EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 7, Special Issue 2, 2015
Regional variation in grooming: Exposure to pathogens predicts increased motivation to coif
Previous research has found that people in geographical areas characterized by higher pathogen prevalence value a mate’s physical attractiveness more than people living in geographical areas with lower pathogen prevalence. In this study, the corollary was explored: because people living in high pathogen regions tend to choose mates possessing a physical appearance associated with stronger pathogen resistance, people living in high pathogen regions versus low pathogen regions should also be expected to expend more time and effort grooming so as to make themselves appear more pathogen resistant. To test this hypothesis average time spent (in hours per day) grooming (showering, shaving, applying deodorant or perfume) was obtained for both men and women from all 50 US states as well as state levels of pathogen prevalence. In addition, state levels measures related to health and mate suitability (life expectancy, overall physical well-being, poverty, and economic disparity) were also explored. A multiple regression revealed that the model was able to account for 35.7% of the variance in men’s daily grooming (R 2adj = .357, F(1, 47) = 6.62, p = .013), and 33.1% of the variance in female’s daily grooming (R 2adj = .331, F(1, 48) = 5.03, p < .001). The bivariate correlations in both groups indicate that pathogen prevalence is the strongest predictor of regional differences in grooming. It is suggested that because the physical attractiveness of potential mates is more valued in high versus low pathogen regions, individuals in high pathogen regions will attend to their own physical attractiveness in response.
How to cite this article:
Garvey, K. (2016). Regional variation in grooming: Exposure to pathogens predicts increased motivation to coif. The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 7, Sp. Iss. (2), 38-50.