Differences in time use for mating and nepotistic effort as a function of male attractiveness in rural Belize

David Waynforth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores whether physical attractiveness was a determinant of reproductive strategy in a sample of men living in rural Belize. A theoretical argument is presented to explain why differences in male physical attractiveness should lead to differences in strategy as evidenced by time-use, and why these differences should be especially apparent in nonindustrialized societies. Retrospective data were collected on men's time use during their last day off from work. The results were that more facially attractive men spent more time in mating effort and less time in nepotistic effort than less facially attractive men. Another component of physical attractiveness, fluctuating asymmetry, was not successful in predicting differences in time use. The results suggest that facially attractive men spend their leisure time seeking sexual access rather than spending it with kin, because their potential fitness returns are higher for this activity, whereas less attractive men receive higher returns to time spent with kin. This could be due directly to fitness returns to nepotism received by less attractive men, or because family involvement displays potential parental investment skills that are attractive to women. This may help build a reputation for reliability; in other words, time spent in nepotistic effort could be an alternative mating tactic that appeals to women's desire for a responsible paternally investing mate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


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