A team led by Neil Risch and Esteban González Burchard of the University of California, San Francisco, took DNA samples from married couples in Mexican and Puerto Rican populations, examining around 100 genetic markers from across the genome. From these markers, the researchers were able to discern the proportions of Native American, European and African ancestry for each person.
They found that within Mexican populations, people tended to pick partners with similar proportions of Native American and European ancestry, while in Puerto Rican populations couples had paired up based on their shared balance of European and African ancestry.
Quite how our DNA influences our desires remains mysterious. Risch and his colleagues did not find that geography or socio-economic status could explain the ancestral influence on romance, and factors like hair, eye and skin colour individually only had a minor role. According to Burchard, "Certainly physical characteristics, such as skin pigment, hair texture, eye color, and other physical features are correlated with ancestry and are likely to be factors in mate selection. However, the spouse correlation for these traits and the correlation of these traits with ancestry were actually below what would be required to fully explain the phenomenon".
Socioeconomic profile did not explain the mating patterns as well as genetic markers. I'd like to know what causes these results. I can imagine a number of genetic mechanisms by which mating preferences would track with genetic markers. Among the potential explanations that come to mind:
I would like to see studies done that use a combination of genetic marker comparison and pictures of people to see to what extent physical attraction tracks with similarity of genetic markers. To distinguish between the first two explanations above children of transracial adoptions could be included in the study.
Has much imprinting research been done about human attraction across races?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2009 November 22 06:54 PM Brain Beauty|