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Chapter 4

CHAPTER 4 NOTES - Evolutionary Psych

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York University
PSYC 3420
Irwin Silverman

CHAPTER 4: Women’s Long-Term Mating Strategies WOMEN’S LONG-TERM MATING STRATEGIES • As a result of the powerful survival and reproductive advantages that were reaped by those of our ancestors, who chose mates wisely, many specific desires evolved • Modern humans have inherited a specific set of mate preferences • Scientists have also documented evolved mate preferences in many nonhuman species • For example the weaverbird female check’s the males nest to see if it meets her standards or not • A male whose nest is rejected by several females will often break it down and rebuild another one from scratch • A woman in our evolutionary past who chose to mate with a man who was unable to sustain a relationship found herself raising her children alone and without benefit of the resources, aid, and protection • Over thousands of generations, a preference for men who showed signs of being able to commit evolved in women • This preference solved key reproduction problems, just as food preferences solved key survival problems THEORETICAL BACKGROUND FOR THE EVOLUTION OF MATE PREFERENCES Parental Investment and Sexual Selection • What defines biological sex is simply the size of the sex cells • Mature reproductive cells are called gametes, each gamete has the potential to fuse with another gamete of the opposite sex to form a zygote (a fertilized gamete) • The female gametes are stationary and come loaded with nutrients • The male gametes have greater mobility • Men produce millions of sperm bit woman produce an unreplenishable lifetime supply of approximately 400 ova • Fertilization and gestation, key components of human parental investment, occur internally in woman • One act of sexual intercourse can produce an obligatory and energy consuming nine-month investment by the woman • Woman alone engage in the activity of lactation/breastfeeding which lasts as long as four years in some societies • No biological law of the animal world dictates that females must invest more than male • In some species such as the Mormon cricket and pipefish seahorse, the males invest more • The male Mormon cricket produces a large speramatophore that is loaded with nutrients • Females compete with each other for access to the high-investing males • Among these so-called sex-role reversed species, males are more discriminating than females about mating CHAPTER 4 page 1 • The females that are chosen by these males contain 60 percent more eggs than those that were rejected • Among all 4,000 species of mammals and more than 200 species of primates, the females go through internal fertilization and gestation Mate Preferences as Evolved Psychological Mechanisms • If an ancestral women is trying to decide between two men, one is stingy and the other is generous, all else being the same, she would choose the generous one • If over evolutionary time, generosity in men provided these benefits repeatedly and the cues to a man’s generosity were observable and reliable, selection would have favoured the evolution of a preference for generosity in a mate • Men differ in their physical prowess, athletic skill ambition, kindness, empathy, emotional stability, intelligence, social skills etc. • Men also differ in the costs they carry into a mating relationship • Some come with children, a bad temper, etc. • Women lacking specific adaptively relevant preferences are not our ancestors; they were out-reproduced by choosier women • Because preferences change overtime, mate seekers must gauge the future potential of a prospective partner • A man might lack resources now, but as a medical student, might have excellent future promise • Gauging a man’s mate value requires looking beyond his current position and evaluating his future potential • Evolution has favoured women who prefer men possessing attributes that increase benefits and who dislike men possessing attributes that increase costs • Preferences that give priority to particular components do not completely solve the problem of choosing a mate • A woman must deal with the problem of identifying and correcting evaluating the cues that signal whether a man possesses a particular resource • The assessment problem becomes especially acute in areas which men are apt to deceive women, such as pretending greater status than they actually possess or greater commitment than they are truly willing to give • Selecting a mate requires psychological mechanisms that make it possible to add up the relevant attributes and give each its appropriate weight on the whole • Some attributes weigh more than others in arriving at the final decision about whether to choose or reject a particular man THE CONTENT OF WOMEN’S MATE PREFERENCES Preference for Economic Resources • The evolution of the female preference for males offering resources may be the most ancient and pervasive basis for female choice in the animal kingdom • Bird example: females preferred to mate with the males with the larger bounties and entirely avoided males