WOMEN who date unattractive blokes risk higher stress levels, lower fertility rates and are more likely to have an affair, according to research.
Researchers Dr Simon Griffiths and Dr Sarah Pryke from Macquarie University reported (1) that female Gouldian finches forced to pair up with poor quality partners delayed their breeding and were four times more stressed than their happier nest mates.
The interesting link is that gouldian finches have close parallels to humans, not only being socially monogamous but also producing the same stress hormones. The study claims to be the first to measure how satisfied, or unsatisfied, females are with their partners in a monogamous species.
The researchers explain that in our society there's been an assumption that you'll end up with the partner that's perfect for you. But that isn’t always the case. Birds, like humans, must make the best of the choice available to them.
The research question; wether forced choice affects the breeding success and stress levels of females. According to the study, females with good partners started laying eggs straight away, while those with bad partners waited up to a month. Also, they observed (by blood analysis) females with the wrong male were stressed within just 12 hours of him being introduced into the cage.
1. Proceedings of the Royal Society B