Evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour

Evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour

HideShow resource information
Preview of Evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour

First 470 words of the document:

Evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour
The evolutionary approach argues that human reproductive behaviours have been shaped by
sexual selection.
In evolutionary terms, natural selection is the process by which certain characteristics and
behaviours get passed on in the gene pool because they give the individual a better chance
of surviving and reproducing. Sexual selection is the process within natural selection where
by any characteristic or behaviour that increases the reproductive success of an individual are
selected and these characteristics may get exaggerated over time.
There are two types of sexual selection:
Intra sexual selection occurs when members of one sex compete for mates from
the other. For example, males who were large and aggressive were more likely to
beat opponents and get to mate more often with females and leave behind more
offspring. This is because males invest a lot less in offspring, since their part in
reproduction is very short and therefore the more promiscuous they are, the higher
the increase in their reproductive success. Males will also be concerned with looking
for females with qualities that suggest fertility.
Inter sexual selection occurs when one sex (often females) choose which males to
mate with. For example, females may prefer to mate with males who have a greater
amount of resources. This is because females invest much more in their offspring,
since they will have to go through 9 months of pregnancy, and can only have a small
amount of offspring in their lives. So they need to make sure they are reproducing to
the highest level, so females will be looking for good genetic qualities in a male and
qualities that indicate that he could provide.
Sexual selection may also lead to differences in mating systems. A female may be best in a
monogamous relationship as this will ensure the male stays and provides for the family.
However for the male, a polygamy may be better where he mates with as many females as
possible thus ensuring quantity in offspring increasing the likelihood of some of them
Studied 37 cultures and found that females valued qualities that suggested the financial
potential of males, for example ambitious. On the other hand men valued physical
attractiveness and women who were younger as this indicates fertility. These are both in line
with evolutionary predictions. It was a large scale study using 10,000 participants in 33
different countries, and this gives the study credibility. However participants tended to be
from high socioeconomic groups, and so the study could lack in external validity (cannot
generalise to lower groups). The study may also lack internal validity, due to asking

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

It is therefore possible that participants gave
socially desirable answers in terms of what they were looking for in a partner.
Waynforth and Dunbar
Analysed lonely hearts columns and found more males sought a youthful and attractive
mate than women. They also found then men advertise their resources, while women their
attractiveness. These findings coincide with evolutionary predictions, as well as with Buss'
The advantage of this study is that people are not going to be influenced by investigator
effects when writing their ads.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

Finally most of the evidence for evolutionary theory is based on presumed knowledge about
past human environments leading to speculations about which behaviours may have been
adaptive and passed on. However these are all presumptive speculations rather than hard
facts and evolutionary theory is very difficult to test experimentally. Therefore it can never
be entirely conclusive.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »