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Guitar Increases Male Facebook Attractiveness: Preliminary Support for the Sexual Selection Theory of Music



Music is a universal phenomenon that has genetic and brain-localized features. As such, it warrants adaptive evolutionary explanations. While some scholars believe that music arose as a by-product of other adaptations, others argue that music is likely to have served some adaptive function, for example in coalition signaling or mother-child bonding. The sexual selection theory of music suggests that music serves as a signal in mate selection. While this claim is prevalent, it lacks empirical evidence. A facebook experiment revealed that women replied more positively to friendship requests from a man shown in a photo holding a guitar. These results offer initial sup-port for the sexual selection theory of music.
doi: 10.5178/lebs.2012.18
Received 1 April 2012.
Accepted 1 April 2012.
Published online 22 May 2012.
© 2011 by Human Behavior and Evolutionary Societ y of Japan
Vol. 3 No.1 (2012) 4-6.
Guitar Increases
Male Facebook
Preliminary Support for
the Sexual Selection
Theory of Music
Sigal Tifferet*, Or Gaziel, Yoav Baram
Ruppin Academic Center, Emek Hefer, Israel
*Author for correspondence (
Music is a universal phenomenon that has genetic
and brain-localized features. A s such, it war ra nts
adap tiv e evo lution ary explanation s. While some
scholars believe that music arose as a by-product of
other adaptations, others argue that music is likely
to have ser ved some adaptive function, for example
in coalition signaling or mother-child bonding. The
sexual selection theory of music suggests that music
serves as a signal in mate selection. While this claim
is prevalent, it lacks empirical evidence. A facebook
experiment revealed that women replied more posi-
tively to friendship requests from a man shown in a
photo holding a guitar. These results of fer initial sup-
port for the sexual selection theory of music.
music, sexual selection, facebook, attractiveness
From the dawn of mankind, music has accompanied
humans. The earliest instrument that was found
is an ancient f lute dating back 40,000 years ago
(Adler, 2009). Not on ly d id musi c arise early
in mankind’s prehistor y, it arises early in the
development of infants. Musical predispositions
can be found in the rst months of an infant’s life
(Trehub, 2001), suggesting their innate nature. In
fact, some features in musicality have distinct brain
localizations (reviewed by Peretz, 2006) and even
a genetic basis (Stewar t & Walsh, 20 02). Music
is also a cultural universal (Nettl, 2005), highly
prevalent in different cultures and within cultures.
Behavioral phenomena like music that (1) appeared
early in prehistor y, (2) are apparent in infants,
(3) present brain localization, (4) have a genetic
basis and (5) show cross-cultural patterns, warrant
evolutionary explanations (Miller, 2000; Schmitt &
Pilcher, 2004).
There is a debate regarding the evolutionary
adaptive function of music. Pinker (1997) argues
that music does not have an adaptive function,
and it is only a byproduct of the natural selection
of language capacities. Some suggest that music
serves as a coalition signaling system (Hagen &
Bryant, 2003; Merker, 2000), while others suggest
that it is lin ked to mother-child bonding ( Falk,
2004; Trehub, 2003). Another well-known theory
is Miller’s (2000) sexual selection theory of music,
attestin g that human musicality was sele cted
through sexual selection.
The idea that music may serve as a sexual
signal in mate choice dates back to Darwin (1871)
who suggested that:
All the s e fac t s with resp e c t to music and
impassioned speech become intelligible to a certain
extent, if we may assume that musical tones and
rhythm were used by our half−human ancestors,
during the season of courtship, when animals of all
kinds are excited not only by love, but by the strong
passions of jealousy, rivalry, and triumph. (Darwin,
1871, p. 880)
Miller (2000) argues that music is a biological
adaptation used by males to signal quality. Musical
abilit y may ma ke a n ind ividual attractive by
sign aling that the individual has (1) a genetic
advantage, such as f ine motor skills or a high
capacity to learn, or (2) the necessary resources
needed to master an instrument (Miller, 2000).
Musical ability may also signal higher prenata l
testosterone, as suggested in a study comparing
ma le music i a ns wit h the genera l popu lat ion
(Sluming & Manning, 2000). While Miller’s (2000)
clai m that music is used i n sex ual selection is
prevalent and widely reviewed, it has very little
empirical evidence in humans (Fitch, 2006).