without resources • Males were catching edible prey and useful objects such as feathers and pieces of cloth CHAPTER 4 page 2 • Among humans the evolution of women’s preference for a long-term mate with resources would have two required preconditions • Resources would have to be accruable, defensible, and controllable by men during human evolutionary history • Men would have to differ from each other in their holdings and their willingness to invest those holdings in a woman and her children INSERT TABLE 4.1 PAGE 110 HERE • Over history, woman could often garner more resources for their children through a single spouse than through several temporary sex partners • Men invest in their wives and children with provisions to an extend unprecedented among primates • In all other primates, females must rely solely on their own efforts to acquire food because males rarely share those resources with their mates • Men provide food, find shelter, defend territory, and protect children • They teach children sports, hunting, fighting, hierarchy negotiation, friendship, and social influence • Help transfer status, aiding offspring in forming reciprocal alliances later in life • These benefits are unlikely to be secured by a woman from a temporary sex partner • Woman needed cues to signal a man’s possession of these resources • These cues might be indirect, such as personality characteristics • They might be physical, for example the man’s athletic ability or health • Reputation, the esteem in which a man is held by his peers • The possession of economic resources, however, provides the most obvious cue Preference for Good Financial Prospects INSERT FIGURE 4.1 4.2 4.3 • Evidence from dozens of studies documents that modern U.S. women indeed value economic resources in males more than men do • Women rated financial prospects as important whereas men rated them as merely desirable but not very important • Women in 1939 valued good financial prospects in a mate about twice as highly as men did, a finding that was replicated in 1956 and again in 1967 • Douglas Kenrick devised a useful method for revealing how much people value different attributes by having men and women indicate the “minimum percentiles” o each characteristic they would find acceptable • Women indicate their minimum acceptable percentile for a husband on earning capacity is the 70 percentile (above 70% of all other men) whereas men’s minimum th acceptable percentile for a wife’s earning capacity is only the 40 • Personal ads in newspapers and magazines confirm that women actually in the marriage market desire strong financial resources CHAPTER 4 page 3 • These female preferences are not restricted to western societies • Some participants came from nations that practice polygyny (the mating or marriage of a single man with several women) such as Nigeria and Zambia • Other participants came from nations that are monogamous (the mating of one man with one woman) such as Spain or Canada • The countries included those in which living together is as common as marriage and those countries in which living together without marriage is frowned on • The study sampled 10,000 individuals in 37 cultures • All the woman placed more value than men on good financial prospects, overall twice as much as men • Women worldwide desired financial resources in a marriage partner more than men • Since that study, findings from other cultures continue to support the hypothesis that women have evolved preferences for men with resources • Women more than men valued economic ability, as well as qualities linked to economic ability such as status, ambition, and education • In addition, substantially more female than male characters in the folktales form each culture placed a primary emphasis on wealth or status in their expressed mate preferences • In a hunter-gatherer society, women place a great importance on a man’s foraging abilities-primarily his ability to hunt • This fundamental sex difference also appears in modern forms of mating, such as speed dating and mail-order brides • In speed dating, women chose men who indicated they had grown up in affluent neighborhoods • In another study, they found that women’s choices more than men’s choices were influenced by a potential date’s income and education • Woman also place a lot of value on intelligence in a long-term mate, a quality highly predictive of income and occupational status • In more traditional societies such as Kenya, women preferred those men who had large plots of land • A study of those living in Finland in the 18 and 19 century found that women married to wealthier men had higher survival rates and a larger number of children who survived to adulthood than women married to poorer men Preference for High Social Status • Ancestral men had clearly defined status hierarchies, with resources flowing freely to those at the top and trickling slowly down to those at the bottom • “head men” and “big men” are those who wield great power and enjoy the resource privileges of prestige • Linguistically, therefore, it seems that many cultures have found it important to invent words or phrases to describe men who are high in