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Table of contents
PREFACE
TOUCH-1
TOUCH-2
TOUCH-3 (begin)
TOUCH-3 (end)
TOUCH-4 (begin)
TOUCH-4 (end)
SMELL-1
SMELL-2
SMELL-3.1
SMELL-3.2
SMELL-3.3
SMELL-3.4
SMELL-3.5
SMELL-4 (begin)
SMELL-4 (end)
SMELL-5
HEARING-1
HEARING-2
HEARING-3
VISION-1.1
VISION-1.2
VISION-1.3
VISION-2.1
VISION-2.2
VISION-2.3
VISION-2.4
VISION-3
VISION-4
VISION-5
APPENDIX A
APPENDIX B HISTORY-1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.2
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.3
APPENDIX B HISTORY-3.1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-3.2
INDEX OF AUTHORS

IV. 

 

The Alleged Charm of Disparity in Sexual Attraction--The Admiration for 

High Stature--The Admiration for Dark Pigmentation--The Charm of 

Parity--Conjugal Mating--The Statistical Results of Observation as Regards 

General Appearance, Stature, and Pigmentation of Married 

Couples--Preferential Mating and Assortative Mating--The Nature of the 

Advantage Attained by the Fair in Sexual Selection--The Abhorrence of 

Incest and the Theories of its Cause--The Explanation in Reality 

Simple--The Abhorrence of Incest in Relation to Sexual Selection--The 

Limits to the Charm of Parity in Conjugal Mating--The Charm of Disparity 

in Secondary Sexual Characters. 

 

 

When we are dealing with the senses of touch, smell, and hearing it is 

impossible at present, and must always remain somewhat difficult, to 

investigate precisely the degree and direction of their influence in 

sexual selection. We can marshal in order--as has here been attempted--the 

main facts and considerations which clearly indicate that there is and 

must be such an influence, but we cannot even attempt to estimate its 

definite direction and still less to measure it precisely. With regard to 

vision, we are in a somewhat better position. It is possible to estimate 

the direction of the influence which certain visible characters exert on 

sexual selection, and it is even possible to attempt their actual 

measurement, although there must frequently be doubt as to the 

interpretation of such measurements. 

 

Two facts render it thus possible to deal more exactly with the influence 

of vision on sexual selection than with the influence of the other senses. 

In the first place, men and women consciously seek for certain visible 

characters in the persons to whom they are attracted; in other words, 

their "ideals" of a fitting mate are visual rather than tactile, 

olfactory, or auditory. In the second place, whether such "ideals" are 

potent in actual mating, or whether they are modified or even inhibited by 

more potent psychological or general biological influences, it is in 

either case possible to measure and compare the visible characters of 

mated persons. 

 

The two visible characters which are at once most frequently sought in a 

mate and most easily measurable are degree of stature and degree of 

pigmentation. Every youth or maiden pictures the person he or she would 

like for a lover as tall or short, fair or dark, and such characters are 

measurable and have on a large scale been measured. It is of interest in 

illustration of the problem of sexual selection in man to consider briefly 

what results are at present obtainable regarding the influence of these 

two characters. 

 

It has long been a widespread belief that short people are sexually 

attracted to tall people, and tall people to short; that in the matter of 

stature men and women are affected by what Bain called the "charm of 

disparity." It has not always prevailed. Many centuries ago Leonardo da 

Vinci, whose insight at so many points anticipated our most modern 


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