Skip to main content Accessibility help

Attractiveness biases are the tip of the iceberg in biological markets

  • Pat Barclay (a1)


Physical attractiveness affects how one gets treated, but it is just a single component of one's overall “market value.” One's treatment depends on other markers of market value, including social status, competence, warmth, and any other cues of one's ability or willingness to confer benefits on partners. To completely understand biased treatment, we must also incorporate these other factors.



Hide All
Arnocky, S., Piché, T., Albert, G., Ouellette, D. & Barclay, P. (in press) Altruism predicts mating success in humans. British Journal of Psychology. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12208. Available at:
Barclay, P. (2004) Trustworthiness and competitive altruism can also solve the “tragedy of the commons.Evolution & Human Behavior 25(4):209–20.
Barclay, P. (2006) Reputational benefits for altruistic punishment. Evolution and Human Behavior 27:325–44.
Barclay, P. (2010) Altruism as a courtship display: Some effects of third-party generosity on audience perceptions. British Journal of Psychology 101:123–35.
Barclay, P. (2013) Strategies for cooperation in biological markets, especially for humans. Evolution & Human Behavior 34(3):164–75.
Barclay, P. (2015) Reputation. In: Handbook of evolutionary psychology, 2nd edition, ed. Buss, D., pp. 810–28. Wiley.
Barclay, P. (2016) Biological markets and the effects of partner choice on cooperation and friendship. Current Opinion in Psychology 7:3338.
Barclay, P. & Reeve, H. K. (2012) The varying relationship between helping and individual quality. Behavioral Ecology 23(4):693–98.
Barclay, P. & Willer, R. (2007) Partner choice creates competitive altruism in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences 274:749–53.
Cuesta, J. A., Gracia-Lázaro, C., Ferrer, C., Moreno, Y. & Sánchez, A. (2015) Reputation drives cooperative behaviour and network formation in human groups. Scientific Reports 5:7843.
Gallo, E. & Yan, C. (2015) The effects of reputational and social knowledge on cooperation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112:3647–52.
Gangestad, S. W. & Buss, D. M. (1993) Pathogen prevalence and human mate preferences. Ethology and Sociobiology 14:8996.
Henrich, J. & Gil-White, F. J. (2001) The evolution of prestige: Freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evolution and Human Behavior 22:165–96.
Kafashan, S., Sparks, A., Griskevicius, V. & Barclay, P. (2014) Prosocial behaviour and social status. In: The psychology of social status, ed. Cheng, J. T., Tracy, J. L. & Anderson, C., pp. 139–58. Springer.
Little, A. C., Burt, D. M., Penton-Voak, I. S. & Perrett, D. I. (2001) Self-perceived attractiveness influences human female preferences for sexual dimorphism and symmetry in male faces. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences 268:3944.
Lyon, B. E. & Montgomerie, R. (2012) Sexual selection is a form of social selection. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 367:2266–73.
Marlowe, F. W. (2003) The mating system of foragers in the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Cross-Cultural Research 37:282306.
McNamara, J. M., Barta, Z., Frohmage, L. & Houston, A. I. (2008) The coevolution of choosiness and cooperation. Nature 451:189–92.
Melis, A. P., Hare, B. & Tomasello, M. (2006) Chimpanzees recruit the best collaborators. Science 311:1297–300.
Milinski, M., Semmann, D. & Krambeck, H.-J. (2002) Donors to charity gain in both indirect reciprocity and political reputation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences 269:881–83.
Nelissen, R. M. A. & Meijers, M. H. C. (2011) Social benefits of luxury brands as costly signals of wealth and status. Evolution and Human Behavior 32:343–55.
Noë, R. & Hammerstein, P. (1994) Biological markets: Supply and demand determine the effect of partner choice in cooperation, mutualism and mating. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 35:111.
Noë, R. & Hammerstein, P. (1995) Biological markets. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 10:336–39.
Vail, A. L., Manica, A. & Bshary, R. (2014) Fish choose appropriately when and with whom to collaborate. Current Biology 24:R791–93.
West-Eberhard, M. J. (1979) Sexual selection, social competition, and evolution. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 123:222–34.
West-Eberhard, M. J. (1983) Sexual selection, social competition, and speciation. Quarterly Review of Biology 58:155–83.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed