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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Why Women Disparage Each Other's Looks -  

It's a setting I'm sure we're all somewhat familiar with (or at least have seen happen on movies or TV). The group of women in the bathroom at a club or restaurant who are disparaging the looks of some other woman who is usually still outside (of course in the movies I watch the one still outside ends up overhearing the comments but overcomes this peer adversity and eventually gets the guy -- I know I'm a bit of a sap). It turns out that this impulse to disparage the looks of other women may be an evolutionarily selected trait.

In a study recently released in the Royal Society's Biology Letters Maryanne Fisher reports an experiement in which one group of women were asked to evaluate the attractiveness of a group of photographs of other women. Fisher found that women tend to find other women least attractive at times during their menstrual cycle that correlate with greatest fertility. She speculates that this disparaging might help increase the odds that a given woman would be most likely to reproduce.

Men showed no such cyclicity in their evaluation of the looks of other women.
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