Carlota Batres & diving into sexual selection
August 22, 2016 by KyleMarian
On Aug 31st, Guerilla Science will host the return of #SensorySpeedDate to NYC. Get to know Carlota Batres, one of our collaborator scientists, in this exclusive Q&A.
Who are you and what do you study?
I’m Carlota Batres and I study the science behind what it is that we find attractive in other people. For example, one of my publications compared the facial preferences of people with internet access to those without internet access. I found that people with internet access preferred more masculine men and more feminine and thin women, suggesting that internet access is one of many factors that influences who we find attractive.
Human sexual behavior and selection is fascinating. What was that moment in your life that made you pursue your area of research?
Most people don’t know this about me, but before I pursued a PhD in psychology, I actually worked in finance. One day, one of my coworkers came into the office showing pictures of his new baby to everyone and saying how much everyone tells him the baby looks like him. My instinctual response was to tell him about research that has found that people (especially maternal relatives) are more likely to say that babies look like their fathers (even though they don’t) as a way to promote assurance of paternity, that way they are more likely to believe the baby is theirs and invest in both the baby and the mother.
Probably not the best thing to say to a new father… but yeah haha…that was the moment I knew I needed to leave finance and follow my passion to study human sexual behavior.
What is the strangest thing you’ve learned from your research?
I get a lot of weird emails given what I do… from people sending me pictures of themselves and asking for my expert opinion on their attractiveness to people wanting to undergo plastic surgery and wanting me to consult with them on the ratios that would be most aesthetically pleasing. However, much of my research has found that individual differences (e.g., at what age you went through puberty, the safety index of the country you are from, how old you are, whether you are on hormonal contraceptives) play a crucial role in what you find attractive.
This fall 2016, we’re excited to bring Lust, Sex, Brains, a.k.a. #SensorySpeedDate back to NYC. What surprised you the most when doing this event in the UK?
Coming from teaching undergraduates, I was shocked to see how attentive all the participants at “Lust, Sex, & Brains” were- even after a few drinks! It was amazing to see so many different types of people from such differing backgrounds come together at a bar to learn about why it is that they find what they do attractive.