Today's on-line health edition of The Wall Street Journal
has an article in its "Science Journal"
(requires subscription) about evolutionary psychology and mate selection. Evolutionary psychologists claim that the better looking a woman is, the more she expects from a mate in terms of status, wealth, and power. It works the other way around, too, hence the "trophy wife" title for this theory. (Anna Nicole and J. Howard Marshall are the poster kids for this one.) It turns out that Cornell researchers have an alternative explanation that explains the data even better: we look for mates who have traits that we see in ourselves (i.e., "likes attract"). The article concludes: "There's only one problem with the notion that we look for mates who resemble ourselves: We generally stink at self-evaluation. 'People tend to be blissfully unaware of their incompetence,' concludes a study by Cornell and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign scientists in the journal Psychological Science. 'Where they lack skill or knowledge, they greatly overestimate their expertise and talent, thinking they are doing just fine when, in fact, they are doing quite poorly.'" This may explain why deans like student evaluations as much as they do.