Saturday, September 13, 2008

This was what being α was?   posted by Razib @ 9/13/2008 12:51:00 PM

I recall once in high school history my teacher telling us that the average American lived like a king compared to Henry VIII. Not implausible considering the conveniences which were the products of only the past few generations, let alone centuries. That being said, people were in abundance during Henry's period, at least when it came to the whims of the king. So I was surprised when I was skimming over some original documents detailing the English Reformation that several contemporary observers note that Ann Boleyn was rather average in attractiveness. Her exceptionality in appearence was her rather dark complexion for an Englishwoman. In any case, I decided to check out the paintings of Henry's other wives, and was shocked that they seemed rather unexceptional by an large. I left out Anne of Cleves because she wasn't picked by Henry, though I suppose Catherine of Aragon is a borderline case since Henry was young enough that he had little choice in the matter. Anyway, makes you wonder about what people actually do when they have power to do what they want to do, and what they value.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bias toward the beautiful   posted by Razib @ 8/24/2008 09:50:00 AM

One thing I have wondered about: why do people want to give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of looks if they get a "Myspace angle" photo or only hear someone's voice? I have talked to many friends who are really biased in the direction of giving people the benefit of the doubt about the reality that there is a strong incentive to select the flattering picture (in large part because of retarded individuals such as my friends). So the individual is going to be less attractive than their photo on average even if it isn't a totally blurry or tiny image. Additionally, in terms of pure perception I notice that when you see a very small thumbnail size photo there's a tendency to perceive the person as more attractive than they are when you click the image and see them at a higher resolution. Finally, many people easily create a fantasy image of someone based on their voice.

So what's up with this? Why aren't we preprogrammed to be choosier and more jaded about these things? False negatives are less harmful than false positives? Why are guys still surprised when they meet their Myspace date who never posted a fully body shot and notice that the height to width ratio isn't what they'd prefer? Is it the whole polygyny thing? Are women any different?

Labels: ,