In order to test Miller’s (2000) sexual selection
theory of music, we conducted an online experiment
using facebook as a mating setting. We hypothesized
that a facebook profile photo of a man holding a
guitar would receive more positive responses from
young single women in comparison to a facebook
prole of the same man without a guitar.
100 females listed as members of student facebook
groups in Israel (Tel-Aviv University and Ben
Gurion University) who were identi fied in their
facebook status as single. The mean age as reported
on the facebook proles was 24.4 (SD = 1.7).
In an experiment, two identical facebook profiles
Tifferet et al. LEBS Vol. 3 No.1 (2012) 4-6.
Guitar increases attractiveness
were created. One was accompanied by a photo
of a smi l i ng y oung ma n hold i ng a guitar; the
second showed the same man without the guitar
(see F i g u re 1 ). A f r iends hip request was sent
from each profile to 50 different women with the
accompanying text: Hey, what’s up? I like your
photo.” Responses were categorized into positive
(“I like yours too”) or negative (“I have a boyfriend”
or no response). Twenty friendship requests were
sent every day for ve consecutive days (so that the
facebook account will not be shut off). If a response
was not received after a week, it was considered
as a negative response. At the end of the study
participants who responded positively received a
letter of explanation.
While only ve of the fty women (10%) responded
positively to the friendship request that was sent
by the prole without a guitar, 14 of the 50 women
(28%) responded positively to the friendship request
that was sent by the prole with a guitar (p = .03,
Fisher’s exact test).
The objective of this research was to check whether
women find men holding a guitar more attractive
than men wi t hout one . Alt h o u g h the sexual
selection theory of music is well-known, there is
very little empirical evidence for it in humans.
Usi ng a sample of Israeli female students who
identi fied themselves as single in their facebook
prole, we found that positive responses were more
prevalent to friendship requests of a man holding a
guitar. This nding is especially compelling since it
was conducted outside of a laboratory in a real-life
(albeit online) situation; therefore the participants
were not aware at rst of participating in a study.
These results support the hypothesis that men who
play a musical instrument are perceived as more
attractive, and provide initial support for the sexual
selection theory of music. It should be noted that
proposing that music has a role in sexual selection
does not mean that it does not have add itional
functions. Once selected for one function, musical
displays may have come to play multiple adaptive
Several questions are raised by this analysis.
First, we tested only women’s reactions to apparent
musical ability in men. While some signals are
considered attractive by both males and females
(e.g., facial symmetry; Rhodes, 2006), others show
sex differentiation (e.g., status; Buss, 1989). It would
be interesting to see whether musical displays are
simila rly attractive i n both males a nd fema les,
or whether they are especially valued in men. In
most avian species, only males sing (Brenowitz,
Margoliash, & Nordeen, 1997). However, in some
species, females do attract males through singing
as well (Ga ramszegi, Pavlova, Eens, & Moller,
2007). With some exceptions (Fitch, 2006), singing
is more prevalent in males in other species, but not
so in humans (Hauser & McDermott, 2003). In most
human cultures, musicality is not limited to males
and may have served a function in mother-child
bonding (Cross, 2007).
Second, it would be interesting to test whether
the attractiveness of male musicians is li mited
to short-term relations, or extends to long-term
relations as well. If musical ability mainly signals
that a man has good genes, we would pred ict a
greater effect in the case of short-term relations (Li
& Kenrick, 2006). The effect may also be restricted
to cer tai n men. The specific man in this study
seems to have masculine features (see Figure 1)
which may be ‘softened’ by the guitar. Perhaps the
guitar effect would not be as pronounced with a
more feminine looking man.
In light of the sexual selection theory of
music, we hypot hes ized that a ma n hold ing a
guitar would signal his quality by advertising his
genetic capabilities or his resources (Miller, 2000).
Exhibiting the possibility to enjoy leisure time has
long been recognized as a symbol of higher status
(e.g., Veblen, 1899), therefore holding a guitar can
imply that a man has the necessary resources to
allocate time to music. However, holding a guitar
may have increased attractiveness due to other
reasons. The presence of the guitar may have made
the man in the photo more attractive not because
Figure 1. Facebook prole photos for exper iment al and control group
Tifferet et al. LEBS Vol. 3 No.1 (2012) 4-6.
