Money is new dating criteria in China
Economic growth in China seems to have caused increased desire for good financial prospects in a potential mate, one UT professor has found.

Psychology professor David Buss and a team of researchers have discovered that the need for financial security among Chinese mate-seekers has grown over the past 25 years, reflecting economic development in China. The findings were published in the February edition of “Personality and Individual Differences.”

Buss led an International Selection Project in 1983 that asked 500 Chinese men and women to rank a set of qualities they seek in a sexual partner. In 2008, the researchers once again collected data from 1,060 participants and compared that data to that of the first study.

The results show a strong correlation between the increase of the standard of living in China over the last two decades and the importance of a “good earning capacity.” Both genders rated financial security higher in the 2008 study, but more women than men desired traits such as “social status.”

The study also found that men place more emphasis on youth and attractiveness of mates, while women prefer financial prospects and social standing. This gender gap supports the evolutionary theory that women and men look for partners who are fertile and financially stable.

“These findings reveal both important trends in the cultural evolution of values surrounding mating, as well as the robustness of sex differences in mate preferences over time,” Buss said.

Pent-up emotion may cause aggression
Bottling up emotions can make people more aggressive but fatigue does not, according to a study published in the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science” in March.

UT professors Arthur Markman and Todd Maddox and two University of Minnesota researchers showed participants two infamous classic movie scenes: the overeating scene in “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” and the toilet bowl scene in “Trainspotting.” Half of the subjects, who were mostly students and members of the Army, were asked to stay awake for 24 hours prior to the study. The others were allowed to sleep.

Before watching the clips, some of the subjects were told not to visibly react to the images. Others were allowed to watch without restriction.

The study, which was funded in part by the U.S. Army, concluded that those who refrained from reacting were more aggressive than those who acted freely. The participants who were deprived of sleep reacted no differently than those who were well-rested, suggesting that fatigue does not make people more aggressive.

“Our research suggests people may become more aggressive after they have to control themselves,” Markman said. “Whatever psychological mechanisms are at work when people deal with stress and then have to exercise self control later are not the same thing that happens when you’re tired.”

The results of Markman and Maddox’s research reinforces the “ego depletion effect,” in which bottling up emotions may lead to increased aggression later in life.

Local action key to species conservation
Human activity, not simply climate change, is affecting plants and animals at the local level, according to UT biologists.

Professors Camille Parmesan and Michael C. Singer published their findings in “Nature Climate Change” in March, in response to increased pressure from policymakers to determine how many of the changes observed in species are from greenhouse gases versus other factors.

The general consensus among scientists is that funding would be better spent on studies of species adaptations and conservation of endangered species. Regardless of the reason behind species change, the affected animals and plants are feeling the heat.

“A changing climate is a changing climate, irrespective of its cause,” the scientists wrote in the journal.
The researchers emphasize the need to focus on human interactions with the environment, including air pollution and urban sprawl.

In “Nature Climate Change,” Parmesan and Singer cite the Quino butterfly population in the 1980s, which became endangered as a result of the urban growth of San Diego and Los Angeles. Singer, who has worked with the species since the 1960s, said that while climate change is partially to blame for the decline in Quino butterflies, it wasn’t the only driver.

The biologists stress the importance of acting locally to restore damaged habitats and removing invasive species. The issue of climate change is a problem on a much larger scale, they said.

— Jordan Schraeder

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