In a competitive mating environment, the mate choices of rivals may contain valuable information about the quality of potential mates (Gibson and Höglund 1992; Nordell and Valone 1998), information that may otherwise be costly to attain (Gibson et al. 1996; Dugatkin and Godin 1998), unreliable (Sirot 2001; Brennan et al.
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1996), or as a source of additional information (Gibson and Bachman 1992; Mery et al. If mate-choice copying is a domain-specific adaptation, we expect the manner in which the information is utilized to match the problem.
However, there is more that may constrain the evolution of copying than function.
The form of extant mechanisms in which context copying appears will also have consequences.
There is much evidence that humans, as other species, are affected by social information when making mate-choice decisions.
Witnessing a rival show interest in a member of the opposite sex tends to lead human observers of both sexes to thereafter rate that person as more appealing as a potential mate. We investigate whether this effect is specific to the individual witnessed or will generalize to other potential mates with shared characteristics—that is, whether humans exhibit trait-based or just individual-based mate-choice copying.
We found that whereas this kind of generalization did occur with some traits, it appeared to depend on age, and conspicuously, it did not occur with (inner) facial traits.
We discuss possible explanations for the age specificity and cue specificity in terms of informational benefits and how people attend to unfamiliar faces.
Milan Kundera (1978) describes it as “one of life’s great secrets: women don’t look for handsome men, they look for men with beautiful women” (p.12).
Hogan-Warburg (1966), describing ruff hens, said it somewhat differently: “It has been observed several times that a crouching or copulating female especially attracts other females and stimulates them to crouch also” (p.196). 1990; Pomiankowski 1990) is one way in which this happens, where having been chosen as a mate heightens one’s subsequent appeal as a mate among observing rivals.