It was meant to be a study of the mating habits of red- and black-headed Gouldian finches. When it was released to Discovery News, it became a study of women settling for ugly spouses and becoming stressed out. How?
Simon Griffith, associate professor of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University put it this way to Discovery News, “In socially monogamous animals, very few individuals end up with the perfect partner because, of course, he or she is likely to be paired to someone else. That is, lots of men would like to be married to, say, Angelina Jolie, and lots of women would love to be married to Brad Pitt. But the reality is that they can’t and only someone like Brad Pitt is able to marry someone like Angelina Jolie.”
So physical good looks = desire to marry. Where did he get his data? From the finches of course.
Griffith and his colleagues “observed partnerships and mating in Gouldian finches.” Apparently, the red and blacked headed birds “are partially genetically incompatible with each other.” Not sure what “partially genetically incompatible” means, but it sounds like nature did not mean for them to mate.
The professor and his team first experimented with allowing the birds of both types to freely mix in an aviary and choose their partners. Next the group forced pairing and found, “When females paired with males of the same head color, eggs were laid nearly a month earlier than those for mismatched couples. Blood tests determined that females matched with a different colored male had elevated levels of the stress hormone corticosterone that were three to four times higher than levels in females paired with preferred mates.”
Conclusion: “A large proportion of females [that] wind up with unattractive males of below-average quality…[have a] “less-than-ideal relationship…[that] raise female stress levels.” And according to the study, it’s those hormones that increase due to ugly partners can be responsible for “everything from cheating to break-ups.”
Not sure how the “partially genetically incompatible” got lost in this experiment or the fact that these are birds and not humans! Jumping from an animal study on birds to the fact that only “beautiful” people can actually attract “beautiful” people and that human women are so shallow that our stress level increases when we marry ugly men is a leap. “Beautiful” is in the eye of the beholder as is “ugly,” but that ugly study is really making my stress level go sky high.