Guitar increases attractiveness
it represented musical ability, but simply because
it offered more data on an anonymou s p erson .
Future studies, therefore, should investigate the
effect of photos showing other items including other
instruments. Finally, the study results are also
limited at present to Israeli female students. The
results should be replicated, especially in natural
fertility cultures. It is also worth noting that results
obtained in a facebook study may not necessarily
reect off-line interactions.
In sum, we showed that in the facebook realm,
men who hold a guitar in their profile photo are
perceived as more attractive. These novel results
provide in itial support for the sexual selection
theory of music and w ill hop eful ly s t i mulate
additional tests.
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... Only few studies exist which examine the effect of musicmaking on partner choice. Beneficial effects of music on sexual selection were found by Tifferet et al. (2012), who used Facebook profile pictures in their research, depicting a person with or without a guitar making friend requests. Profiles with guitars received almost three times as many positive responses as profiles without one. ...
... Previous findings supporting the reproductive advantage of musical activity via Facebook profiles (Tifferet et al., 2012) or carrying a guitar case (Guéguen et al., 2014) are, thus, not supported by our data. Our study used verbal, written profiles of fictitious persons which differed from the respective control condition in only a few words. ...
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From an evolutionary perspective, musical behavior such as playing an instrument can be considered as part of an individual’s courting behavior. Playing a musical instrument or singing might fulfill a function similar to that of a bird’s colored feathers: attracting attention. Therefore, musicians may be rated as more attractive than non-musicians. In an online survey, 137 volunteers (95 female) with ages ranging from 16 to 39 years rated the attractiveness of fictitious persons of the opposite sex described in short verbal profiles. These profiles differed with respect to whether the described person made music or not. Additionally, the musicians’ profiles varied with regard to whether the described person played music or sang in public or in private only. Results show that musicians’ profiles were not generally rated as more attractive than non-musicians’, but attractiveness did vary according to setting: private musicians were rated as most attractive, followed by non-musicians and public musicians. Furthermore, results indicate that participants who played a musical instrument or sang themselves gave higher ratings to profiles of musicians. But for participants who do not make music themselves, higher attractiveness ratings for musicians playing instruments or sing in private settings were found. These results indicate that the impression of sharing a common interest (making music) and furthermore making music in private instrumental settings seems to make people attractive to other people. No additional support for the sexual selection hypotheses for the evolution of music was provided by the current results. The musical status of the rater affected his or her judgements, with musicians rating other people as more attractive if they share the common interest in making music. Not the display of being a musician seems to be critical for attractiveness ratings but the perceived or imagined similarity by the rater created by information on musicality, fostering the theoretical significance of the communication aspect of music.
... Behavioural paradigms in real-life social interactions provided some empirical support for Darwin's assertion [10,11], but these studies focused on the effects of visual displays of musical ability on sexual attraction, rather than on musical sound. Further, these studies did not control for women's menstrual cycle phase, hormonal contraception use and musical training. ...
... However, contrary to Darwin's theory, the effects of music were not significant among male participants matched to the female groups for a range of background variables, although there were indications for an effect of music on dating desirability in the unmatched male sample. One possible interpretation is that men generally use courtship displays to attract women, and not vice versa, as implied by previous studies focusing primarily on how women are attracted by men's musical engagement or abilities [9,10,11]. This interpretation is also supported by a recent study that focused on the effect of creative displays (ability to write short-story extracts in relation to a painting and divergent thinking) on judgements of facial attractiveness in men and women, demonstrating how indicators of intelligence, such as creativity, can impact on social judgements during mate choice [48]. ...
