Evolutionary Explanations for jealousy + infidelity

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  • Created by: EClou
  • Created on: 21-02-16 12:42

AO1 - infidelity and Jelousy


  •  i.e. a sexual encounter with someone other than your partner
  • males are likely to be unfaithful - have genes that cause them to seek many sexual partners to maximise offspring 
  • females will be unfaithful for 2 reasons - 1. to seek best genes for offspring -best combo for woman = young fit/fertile man + old man with good resources, 2. if 2 men think they're the father of her kids there'll be twice the resource and protection.


  • state of fear/suspicion cause by real/imagined threat to current status - found in all cultures - genetic rather than learned - sexual jealousy's purpose is to ensure exclusivity with mates
  • lack of exclusivity for men = > damage to rep. fitness than women - CUCKOLD
  • only way to ensure paternity is to control female's autonomy - usually with agg.
  • mate retention strategies - guarding/threats/bribes/inflicting costs 
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AO2 - Infidelity and Jealousy


  • + Buss et al (1992) infidelity -> agg bc triggers -ve emot resp + is threat to relat. so agg beh reduce threat. - men risk cuckoldry -> jealous of men, women risk sharing resorces for kids = jealous of women
  • + Buunk et al (1996) for men infidelity -> sexual jealousy = ev. conseq. of cuckoldry; women - relates to concern abt resources for kids tf = lack of e.g. emo/finan support ->jealousy + agg.
  • Camilleri (2004) - risk of partners infidelity predicts sexual coercion in males nor women- men risk cuckoldry not women


  • mate retention strategies (MRS) - guarding/threats/bribes/inflicting costs 
  • + Shackelford et al (2005) -quest. in US on 461 men and 560 women in relat. ps asked abt use of MRS - freq of 26 types of violence: guarding + neg inducement +ve corr with violence score and emot. manipulation + vigilance best predicted violence against women. 
  • - no causal conc/good sample - generalisable/cultural bias
  • + Wilson et al (1995) - women agreeing with quets. items e.g. "he's jealous + doesn't like you talking to men" = 2x likely to experience violence - 72% required medical attention. 
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AO3 - Infidelity and Jealousy


  • GENDER BIAS - research mainly looks at male retention strategies + male violence against women  - however we know (Archer 2000) that women carry out physical assaults on men
  • SOCIALLY SENSITIVE: - using evolutionary science to explain/justify violence towards women/uxoricide/domestic violence/stalking and ****
  • DETERMINISTIC - states that genes control our jealous behaviour and we don't exercise free will in acting out the male retention strategies
  • evolutionary explanation doesn't explain why people don't all respond in the same way when faced with the same adaptive problem. 
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