Sex life hack: Stand out from the crowd

A new study on attraction may help explain why fashions change. ©Serg Zastavkin/shutterstock.com
A new study on attraction may help explain why fashions change.
Credit: Serg Zastavkin/shutterstock.com

Here’s the ultimate sex life hack: Looking the odd one out may seem like a recipe for mating disaster, but it could make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

So said a study Wednesday which may also explain why fashions change.

Researchers in Australia used beards to test a theory that some features become more desirable when fewer people have them.

They showed women sets of pictures of men: clean-shaven, with stubble, or bearded, and had them rate the men’s attractiveness.

Men with beards scored better when they were surrounded by clean-shaved faces, and vice versa, the study found.

“In some cases, rarity in ornamentation can be advantageous,” said the paper, which may explain a puzzle of evolutionary science.

Under the theory of sexual selection, female animals choose mates with desirable features, which are often “advertised” through adornments such as colorful tail feathers in peacocks.

Logically, these sought-after features should eventually dominate the gene pool and less desirable variations weeded out — but this is not the case.

Instead, genetic variations are perpetuated across generations specifically because they give a survival edge with combinations of “good genes,” compared to the mainstream.

Scientists have long been baffled by the apparent contradiction, but now believe rarity of features, scientifically termed “negative frequency-dependent selection,” may explain some of it.

In guppies, fish which have the most unusual color patterns have the most mating success — and they also happen to live the longest.

But how does it apply to humans?

Past research has suggested that hair color variation spread through Europe on the back of such “novelty” selection, and that men’s preference for brown hair increases when it is rare.

Other work has pointed to men’s preferences for unfamiliar female faces that, to them, look exotic.

The new research builds on this, giving a clearer idea of the value in being the odd one out.

It also highlights the advantages of being able to manipulate one’s look.

“If men tailored their grooming in order to be distinctive … that could confer an advantage to rare-beard styles that would decay as a style grew more popular,” said the study.

This could explain why fashions keep changing.

Novelty styles boost the chance of reproductive success because they stand out. Conformists then mimic these “influential early adopters”, which eventually leads to new rebels emerging in a cycle of change.

The paper, led by Barnaby Dixson of the University of New South Wales, was published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.