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Several theories about the origins of music have emphasized its biological and social functions, including in courtship. Music may act as a courtship display due to its capacity to vary in complexity and emotional content. Support for music’s reproductive function comes from the recent finding that only women in the fertile phase of the reproductive cycle prefer composers of complex melodies to composers of simple ones as short-term sexual partners, which is also in line with the ovulatory shift hypothesis. However, the precise mechanisms by which music may influence sexual attraction are unknown, specifically how music may interact with visual attractiveness cues and affect perception and behaviour in both genders. Using a crossmodal priming paradigm, we examined whether listening to music influences ratings of facial attractiveness and dating desirability of opposite-sex faces. We also tested whether misattribution of arousal or pleasantness underlies these effects, and explored whether sex differences and menstrual cycle phase may be moderators. Our sample comprised 64 women in the fertile or infertile phase (no hormonal contraception use) and 32 men, carefully matched for mood, relationship status, and musical preferences. Musical primes (25 s) varied in arousal and pleasantness, and targets were photos of faces with neutral expressions (2 s). Group-wise analyses indicated that women, but not men, gave significantly higher ratings of facial attractiveness and dating desirability after having listened to music than in the silent control condition. High-arousing, complex music yielded the largest effects, suggesting that music may affect human courtship behaviour through induced arousal, which calls for further studies on the mechanisms by which music affects sexual attraction in real-life social contexts.
... Several experiments have provided mixed empirical support for Darwin's assertion so far. For example, visually displaying a musical instrument may increase male attractiveness in social media (Tifferet et al., 2012), whereas attractiveness ratings do not differ for fictitious verbal profiles of musicians and non-musicians, neither in males nor females (Bongard et al., 2019). These studies did not directly examine the effect of music experience (i.e., musical sounds) on sexual attraction and courtship (Darwin, 1871), which seems to be more relevant in the context of Darwin's theory. ...
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A number of theories about the origins of musicality have incorporated biological and social perspectives. Darwin argued that musicality evolved by sexual selection, functioning as a courtship display in reproductive partner choice. Darwin did not regard musicality as a sexually dimorphic trait, paralleling evidence that both sexes produce and enjoy music. A novel research strand examines the effect of musicality on sexual attraction by acknowledging the importance of facial attractiveness. We previously demonstrated that music varying in emotional content increases the perceived attractiveness and dating desirability of opposite-sex faces only in females, compared to a silent control condition. Here, we built upon this approach by presenting the person depicted (target) as the performer of the music (prime), thus establishing a direct link. We hypothesized that musical priming would increase sexual attraction, with high-arousing music inducing the largest effect. Musical primes (25 s, piano solo music) varied in arousal and pleasantness, and targets were photos of other-sex faces of average attractiveness and with neutral expressions (2 s). Participants were 35 females and 23 males (heterosexual psychology students, single, and no hormonal contraception use) matched for musical background, mood, and liking for the music used in the experiment. After musical priming, females' ratings of attractiveness and dating desirability increased significantly. In males, only dating desirability was significantly increased by musical priming. No specific effects of music-induced pleasantness and arousal were observed. Our results, together with other recent empirical evidence, corroborate the sexual selection hypothesis for the evolution of human musicality.
... Groovy background music increases women's desire to meet again a speed dating partner, and the synchronization of their body sway predicts their interest in a long-term relationship beyond perceived attractiveness (Chang et al., 2021). Even seeing a guitar impacts on women's mating decisions: women tend to reply positively to a friendship request on social network when the profile picture shows a man holding a guitar (Tifferet et al., 2012). Further, activated mating motivations increase creative displays in men and women; both short-term and long-term contexts increase men's creativity, but only a high-quality mate and a long-term context increase creativity in women (Griskevicius et al., 2006). ...
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... Of greater importance to the current study, women respond more positively to men's Facebook friend requests if he is holding (vs. not holding) a guitar in his profile picture (Tifferet et al., 2012). ...
