Saturday, January 12, 2008

Using science to find The One

The Economist reports on a fascinating development in the dating world: using science to find a partner through "personal chemistry matching". In 1995 Claus Wedekink established in a landmark paper that straight women overwhelmingly prefer the smell of men who have dissimilar major histocompatibility complexes (MHC). (The study was later replicated and seems to hold for men's preferences as well). Since (1) MHC is a gene region partly responsible for the immune system, (2) disease is an important selective pressure and (3) individuals with a wider range of MHC genes are better protected against disease, the theory goes that people evolved preferences for mates with dissimilar MHCs (which is in turn detected through smell).

Now will analyze your DNA for only $1,995 and match you with people with the most dissimilar MHCs! Scientific Match claims that their service has a whole range of benefits (including a higher frequency of orgasm for women) and liberally cites the scientific literature to support their case.

It's amazing what people come up with. I have long suspected that it won't be long before evolutionary psychological self-help books start appearing (if they haven't already...).

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