Trying to get someone's attention? Looking angry may be the key. The face most likely to stand out in a crowd is an irate one, according to a new study, and men are better than women at picking up the anger that a face conveys.That seems rather glib and over-committed to evolutionary biology. One could just as well crank out a theory that women today have learned to blunt their perception of anger in faces so that they can form and preserve relationships with men. Even within the evolutionary theorizing: Why is it more helpful to a man to see anger? If the man is more able to fight, and the woman needs to rely more on fleeing, then the woman has the greater advantage in quickly perceiving anger.
On the other hand, women are more adept at detecting more socially relevant expressions that communicate happiness, sadness, surprise and disgust....
Detecting the angry man in a sea of faces, the authors say, has a survival advantage for both sexes.
"From an evolutionary perspective," [postdoctoral fellow Mark A. Williams and psychology professor Jason B. Mattingley] write, "the potential for physical threat from a male is greater than that from a female."
So any perceptual system that helps detect an angry man is an advantage.
I don't like the way sociobiologists observe something and then generate a reason why it would have had a survival advantage. If they'd observed the opposite, they'd have been able to generate a reason to support it too. The fixed point is their belief that the quality they've discovered exists at a biological level, and it's easy enough to make everything fit.
(People who think everything is socially constructed are at least as irritating.)