Sexual selection and Human reproductive behaviour

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  • Sexual Selection & Human Reproductive Behaviour
    • Anisogamy
      • Anisogamy refers to the differences between male and female sex cells.
        • Singh (1993) measured waist to hip ratio preferences of males for females
          • Findings were that any hip and waist size can be attractive as long as the ratio is 0.7 (shows the female is fertile not currently pregnant.
            • This shows that evolutionary factors are reflected in patterns of human reproductive behaviour through partner preference
      • Male gametes (sperm) are created continuously in vast numbers
      • Female gametes (eggs or ova) are produced in intervals for a limited number of fertile years
    • Inter-sexual Selection
      • Selection of mates between sexes (e.g. females selecting males or males selecting females).
        • Clark and Hatfield (1989) sent students to  ask other students and ask 'would you go to bed with me tonight?
          • 0% of females said yes. 75% of males said yes.
            • This supports the suggestion of female choosiness and that males have evolved a different strategy to ensure reproduction
      • Females make a greater investment of time, commitment and other resources after birth
        • Need to be choosier than males so seek a male who will provide healthy offspring and support
      • Preferences of both sexes determine attributes that are passed on - e.g. choosing the tallest male for greater reproductive success.
        • Over time this leads to taller and taller men being selected (runaway process)
    • Intra-sexual Selection
      • Selection of mates within sexes (e.g. males competing with other males for mates)
        • Buss (1989) surveyed over 10,000 adults in 33 countries asking about partner preference
          • He found that females valued resource-related characteristic more than males. Males valued reproductive capacity
            • This supports sex differences due to anisogamy and partner preferences derived from sexual selection
      • Males do best if they reproduce as frequently as possible.
        • Competition is necessary as females are a limited resource.
          • Males who compete successfully pass on their genes to the next generation
      • Intra-sexual selection pressures lead to certain patterns of human reproductive behaviour:
        • Male aggression - the most aggressive males are more likely to reproduce
          • Male preference for youthful and fertile women because these are signs of fertility
    • Waynorth & Dunbar (1995) - studied newspaper dating to see how men and women describe themselves.
      • Found women tended to offer physical attractiveness and indicators of youth, while men offered resources such as financially stable
        • These findings support the evolutionary suggestions that women will seek resources whilst men are more focused on signs or reproductive fitness


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