Parental Investment


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Trivers, (1972)

 What he said:


Trivers thought that women in more choosey in their mates as they want someone who will invest as much as them in the child. He thought this was because female eggs are less numerous and more costly to produce than sperm.

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A female only has a limited number of offspring so they have to make every one count, whereas men can have unlimited offspring because they keep on producing sperm. Women are born with a set amount of eggs.

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Geher et al (2007)

Studied 91 undergraduates who weren’t parents. Asked them to complete an investment perception scale (which measured how prepared they thought they were for parenting). They found no real difference between male and female participants.

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The male and female participants were exposed to a series of statements that showed typical scenarios where parenting is seen as costly. E.g. taking a day off work because the child is ill. Autonomic nervous system arousal was measured. Males showed higher arousal than females. This shows that males think they are able to cope but aren’t as prepared as females.

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Evaluation of the study


Social desirability bias may have affected the results that the participants gave. All undergrads – so maybe undergraduates aren’t used to having all that responsibility?

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Anderson et al (1999)


Study looked at men’s willingness to pay for their kid’s college education. Dads were just as willing to pay for their own biological children as they were for stepchildren. This shows that he wants to be seen by his partner to be investing in their children to maximise future mating opportunities.

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Evaluation of parental investment

Support Gender differences – females can reduce the burden of providing so much for offspring by finding a male that shows potential skills as a carer Buss – sexual jealousy – males display more distress about female infidelity, where they are more afraid of their partner cheating on them sexually. Females expressed more distress concerning emotional infidelity as it displays lack of commitment of resources

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Disadvantages Generalisation – may be social issues in assuming males are naturally promiscuous where the behaviour may be viewed as normal due to its origins in nature 

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