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  • intrasexual selection (mate competition) - members of same sex compete for access to the other sex, in order to pass on genes
  • intersexual selection (mate choice) - preference of one sex for members of the opposite sex who possess certain qualities, this determines the areas in which the other sex must compete, passing them on to their offspring, became innate to look for characteristics
  • men can't see how fertile women are so use physical attractiveness as an indication - WHR 0.7, big eyes, good skin, healthy hair
  • male strategy: sperm competition - natural selection acted on men, making them more competitive by producing larger testicles, more copious ejaculations and faster sperm
  • female strategy: courtship - means of selecting males on the basis of reproductive fitness via health, strength and ability to provide resources, it also means males invest more time and therefore increases the chance of them sticking around after successful mating
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Buss 1989 - total sample of 10,000+, across 6 continents and a mean age of 23 however this doesn't make it representative of all cultures, p's were asked biological info (age, sex) and what age they wanted to marry, the age difference and how many kids, then they rated a set of characteristics on a four point scale, ranking them on their desirability in a mate

In all 37 samples men rated good looks more than women did, men and women preferred the male to be older and in 36/37 samples women rated financial prospects higher than men did, also both men and women rated characteristics such as intelligence, kindness and dependability as being desirable.

Singh 1993 - used data from the past 50 years of beauty contest winners and Playboy centre folds, finding WHR of 0.7 as a common feature, proposing that it acts as an initial 'filter' to screen those who are unhealthy or infertile and then other factors come into play

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  • women don't need men like they once did, in Western cultures they have greater financial security and employment opportunities and there is a rise in the number of single women having children
  • Strassberg and Holty - constructed four 'female seeking male' lonely hearts on two internet dating boards, over the next six weeks there were 500 responses and the most popular ad was the one where the woman described herself as 'financially independent, successful and ambitious' which got 50% more responses than the next most popular ad - 'lovely, attractive and slim'


  • gender bias in short term mating - research reports that men want a variety of sexual partners and more casual sex than women but this could not have occured without willing females, there must be some benefits to women. Greiling and Buss suggest women could profit by using casual sex as a way of leaving a poor relationship or to produce more genetically diverse offspring
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Trivers (1972) - investment by parents in individual offspring, which increases the offspring's chance of survival and chance of reproductibe success, at the expense of the parents' ability to invest in other children, dead or alive

  • women invest more into offspring as they are limited in the no. they can have, making females a valuable reprodutive resourse if this is great
  • men have a 'quantitiy not quality' attitude as they are only restricted by the willingness/availability of a female
  • MATERNAL INVESTMENT - eggs are costly to produce and there are less of them, risk of death during childbirth and breast feeding provides food for current offspring

Trivers concluded that females evolve to become more selective in their choice of partner whereas males develop a more competitive temperament and have a wider choice of partners

When males do invest, they run to risk of investing in children that are not their own as they aren't 100% sure, they are also more concerned about the fidelity of their partners

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Clark and Hatfield 1989

  • 96 american students were approached by a stranger and asked if they would go on a date with, go to the person's apartment or to have sex, equal numbers of m and w agreed to go on the date, 11x more males agreed to the apartment, 75% of men said yes to sex while no females did


  • cross cultural study found men and women both wanted the male to be older etc
  • women get more distressed at emotional betrayal because they need the support but men are more distresed at sexual betrayal as it means he hasn't looked after her enough


  • 91 graduates to complete a parental investment perception scale to measure how they see themselves in the future as parents
  • there was no difference between m and f, but when asked qs about actual investment i.e cancelling a meeting to collect a sick child, males showed higher levels of ANS suggesting they were uncomfortable
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  • it is outdated
  • in modern times men do invest equally

Anderson - fathers invest equally in college education of step and biological children

Bell - cant explain sex differences purely based on success of reproduction and passing on genes, affected more by emotions or a moralistic level - casual sex seen as acceptable for men not women


limited - ignores personal and social conditions

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