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date: 27 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter highlights and discusses the role of women’s competitive ornamentation as one of the relevant, and so far overlooked, ancestral selective pressures in the evolution of artistic propensities. The authors critically discuss how and why sex differences and sexual selection processes acting on women have been disregarded for more than a decade. The authors review available convergent evidence about sex differences in aesthetics and artistic propensities showing that, overall, women outnumber men. Then the authors propose and show evidence that higher women’s inclination toward artistic domains, including ornamentation of body, behavior, and objects/places, can serve as a social arena for attracting/maintaining mates and dealing with rivals, primarily through self-promotion via competitive ornamentation. The chapter concludes by developing connections with related theories that broaden the scope of the field and highlight predictions for future research.

Keywords: arts, music, sex differences, sexual selection, female competition, ornaments

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