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Indirect Fitness on the Evolutionary Success of Celebrities

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2005
End Date 06/30/2006
Funding Source N/A
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Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM


  Gary Davies

Student Researchers
  Brandon Reiley


Abstract: Sexual selection, first proposed by Darwin in 1871, describes the evolution of certain traits by means of interspecies competition. Studies have shown that women, when choosing a mate, preferentially choose celebrities, or men with a high social status; a high social status is a reliable indicator of the ability to control resources. Recent work in the field of implicit associations and stereotypes suggests that individuals harbor unconscious stereotypes and biases. It is proposed that the net evolutionary success of a celebrity or a high status male, is not only a function of his direct fitness (fathering and rearing his own children, and providing assistance to his genetic relatives) but also function on the individual's indirect fitness. The high visibility of celebrities affords them an ideal role in serving as exemplars for the specific set of traits they express. By serving as positive exemplars for these traits, celebrities may contribute to the formation of an unwarranted implicit positive association between these traits and their adaptive qualities in a population. This positive implicit association may confer a selective advantage in others who share the exemplar's traits; which would in turn increase the frequency of these traits within a population. This proposed vehicle for evolutionary adaptation will be refereed to as vicarious selection. The validity of this proposed evolutionary strategy will be evaluated by examining the willingness of students to go on a date with a set of individuals, then priming the experimental group with a portrait of Bill Gates and noting any elevations.

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