman enjoy aesthetics) . Evolutionary justification below:

4 - some evolutionary reasoning about why the sexual specialization for tool enjoyinh/playing/investment in males versus aesthetic enjoyment in females.

This is perhaps the deeper hipothesis and the basis for all the rest. The fact that it explain some facts about the different psichology of men and women, this need a justification. In my opinion, EP lacks theoretical research about social human adaptations that has payments in the long term.  Like chimpanzees,  along the evolutionary history boys stayed in their society while girls moved, as consequence of pacific or violent encounters with other human groups.  As a consequence, selection in men for behaviours that inprove his own group at an individual cost may be stronger. Because men stay in their society, cultural transmission is in the hands and shoulders of them. Therefore, long term, even costy activities with multigeneration-wide payment could be selected. tool research, such are animal domestication (that may be dangerous and not necessary sucessful) may imply a big payment because the potential benefit may be huge across many descendants that may inherit the cultural advantage.

While men could have transmited a capital of adquired knowledge to their descendants such are knowledge, tools and political institutions , women could not. They must have been adapted to different groups, so if they needed the way to select invariants across groups that helped them to survive in their activities such is gathering, rearing children and before that, to choose (or be receptive to) the most resourceful men. I conjecture that this is the precise role of the aestetic instinct or set of instincts. This instinct by its own function must be stable enough to fix invatiants, like the universal utility od bags and shoes for gathering, but flexible enough to make use of local chages, being them  climatic specificities or innovations such is horse domestication.

5 - About the evolutionary reason behind fashion psychology in women

 This aestethic instinct includes also rapid adaptations however: fashion in women is an obvious adaptation to moving from group to group in ancestral times. This habit has a peack at adolescence, the age where primitive women switched groups.

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