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Lecture 4

Evolution - Week 4 Notes

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Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Week 4 - Human Mate Choice Unit 4.1 - Long Term Mating Strategies ● Human mate choice ● How has evolution affected human mating strategies and mate choice mechanisms? What are females interested in and what are males interested in? ● Human mating systems ● Large parental investment by both sexes predicts active mate choice by both sexes ● Differential investment by males and females predicts ● Some skew towards polygyny ● Different mate choice strategies ● Murdock 1967 Ethnographic Atlas: ● Sample of 849 human cultures re: sanctioned marriages ● 708 polygyny (usual or occasional) ● 137 monogamy (nominal) ● 4 polyandry ● Multiple contractual alliances with men in different clans ● Fraternal polyandry ● Provides good evidence that we've evolved through a long history of polygyny ● Monogamous societies ● Self-report and DNA-based studies indicate extramarital offspring of 10% or higher ● Mate Preferences ● Mate preferences may act as proximate mechanisms to facilitate ultimate mating strategies ● Parental Investment Theory and Mating System Theory both predict: ● That both men and women should exhibit mate preferences, ● But these may differ to reflect differential investment and reproductive capacity ● Buss and Colleagues ● Large cross-cultural study ● Approximately 10,000 participants, 37 cultures ● Asked how important certain features are when determining what you wanted in a partner ● Respondents rated importance of characters in long-term mate ● 0=unimportant; 3=indispensable ● See TABLE 4.2 in text!!!! ● Love is number 1 around the world ● Dependability and emotional stability next 2 ● Traits with low cross-cultural variability but relatively high differences are most likely to be product of natural selection ● Traits a little lower on the list tended to have higher sex differences (eg. Good looks, ambition) ● Cultural variation reflects extent of 'human universal' ● Sex differences may reflect differential sexual selection ● Long term vs short-term mates ● Male vs female Women's long-term mating strategies ● Adaptive problem: selecting male who is able to invest in offspring ● Evolved preferences: ● Financial prospects ● Social status ● Older age ● Ambition ● Size, athletic ability ● Adaptive problem: selecting male who is willing to invest in offspring ● Evolved preferences: ● Dependability/stability ● Cues of love/commitment ● Positive interactions with children ● Adaptive Problem: selecting male who is able to provide protection ● Evolved preferences: ● Size ● Strength ● Courage ● Athletic ability ● Adaptive problem: selecting male who is a good father ● Evolved preferences: ● Dependability ● Stability ● Kindness ● Positive interactions with children ● Adaptive problem: selecting male who is compatible ● Evolved preferences: ● Similar values ● Similar age ● Similar personality ● Adaptive problem: selecting male who is healthy ● Evolved preferences: ● Physical attractiveness ● Symmetry ● Health ● Preference for resources ● Men vary in capacity and willingness to commit resources to mate and offspring ● Data indicated widespread female preference for good financial prospects ● Sex difference in how important financial resources are ● Eg. Good nest site, enough food to feed babies, etc - "resource holding potential" ● Should have evolved preferences for things that are correlated with resources ● Personal ads: ● Left side - what does the person look for in a partner in the ads (good looks and/or resources) ● 45% men look for good looks ● 21% of women look for good looks ● Women 4x likely to say they want their partner to have a good job ● Right side - what does the person describe about themselves ● Trend is the exact opposite ● Women more likely to say they're good looking ● Men more likely to say they have a good job ● Survey data on relative important of good financial prospects (0-3 scale) ● Women - 1939: 1.8; 1985: 1.9 ● Men - 1939: 0.9; 1985: 0.8 ● Minimum acceptable earning capacity - what is the minimum percentile you find acceptable for a long term mate? ● Across 37 cultures, women value financial prospects twice as important as men ● Low cross cultural variability, high sex difference; likely to be a naturally selected trait ● Income and copulation success ● Survey data on frequency of intercourse for Canadian couples ● Calculated number of potential conceptions (NPC) ● Corrected it for average length of menstrual cycle and looked at how many potential offspring they could have had ● Found to be correlated with income, covaried with age ● Correlation stronger for older men ● Preference for social status ● Similar trend, but found to be more variable ● Correlation between social status and income across different cultures ● Age preferences ● Age often associated with cumulated resources ● Income increases with age ● Physical strength peaks late 20s/early 30s ● Hunting skills likely increase with age ● Analyze personal ads: ● Number of requests for age bracket __ Number of advertisers available for age bracket ● Found that: ● 2x many people looking for 25 year old women than there are 25 year old women ● At younger ages, women have higher market value than men ● Peak market value higher in women ● Peak age for men is a decade older ● Cross-cultural preference for older men ● Respondents said their ideal age difference for a long term partner (0 rating would be the same age as you ● Women typically looking for men 3-4 years older ● Men, it's more variable, but prefer younger ● Preferences consistently relative to woman's own age ● Trade-off between resources and risk of mortality? ● Risk of incompatibility with increasing age difference? ● As males get older and older, they prefer women who are increasingly younger and younger than them ● Preference for ambition ● Hard work, industriousness ● One of the best predictors of income and promotion ● 1950s study (US) ● Female mate preference for: ● Men who enjoy their work ● Show career orientation ● Display industry and ambition ● 1980s study (US) ● Ambition/industriousness consistently rated important or indispensable ● Risk of woman ending long-term relationship increases with job loss, lack of career progression ● Similar preference ratings across 37 cultures ● Preference for dependability ● Top 3 mate characteristics most highly valued by women (and men): 1. Love 1. Dependable characteristics 1. Emotional stability ● Cross cultural study about dependability ● Women and men value equally 31/37 ● Women value more than men 15/37 ● Men value more than women 1/37 ● Why value dependability? ● Signal of consistent resources ● Avoidance of undependable, emotionally unstable personalities ● Emotionally unstable men: ● Erratic provisioning of resources ● Monopolize shared resources ● Increased jealous behaviour ● Increased number of affairs ● All of these can reduce resources for someone's own offspring, so we have evolved a mate preference for dependable man ● Emotional instability/undependability ● Mates incur large cost due to ● Fluctuations in economic and emotional resources ● Risk of diverted costs to other mates/offspring ● Risk of costs of jealous and abuse ● Preference for athleticism ● Athleticism may reflect provisioning ability and protection ● Non-human primates: females associate with males that deter other males ● Protection from male physical and sexual domination has been a factor leading to group living across species ● Cross-cultural evidence ● Women consistently rate physical strength and athletic ability more highly than men do ● Data not as good/consistent as age or financial prospects ● N.B.??? consistently less important than other traits (between 'somewhat desirable' and very desirable') ● Preference for healthy appearance ● Costs of unhealthy mate ● Reduced provisioning of resources ● Increased risk of mortality ● Risk of disease transmission to mate or offspring ● Risk of passing on genetic propensity/disorder ● Cross-cultural evidence ● Both women and men rate good health as highly important (2.3 on 0-3 scale) ● Indicators of health and disease resistance common mating signals across animal species ● Fluctuating asymmetry ● Deviations from perfect symmetry in bilaterally symmetrical species ● Correlations between symmetry and indicators of health ● Environmental stress during development leads to asymmetry ● Individuals better able to cope with stress develop more symmetrically ● Facial symmetry ● More symmetrical faces are rated more attractive ● Symmetry correlated to physiological, psychological and emotional health measures ● Symmetrical faces judged as more attractive ● Symmetric men: ● Rated as more attractive ● Have more sexual partners ● More extra-pair sexual partners ● Begin sexual intercourse earlier in life ● Facial masculinity ● Effects of testosterone include: ● Broader, longer jawbone ● Stronger brow ridge ● More pronounced cheek bones ● Women show preferences for these traits ● Women select more masculine faces when asked to select more attractive faces ● Same faces selected when asked to select healthiest face ● These preferences will vary based on context ● Preference for commitment ● Loving and romantic behaviour appears culturally universal (at least 89% of cultures) ● Acts of commitment universally acknowledged as acts of love ● Love, commitment and fidelity cross-culturally rate as indispensable in a mate ● Investment in children: ● Women should prefer men who invest in their children ● Men may channel resources to offspring with other women ● Men may withhold investment in children when paternity is questionable ● Do women prefer men who are willing to invest in children? ● Images of men positively interacting with children rated as more attractive ● 2.8 on a -5 to +5 scale ● Man alone or neutrally beside child: 2.0 ● Man ignoring child was least attractive: 1.3 ● Specific to child interaction, no domestic duties ● However, no effect on men's rating of women ● Contextual effects ● Mate choice does not happen on an absolute scale ● Women's preference for mating partner should vary depending on social and physiological context ● Eg. Financial resources could be based on the women's financial status ● Effects of personal resources ● Structural powerlessness hypothesis - women's preference for status, resources, etc is a result of socioeconomic inequity rather than evolved preferences ● Cross-culturally, women make less money and have lower SES ● Is this pitting ultimate vs proximate arguments? ● Both arguments could be true and both could be false ● These argument don't depend on other one being wrong - both could have an influence ● 2 proximate hypotheses ● Women in positions of power and high economic status should relax standards (structural powerlessness) ● Women should maintain standards (adaptive) ● Bakweri culture (Cameroon) ● Skewed sex ratio 2.36:1, men:women ● Women higher socioeconomic status (reversal of most cultures) ● Women still prefer men with resources ● US culture ● Positive correlation between importance of resources and women's own income (not negative) ● Women with more money prefer men with even more money ● Temporal context effects ● Preference ratings vary for short-term relationships compared to long term relationships ● Choice study varying physical attractiveness and character traits ● Preference for good looks for brief sexual affair ● Preference for good character for marriage ● Menstrual cycle effects ● Probability of conception varies across ovulation cycle ● May influence mate preference ● Women close to ovulation prefer more masculine faces (sign of good reproduction, but could also be a source of negative things like aggression) ● Or women less likely to be fertilized prefer less masculine faces ● Women's olfactory acuity peaks around ovulation ● Women rate odours from more symmetrical men as more attractive ● This effect modulated by menstrual cycle ● Effects of self-perception ● Women that are preferred by men would have a greater variety of men to choose from ● Does self-perception of attractiveness affect mating preferences? ● Mate choice is a competitive process ● Mate choice decisions occur in a context where others are making choices - have to assess realistic options (mate preference vs mate choice) ● Attraction to masculine faces ● Correlated to women's self-rating of attractiveness ● Attraction to symmetrical faces ● Correlated to women's self-rating of attractiveness ● Younger, more attractive women ● List more traits they desire in men in personal ads ● Have higher minimum standards for potential mates ● Effects on behaviour ● Do women's mating preferences affect mating behaviour? ● Responders to personal ads ● Number of female responders correlates to advertising males' age, income, and education ● Researchers placed bogus ads to see response rates ● Marriage data ● Highly attractive women more likely to marry men with high SES ● Women tend to marry older men ● Reflects both male and female preferences Men's long-term mating strategies ● Male mating strategy ● Across taxa, males tend to: ● Compete to be chosen by females ● Be less choosey about whom they will mate with ● Parental investment theory - strength of choosiness should be related to degree of parental investment ● Human men ● High level of parental investment (but less than women's) ● Men should be choosey, but less so than women ● Proximate mechanisms: mate preferences ● Why commit? ● If men are limited by number of matings, why commit to one female? ● Increased chance of being chosen as a mate ● Increased ability of being chosen by desirable mate ● Increased certainty of paternity ● Increased survival of children ● Increased reproductive success of children ● Male mate preferences ● Male mating preferences focus on women's ● Reproductive value ● Fertility ● Increased fitness if female mate has higher capacity for reproduction ● Reproductive value ● Number of children likely to be produced in the future ● Declines with age ● Fertility ● Number of viable offspring produced for a given age ● Peaks in mid 20s ● Reproductive value vs fertility ● Eg. 15 year old: high reproductive value, low fertility ● Challenge for male mate selection ● Fertility and reproductive value cannot be assessed directly ● Concealed ovulation ● Dissociated sexual activity ● Males must rely on proxy traits ● Preference for youth ● Cross culturally, men prefer women younger than they are (see graph) ● As men age, their preference for youth increases ● Youth or reproductive value? ● Evolutionary theory predicts that age preferences are a proxy to increase mating with women with high reproductive value and high fertility ● Age preferences of teenagers was assessed ● Teenage boys did indeed prefer older teenage girls, not younger ● Preference for physical beauty ● Are male preferences for physical beauty socially constructed? ● Some cultural variation in 'ideal' body weight ● Associated with food availability and SES ● In cultures where resources are scarce, heavier women are considered more attractive ● In cultures where calories are plentiful, more attractive to be thinner ● Preferences for thin figure more strongly reported by women than men in many cultures ● Emerge early in life - infants gaze longer at more attractive faces ● Cross cultural - facial images rated with high correspondence across cultures ● Averaged and symmetrical faces are more attractive ● Body type ● Regardless of ideal weight, men in most cultures prefer feminine waist to hip ratio (WHR) ● Women with lower WHR (pretty consistent cross-culturally) ● Rated as more attractive
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