status • Women desire men who command a high position because social status is a universal cue to the control of our resources CHAPTER 4 page 4 • Along with status comes better food, more abundant territory, and superior health care • For male children worldwide, access to more and better quality mates typically accompanies families of higher social status • One study examined short-term and long-term mating to discover which characteristics people especially valued in potential spouses, as contrasted with potential sex partners • Women judged the likelihood of success in a profession to be highly desirable in a spouse • These cues to future status are seen by women as more desirable in spouses than in casual sex partners • U.S. women place great value on education and professional degrees in mates- characteristics that are strongly linked with social status • In 37 cultures, woman valued social status in a prospective mate more than men in both communist and socialist countries • Hierarchies are universal features among human groups, and resources tend to accumulate to those who rise in the hierarchy • Woman appear to have solved the adaptive problem of acquiring resources in art by preferring men who are high in status • When forced to trade off among different mate characteristics, women prioritize social status, viewing it as a “necessity” rather than a “luxury” Preference for Somewhat Older Men Insert Figure 4.4 & 4.5 & 4.6 • The age of a man provides an important clue to his access to resources • Human adolescents rarely command the respect, status, or position of more mature men • Tiwi (an aboriginal tribe) is a gerontocracy in which the very old wield most of the power and prestige and control of the mating system • Even in U.S. culture, status and wealth tend to accumulate with increasing age • In all 37 cultures, women preferred older men, about 3.5 years older • Income increases with age (in contemporary Western societies • Among the Tiwi tribe, men are at least 30 before they have enough social status to acquire a first wife • Rarely does a Tiwi man under the age of 40 attain enough status to acquire more than one wife • Older age, resources, and status are coupled across cultures • In traditional societies, part of this linkage may be related to physical strength and hunting process • In traditional hunter-gatherer societies, hunting skill peaks even later roughly to the mid to late 30’s • In those areas, a study showed that a man’s hunting ability was the strongest predictor of women’s judgments of a man’s attractiveness, closely followed by a man’s status and reputation as a good warrior CHAPTER 4 page 5 • The possession of resources is not enough, women need men who possess traits that are likely to lead to the sustained acquisition of resources over time (a man’s ambition is one of these traits) Preference for Ambition & Industriousness • Sheer hard world proves to be one of the best predictors of past and anticipated income and promotions • Those who work hard achieve higher levels of education, status, salaries, and anticipate greater salaries and promotions that those who failed to work hard • Industrious and ambitious men secure a higher occupational status than lazy unmotivated men • U.S. women seem to be aware of this connection, because they indicate a desire for men who show the characteristics linked with getting ahead • Women far more than men desired mates who enjoyed their work, show career orientation, demonstrate industry, and display ambition • Women in the study of short and long term mating regard men who lack ambition as extremely undesirable, whereas men view lack of ambition in a wife as neither desirable nor undesirable • Women across cultures are likely to discontinue a long-term relationship with a man if he loses his job, lacks career goals, or shows a lazy streak • This cross-cultural and cross-historical evidence supports the key evolutionary expectation that women have evolved a preference for men possessing signs of the ability to acquire resources and a disdain for men lacking the ambition that often leads to resources Preference for Dependability and Stability • The second as third most highly valued characteristics, after love, are a dependable character and emotional stability/maturity • In 21/37 countries, men and women had the same preference for dependability in a partner and in the remaining 16 cultures, women valued dependability more than men • Women in 23 cultures value emotional stability/maturity significantly more than men do, in the remaining 14 cultures they value this quality equally • Averaging across all cultures, women give this quality a 2.68 and men give is a 2.47 • They are reliable signals that resources will be provided consistently over time • Men who lack dependability and emotional stability inflict heavy emotional and other costs on their mates • They tend to be self-centered and monopolize shared resources • They are very possessive and show higher-than-average sexual jealously, they tend to be abusive both verbally d physically • They are moodier and have more affairs on average • All these costs indicate that such men will absorb