Nobody appreciates complicated music like an ovulating lady, says a bizarre new study from the University of Sussex. Apparently, women in their most fertile phases are overwhelmingly attracted to guys who produce elaborate jams — the more musical, the better.
To figure it out, researchers
attended a rock concert asked nearly 1,500 women to listen to a series of tunes — all similar in melody, but different in complexity — and then evaluate how likely they’d be to want a short- or long-term relationship with the composer. Most of the time, women didn’t exhibit a preference either way, and the composers of the simple tunes seemed just as attractive as the composers of the fancy arias. But that all changed when women were at peak fertility. When women were ovulating, they consistently wanted short-term flings with the composers of the complicated music. Notably, their hormones didn’t change their long-term preferences, just their short-term ones. Which, practical. Rockstars don’t have the best reputation for sticking around anyway.
The same findings did not hold true with complicated visual art, however — music, it seems, occupies an evolutionary category of its own. And that’s significant: according to the researchers, this study might provide the first concrete evidence supporting Darwin’s theory that “the primary biological function of music is sexual courtship.” It’s possible that music is a way for people to “display specific adaptive qualities.” If you can come up with a complicated tune, in other words, then you’re probably creative, innovative, and able to learn — all traits that make you desirable as a potential mate. Or at least, a potential baby-daddy.
Does the same hold true when the sexes are reversed? Are women who can compose complex tunes extra attractive to men? More research is needed, but the Sussex team thinks it’s possible. And I, for one, certainly hope so — make my years of viola lessons count for something, you know?
[h/t The Telegraph]