Talk Sex comparison as an empirical approach to Music and Arts Capacities Evolution

Přednáší: Marco Antonio Correa Varella

Despite much theoretical speculation about ancestral adaptive values of human artistic inclinations, more cross-cultural empirical work is needed to test and refine those theories. Since males and females have faced different sets of selective pressures, sex comparison might shed some light on evolutionary theories explaining artistic propensities.


According to sexual selection men are interested in and competing for social status and masculinity, while women are more interested in and competing for attractiveness. Therefore female would be more prone to aesthetics and the artistic domain. We tested this hypothesis using (I) self-reports across Brazil, Canada and Europe and (II) Brazilian public records.


(I) In total, 386 women and 320 men from Brazil, Europe and Canada answered a questionnaire asking about how much they: “have musical experience”, “like to sing”, “like to play an instrument”, “appreciate music”, “hear music per day”, “feel music as important in their life”, “like to dance” and “like the arts”.

(II) We gathered almost 71,000 applications and registrations for undergraduate courses on Music, Dance, Theater, Plastic Arts, Visual Arts, and Art and Technology from 1980 to 2010 from three university websites covering four Brazilian cities and universities.


(I) Across cultures, men reported preference for playing and had greater musical experience, while women scored higher on singing, dancing, arts in general, music appreciation, and considered music more important in their lives.

(II) Males applied and registered for most of the Music modalities, except for singing which had more female applicants. In all other Art courses, female applicants and registrants outnumbered males.


Our convergent cross-cultural evidence using various data sources show that the arts are mostly the female competitive arena for displaying and appreciating beauty and attractiveness. These results thus support adaptive theories predicting female biased sex differences in music and arts.


Loading the player ...