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There has been much debate around the ultimate explanation of cultural displays such as music and art. There are two main competing hypotheses for the function of music: sexual selection or byproduct of the complexity of the human brain. Although there is evidence that playing music increases male attractiveness, the sexual selection explanation may not be mutually exclusive to all types of music. Extreme metal is a genre that is heavily male-biased, not only among the individuals that play this style of music, but also among the fans of the genre. Therefore, it is unlikely that extreme metal musicians are primarily trying to increase their mating success through their music. However, musicians in this genre heavily invest their time in building technical skills (e.g., dexterity, coordination, timing), which raises the question of the purpose behind this costly investment. It could be that men engage in this genre mainly for status-seeking purposes: to intimidate other males with their technical skills and speed and thus gain social status. To explore the reasoning behind investment in technical guitar skills, a sample of 44 heterosexual male metal guitarists was recruited and surveyed about their practicing habits (newly created survey for this study), sexual behavior (using the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory–Revised [SOI-R]; Penke & Asendorpf, 2008), and feelings of competitiveness toward the same sex (via the Intrasexual Competition Scale [ICS]; Buunk & Fisher, 2009). The survey results indicated that time spent playing chords predicted desire for casual sex with women whereas perceptions of playing speed positively predicted intrasexual competitiveness (a desire to impress other men). The discussion addresses how these results, and the extreme metal genre, might relate to the three competing hypotheses for the function of cultural displays.
... Varella et al. (2017) discuss the role of female ornamentation as overlooked ancestral selective pressure in the evolution of artistic propensities. Previous studies focused mainly on men, investigating how they may change their behavioral manifestation to attract a potential mate (Tifferet et al., 2012;Gao et al., 2017;Bongard et al., 2019). This is probably because, due to parental investment theory (Trivers, 1972), men are supposed to be a less investing sex, and hence, less choosy about a potential partner. ...
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... In support of this hypothesis, some studies suggest that musical skill may function as a putative indicator of mental or sexual fitness. For example, both women and men have been reported to prefer sexual partners who demonstrate music abilities (Tifferet et al., 2012), and women (but not men) give higher ratings of facial attractiveness and dating desirability after listening to music compared with a silent control condition . Moreover, women rate prospective longterm partners higher with respect to intelligence, health, and social status when these partners are associated with high-quality musical performance (Madison et al., 2018). ...
There has recently been a growing interest in investigating rhythm cognition and behavior in nonhuman animals as a way of tracking the evolutionary origins of human musicality – i.e., the ability to perceive, enjoy and produce music. During the last two decades, there has been an explosion of theoretical proposals aimed at explaining why and how humans have evolved into musical beings, and the empirical comparative research has also gained momentum. In this paper, we focus on the rhythmic component of musicality, and review functional and mechanistic theoretical proposals concerning putative prerequisites for perceiving and producing rhythmic structures similar to those encountered in music. For each theoretical proposal we also review supporting and contradictory empirical findings. To acknowledge that the evolutionary study of musicality requires an interdisciplinary approach, our review strives to cover perspectives and findings from as many disciplines as possible. We conclude with a research agenda that highlights relevant, yet thus far neglected topics in the comparative and evolutionary study of rhythm cognition. Specifically, we call for a widened research focus that will include additional rhythmic abilities besides entrainment, additional channels of perception and production besides the auditory and vocal ones, and a systematic focus on the functional contexts in which rhythmic signals spontaneously occur. With this expanded focus, and drawing from systematic observation and experimentation anchored in multiple disciplines, animal research is bound to generate many important insights into the adaptive pressures that forged the component abilities of human rhythm cognition and their (socio)cognitive and (neuro)biological underpinnings.
... Users' photos on SNSs become a source of other users' impression (Ivcevic & Ambady, 2012). Additionally, profile photos have practical implications since their appeal can raise the response rate to the friendship requests (Tifferet, Gaziel, & Baram, 2012). Users tend to show rather than tell their identities through the use of photographs. ...
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The aim of this paper is to review recent hypotheses on the evolutionary origins of music in Homo sapiens , taking into account the most influential traditional hypotheses. To date, theories derived from evolution have focused primarily on the importance that music carries in solving detailed adaptive problems. The three most influential theoretical concepts have described the evolution of human music in terms of 1) sexual selection, 2) the formation of social bonds, or treated it 3) as a byproduct. According to recent proposals, traditional hypotheses are flawed or insufficient in fully explaining the complexity of music in Homo sapiens . This paper will critically discuss three traditional hypotheses of music evolution (music as an effect of sexual selection, a mechanism of social bonding, and a byproduct), as well as and two recent concepts of music evolution - music as a credible signal and Music and Social Bonding (MSB) hypothesis.
