What is the Evidence for the Good Genes Hypothesis?
Introductions and conclusions to many contemporary research studies on the psychology of beauty include some reference to the data supporting the good genes hypothesis. Briefly, the good genes hypothesis asserts that an animal is attracted to some feature in the other sex because that feature indicates that the possessor carries good genes. According to Jerry Coyne, in Why Evolution is True, there are only two studies to date that directly support this assertion: one involving gray tree frogs and the other involving peafowl. Additionally, he reports that many studies have failed to find support for the good genes hypothesis.
While the good genes hypothesis remains the preferred – but mostly unsubstantiated – hypothesis in many cases of elaborate, sexually dimorphic traits it is premature to overemphasize the explanation in research on human beauty. I believe academic rigor calls for more cautious and tentative explanations for human beauty data.