Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/482

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

thing pertaining to human mating has been the subject of wide speculation and assertion since the time of da Vinci.

Schopenhauer states that every person requires from the individual of the opposite sex a one-sidedness which is the opposite of his or her own. The most manly man will seek the most womanly woman, and conversely. Weak or little men have a decided inclination for strong or big women, and strong or big women for weak or little men. Blondes prefer dark persons or brunettes; snub-nosed, hook-nosed; persons with excessively thin long bodies and limbs those who are stumpy and short, and so on! Analogous superstitions are wide spread,[1] though differing in form. Westermarck,[2] in summarizing the views of various writers adds, "If contrasts instinctively seek each other, this may partly account for the readiness with which love awakens love."

Some have even ventured the opinion that where the husband and wife are unlike, the offspring are more numerous, or stronger! Again there is the popular superstition that after a long life together husband and wife come to resemble each other physically.[3]

Of course conclusions the opposite of all of these are not wanting.[4]

Such is the state of knowledge to which the unaided observation of a complex phenomenon can lead us—a snarl of contradictions. As far as we know, the only method of disentangling it and arriving at some certainty is the analysis of large bodies of observations by means of refined statistical methods.

  1. The way in which mere impressions may become stamped with authority by the approval of careless writers is illustrated by the following quotation, from a standard authority on sociology.

    "It is almost proverbial that tall men choose short wives, and the union of tall women with short men is only a little less common. Thin men and plump girls fall in love, as do fat men and slender women. Blondes and brunettes rush irresistibly together."

  2. '"History of Human Marriage," pp. 353-354, 1901.
  3. Fol ("La Resemblance éntre Epoux," Rév. Scientifique, Vol. 47, pp. 4749, 1891) has tried to investigate this by means of photographs of newly married and aged couples, and while he concludes that there is a considerable resemblance between husband and wife, it is no more intense in aged than in newly-married couples.
  4. For example, Francis Galton, whose data and methods were not yet adequate for dealing with so complicated a problem, wrote ("Natural Inheritance," p. 85, 1894 ed.) with a caution which led him into error: "Whatever may be the sexual preferences for similarity, or for contrast, I find little indication in the average results obtained from a fairly large number of cases, of any single measurable personal peculiarity, whether it be stature, temper, eye-color, or artistic tastes, in influencing marriage selection to a notable degree. Nor is this extraordinary, for though people may fall in love for trifles, marriage is a serious act, usually determined by the concurrence of numerous motives. Therefore we could hardly expect either shortness or tallness, darkness or lightness in complexion, or any other single quality, to have in the long run a large separate influence."