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abstract of a larger work on the change of species", though treating the subject "simply as a naturalist & not from a general point of view; otherwise, in my opinion, your argument could not have been improved on & might have been quoted by me with great advantage". Darwin continued, declaring that "Your article on Music has also interested me much, for I had often thought on the subject & had come to nearly the same conclusion with you, though unable to support the notion in any detail"(Darwin, 1858). By the time Darwin,came,to set out his thoughts,on music in The descent of man
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Contemporary mate preferences can provide important clues to human reproductive history. Little is known about which characteristics people value in potential mates. Five predictions were made about sex differences in human mate preferences based on evolutionary conceptions of parental investment, sexual selection, human reproductive capacity, and sexual asymmetries regarding certainty of paternity versus maternity. The predictions centered on how each sex valued earning capacity, ambition— industriousness, youth, physical attractiveness, and chastity. Predictions were tested in data from 37 samples drawn from 33 countries located on six continents and five islands (total N = 10,047). For 27 countries, demographic data on actual age at marriage provided a validity check on questionnaire data. Females were found to value cues to resource acquisition in potential mates more highly than males. Characteristics signaling reproductive capacity were valued more by males than by females. These sex differences may reflect different evolutionary selection pressures on human males and females; they provide powerful cross-cultural evidence of current sex differences in reproductive strategies. Discussion focuses on proximate mechanisms underlying mate preferences, consequences for human intrasexual competition, and the limitations of this study.
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Some scholars consider music to exemplify the classic criteria for a complex human adaptation, including universality, orderly development, and special-purpose cortical processes. The present account focuses on processing predispositions for music. The early appearance of receptive musical skills, well before they have obvious utility, is consistent with their proposed status as predispositions. Infants' processing of musical or music-like patterns is much like that of adults. In the early months of life, infants engage in relational processing of pitch and temporal patterns. They recognize a melody when its pitch level is shifted upward or downward, provided the relations between tones are preserved. They also recognize a tone sequence when the tempo is altered so long as the relative durations remain unchanged. Melodic contour seems to be the most salient feature of melodies for infant listeners. However, infants can detect interval changes when the component tones are related by small-integer frequency ratios. They also show enhanced processing for scales with unequal steps and for metric rhythms. Mothers sing regularly to infants, doing so in a distinctive manner marked by high pitch, slow tempo, and emotional expressiveness. The pitch and tempo of mothers' songs are unusually stable over extended periods. Infant listeners prefer the maternal singing style to the usual style of singing, and they are more attentive to maternal singing than to maternal speech. Maternal singing also has a moderating effect on infant arousal. The implications of these findings for the origins of music are discussed.
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Bird song is usually regarded as an attribute of males. However, in some species, females may also produce songs even with comparable complexity to that of males. It has been suggested that female song may evolve due to similar selection pressures acting on males, but no study has yet investigated the evolution of female vocalization in a phylogenetic context, a gap that we intended to fill with this study. Based on standard descriptions in The Birds of Western Palearctic, we classified 233 European passerine species with respect to whether females are known to produce songs or not. We were more likely to find information on female song for species whose song is more studied than for less intensively studied species. When we traced information on female song on a phylogeny, we found that at least in 2 avian families, female song appeared to be the ancestral state, but such an ancestral state may be expected to be even deeper in the phylogenetic tree with increasing information on female song. In fact, we cannot exclude the possibility that the ancestor of European passerines had females capable of singing. In a preliminary comparative study based on the available data, we found some evidence that female song may have evolved under the influence of sexual selection as carotenoid-based dichromatism was positively related to female song among species. Our findings imply that due to publication bias, the evolutionary importance of female song is generally underestimated. Copyright 2007.
Prenatal testosterone may facilitate musical ability. The ratio of the length of the second and fourth digit (2D:4D) is probably determined in utero and is negatively related to adult testosterone concentrations and sperm numbers per ejaculate. Therefore, 2D:4D may be a marker for prenatal testosterone levels. We tested the association between 2D:4D and musical ability by measuring the ratio in 70 musicians (54 men and 16 women) recruited from a British symphony orchestra. The men had significantly lower 2D:4D ratios (indicating high testosterone) than controls (n = 86). The mean 2D:4D of women did not differ significantly from controls (n = 78). Rankings of musical ability within the orchestra were associated with male 2D:4D (high rank = low 2D:4D). Differences in 2D:4D ratio were not found among instrument groups, suggesting that 2D:4D was not related to mechanical advantages in playing particular intruments. Concert audiences showed evidence of a female-biased sex ratio in seats close to the orchestra. This preliminary study supports the thesis that music is a sexually selected trait in men that indicates fertilizing capacity and perhaps good genes. However, the association between low 2D:4D ratio and orchestra membership and high status within the orchestra may result from testosterone-mediated competitive ability. Further tests of the association between 2D:4D and musical ability per se are necessary.
