Showing posts from December, 2006

Culture and climate

Brandeis historian David Hackett Fischer pointed out in his famous Albion's Seed that racial differences had an enormous impact on the history of America. He notes that the cold climate of colonial Massachusetts

"proved to be exceptionally dangerous to immigrants from tropical Africa, who suffered severely from pulmonary infections in New England winters. Black death rates in colonial Massachusetts were twice as high as whites' - a pattern very different from Virginia where mortality rates for the two races were not so far apart, and still more different from South Carolina where white death rates were higher than those of blacks. So high was mortality among African immigrants in New England that race slavery was not viable on a large scale, despite many attempts to introduce it. Slavery was not impossible in this region, but the human and material costs were higher than many wished to pay. A labor system which was fundamentally hostile to the Puritan ethos of New Englan…

Masculinity and Perceived Status by Females

Physical Strength in Men Correlates with Attractiveness
Am J Hum Biol. 2006 Dec 7;19(1):82-87

Male facial appearance signals physical strength to women. Fink B, Neave N, Seydel H.Previous studies showed that male faces with extreme features that are likely to be associated with testosterone (T) are perceived as dominant and masculine. Women were reported to prefer masculinized male faces, as they may consider T markers to be an "honest" indication of good health. [and a holdover from the days when physical strength equated with status and leadershipTOM]

However, it is also likely that female preferences for certain male faces arise from the fact that dominant-and masculine-looking males are signaling characteristics which maybe beneficial in intrasexual conflict, and thereby also indicate potential achievers of high status, an important factor in female mate selection.

Although numerous studies were built on this assumption, nothing is known about the relationship between p…

Gene Variant in Abused Boys Linked to Antisocial Behavior

by Joan Arehart-Treichel

When maltreatment is combined with having the short MAOA gene variant, it may put children on track for antisocial behavior later on. Genetic screening, however, may not be a strategy for preventing such behavior.

For four years, the case has been building that a short variant of the monoamine oxidase a (MAOA) gene, when combined with harsh discipline, physical abuse, or other forms of maltreatment, puts youngsters at risk for antisocial behavior.

In 2002, as noted in an earlier post, Avshalom Caspi, Ph.D., of the Institute of Psychiatry in London and his coworkers were the first to report such a connection in a sample of more than 400 young men who had been followed since childhood. In 2004, Debra Foley, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, and colleagues reported that they had made the same association in youth aged 8 to 17 (Psychiatric News, September 3, 2004). And now Julia Kim-Cohen, Ph.D., an assistant profess…