Tobias Kordsmeyer and Lars Penke

The association of three indicators of developmental instability with mating success in humans

Evolution and Human Behavior

Developmental instability (DI) has been proposed to relate negatively to aspects of evolutionary fitness, like mating success. One suggested indicator is fluctuating asymmetry (FA), random deviations from perfect symmetry in bilateral bodily traits. A meta-analytically robust negative association between FA and number of lifetime sexual partners has been previously shown in men and women. We examined the relationship between bodily FA across twelve traits and indicators of quantitative mating success in 284 individuals (141 males, age 19–30  years). Two further indicators of DI, minor physical anomalies (MPAs) and asymmetry in palmar atd angles, were also assessed. For men, no significant associations were detected, whereas for women, unexpected positive relationships of FA with the number of lifetime sexual partners and one-night stands emerged. Thus, in a large sample and using a more highly aggregated FA index, our study fails to replicate previous findings, though equivalence testing also did not support deviation from previous meta-analytic estimates, especially for men. No associations were found for MPAs and FA in atd angles in either sex.