In the current resurgence of interest in the biological basis of animal behavior and social organization, the ideas and questions pursued by Charles Darwin remain fresh and insightful. This is especially true of The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Darwin's second most important work. This edition is a facsimile reprint of the first printing of the first edition (1871), not previously available in paperback. The work is divided into two parts. Part One marshals behavioral and morphological evidence to argue that humans evolved from other animals. Darwin shoes that human mental and emotional capacities, far from making human beings unique, are evidence of an animal origin and evolutionary development. Part Two is an extended discussion of the differences between the sexes of many species and how they arose as a result of selection. Here Darwin lays the foundation for much contemporary research by arguing that many characteristics of animals have evolved not in response to the selective pressures exerted by their physical and biological environment, but rather to confer an advantage in sexual competition. These two themes are drawn together in two final chapters on the role of sexual selection in humans. In their Introduction, Professors Bonner and May discuss the place of The Descent in its own time and relation to current work in biology and other disciplines.
Evenly paced time marking in measured music allows us to predict where the next beat is going to fall. This makes musical pulse a cardinal device for coordinating the behavior of several individuals in a joint, coherent, synchronized performance. Such behavioral synchrony to a regular beat on the part of many individuals is rare among higher animals and raises the question of its origination in anthropogenesis. The fit between one of the evolutionary models proposed to explain synchronous chorusing in insects and basic aspects of our earliest hominid ancestors' social structure suggests that synchronous chorusing may have played a fundamental and hitherto unsuspected role in the process of hominid divergence from our common ancestor with the chimpanzee. The possible elaboration of such an adaptation through female choice (acting both between and within groups of cooperatively chorusing males) and vocal learning (in both its receptive and productive modalities) is discussed with reference to hominoid behavior, the fossil record of hominid brain expansion, and its bearing on the relationship between the origins of language and of music.
'Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.' In The Theory of the Leisure Class Thorstein Veblen sets out 'to discuss the place and value of the leisure class as an economic factor in modern life'. In so doing he produced a landmark study of affluent American society that exposes, with brilliant ruthlessness, the habits of production and waste that link invidious business tactics and barbaric social behaviour. Veblen's analysis of the evolutionary process sees greed as the overriding motive in the modern economy; with an impartial gaze he examines the human cost paid when social institutions exploit the consumption of unessential goods for the sake of personal profit. Fashion, beauty, animals, sports, the home, the clergy, scholars - all are assessed for their true usefulness and found wanting. The targets of Veblen's coruscating satire are as evident today as they were a century ago, and his book still has the power to shock and enlighten. Veblen's uncompromising arguments and the influential literary force of his writing are assessed in Martha Banta's Introduction.
Evidence suggests that humans have neurological specializations for music processing, but a compelling adaptationist account of music and dance is lacking. The sexual selection hypothesis cannot easily account for the widespread performance of music and dance in groups (especially synchronized performances), and the social bonding hypothesis has severe theoretical difficulties. Humans are unique among the primates in their ability to form cooperative alliances between groups in the absence of consanguineal ties. We propose that this unique form of social organization is predicated on music and dance. Music and dance may have evolved as a coalition signaling system that could, among other things, credibly communicate coalition quality, thus permitting meaningful cooperative relationships between groups. This capability may have evolved from coordinated territorial defense signals that are common in many social species, including chimpanzees. We present a study in which manipulation of music synchrony significantly altered subjects’ perceptions of music quality, and in which subjects’ perceptions of music quality were correlated with their perceptions of coalition quality, supporting our hypothesis. Our hypothesis also has implications for the evolution of psychological mechanisms underlying cultural production in other domains such as food preparation, clothing and body decoration, storytelling and ritual, and tools and other artifacts.