their partners’ time and resources, divert their own time and resources elsewhere, and fail to channel resources consistently over time • Dependability and stability are personal qualities that signal increased likelihood that a woman’s resources will not be drained by the man CHAPTER 4 page 6 • The unpredictable aspects of emotionally unstable men inflict additional costs by preventing solutions to critical adaptive problems • For example meat that is suddenly not available because a mate decided at the last minute to take a nap instead of going hunting resources that are supplied predictably can be more efficiently allocated to the many adaptive hurdles that must be overcome in everyday life Preference for Height and Athletic Prowness • The importance of physical characteristics in the female choice of a mate is notable throughout the animal world • Male gladiator frogs are responsible for creating nests and defending the eggs • The female strikes him with great force and if the male moves/bolts too much from the nest, the female leaves to find an alternative • Bumping helps a female frog assess how successful the mate will be at defending her clutch • Women sometimes face physical domination by larger, stronger males, which can lead to injury and sexual domination • These conditions occurred with some regularity during ancestral conditions • One benefit to women of long-term mating is the physical protection a man can offer • A man’s size, strength, physical prowess, and athletic ability are cues that signal solutions to the problem of protection • Women judge short men to be undesirable for a short-term & long-term mate • They find it very desirable for a potential marriage partner to be tall, physically strong, and athletic • Men that are muscular/lean and those that have a V-shaped torso (broad shoulders relative to hips) are also very desired • Women can accurately estimate a man’s shoulder-to-hip ratio from the sound of his voice • 80% of women wanted a man to be 6 feet or taller • Personal ads placed by taller men received more responses and a study revealed that a man’s height was one of the four strongest predictors of the number of women who responded to the male ads (the others being education level, age, and resources) • Tall men are perceived as more dominant, more likely to date, and more likely to have attractive partners • Women solve the problem of protection from other aggressive men at least in part by preferring a mate who has the size, strength, and physical prowess to protect them • These physical qualities also contribute to solutions to other adaptive problems such as resource acquisitions and genes for good health, since tallness is also linked with status, income, symmetrical features, and good health • “traits of male body structure such as height, shoulder width, and upper-body musculature are sexually attractive to women and also intimidating to other men” CHAPTER 4 page 7 Preference for Good Health: Symmetry and Masculinity • Mating with someone who is unhealthy would have posed a number of adaptive risks for our ancestors • An unhealthy mate is weak, therefore would fail to deliver food, protection, health care, and investment in childrearing • An unhealthy mate would be at increased risk of dying, cutting off the flow of resources and forcing a person to incur the costs of searching for a new mate • An unhealthy mate might transfer communicable diseases or viruses to the chooser, impairing his/her survival and reproduction • An unhealthy mate might infect the children of the union, imperiling their chances of surviving and reproducing • If health is party heritable, a person who chooses an unhealthy mate would risk passing on genes for poor health to his/her children • Women and men judged “good health” to be highly important • An important physical maker of good health is the degree to which the face and the body are symmetrical • Environmental events and genetic stressors produce deviations from bilateral symmetry, creating lopsided faces and bodies • Some individuals are able to withstand such events and stresses better than others- they show developmental stability • Women are hypothesized to have evolved a preference for men who show physical evidence of symmetry • By selecting a man with symmetrical features, a woman may be in essence selecting a superior complement of genes to be transmitted to her children • Facially symmetric individuals score higher on tests of physiological, psychological, and emotional health • There is a small but positive relationship between facial symmetry and judgments of physical attractiveness in both sexes • Facially symmetrical men are judged to be more sexually attractive, have more sexual partners during the lifetimes, and begin sexual intercourse earlier in life • They also experience fewer respiratory illnesses, suggesting better disease resistance • Some researchers question the quality of these studies however • Another health cue: masculine features • Men have longer and broader lower jaws, stronger brow ridges, and more pronounced cheekbones because of hormones such a
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