Science Advice Goddess: Mud About You
It isn't just the men of OkCupid posing with adorbs animals. Back in 2014, kittens as photo props were a thing for the mass-murdering jihadists of ISIS -- like suicide bomber and furbaby daddy Abu Hurayra al-Amriki: "Before I blow up a cafe of innocent people, I like to have a cuddle with my widdle bitty kitty, Butterscotch."
The men of OkJihad sneered at a CNN reporter's speculation that this was a recruitment ploy to lure lady militants (she-hadists?), but it seems to be more than a random marketing strategy.
Evolutionary psychologist Maryanne Fisher and her colleagues found that men on dating apps seeking committed relationships -- aspiring Mr. Boyfriends and Mr. Husbands -- were more likely than the aspiring Captain Hookups to post pics of themselves with kids and dogs.
Chances are the doggie and baby nuzzlers did this subconsciously -- probably out of an understanding (shaped by men's co-evolution with women) of women's long-term mate preferences. By showing a willingness and ability to invest resources and care for a needy little creature, they're advertising themselves as "stay and pay" dads in a man mall of "hump 'em and dump 'em" cads.
Interestingly, cats appeared "infrequently" in men's profile pics. The researchers speculate that catdaddy "might not be as strong a signal of male investment," as cats require far less care, attention, and expense than dogs. (They even do their own grooming!) And bad news for our mass-murdering cat fancier friends: Cats are "often equated with femininity," and men who pose with them are seen by women as "less masculine, more neurotic and less desirable." (Take that, you ISISSIES!)
Now, before anybody shouts, "Hello, gullible!": Yes, some of these "dogs and babies are my pickup posse" dudes could be lying about wanting a relationship. For your purposes, that doesn't matter. Posing with a dog or a kid sends the commitment-minded ladies just the right message: "I can care for a more advanced life form than a fake plant."
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Follow her on Twitter @amyalkon. Order her latest "science-help" book, "Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence."