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Chapter 5

CHAPTER 5 NOTES - Evolutionary Psych

16 Pages
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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3420
Professor
Irwin Silverman

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CHAPTER 5: Men’s Long-Term Mating Strategies THEORTETICAL BACKGROUND FOR THE EVOLUTION OF MEN’S MATE PREFERENCES • Why would men marry at all-what benefits did ancestral men gain from marriage? • How did selection fashion specific mate preferences in men Why Men Might Benefit from Commitment & Marriage • INCREASED ODDS OF SUCCEEDING IN ATTRACTING A MATE Because it is clear that many ancestral women required reliable signs of male commitment before consenting to sex, men who failed to commit might have failed to attract any women at all • INCREASED ABILITY TO ATTRACT A MORE DESIRABLE MATE Another benefit of marriage is an increase in the quality of the woman a man would be able to attract, so men who are willing to commit to the long term have a wider range of women from which to choose 1. INCREASE PATERNITY CERTAINITY • A third benefit is an increase in the odds that the man is the father of the women’s children, through marriage a man gains repeated sexual access and in the majority of cases, exclusive sexual access • therefore men who marry gain the reproductive benefit of an increase in paternity certainty • INCREASED SURVVIVAL OF HIS CHILDREN • in human ancestral environments, it is likely that infants and young children most frequently died without the prolonged investment from two parents 5) INCREASED REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS OF CHILDREN ACCRUED THROUGH PARENTAL INVESTMENT • also would have suffered from the absence of his teaching • these assets help to solve mating problems later in life • fathers in many cultures past and present have had a strong hand in arranging beneficial marriages for their sons and daughters • INCREASED SOCIAL STATUS • in many cultures, males are not considered to have achieved true manhood until they have married • ADDED COALITIONALALLIES • increased status has a lot of benefits including better resources for his children and additional mates, ad gains access to coalitional allies through his wife’s family, which provide additional reproductively relevant benefits The Problem of Assessing a Woman’s Fertility or Reproductive Value • Men cannot observe a women’s reproductive value directly, so selection could only have fashioned preferences in men for qualities that are correlated with reproductive value • When the female chimpanzee is capable of conceiving, she goes into a phase called estrus- the time where she releases her eggs and shows maximal sexual receptivity • The receptivity of estrus is advertised by bright red swollen genitals and scents that are highly attractive to chimpanzee males • Most of the sexual activity among the chimpanzees takes place during the estrus phase, when the female is most likely to conceive • When a women releases her eggs for potential fertilization, it is not accompanies by genital swelling • Sexual activity among most humans occurs throughout the woman’s ovulation cycle, not generally concentrated during the phase in which the female is most likely to conceive (like the chimpanzees) • When ovulation is not advertised, how could males discern a female’s reproductive status? • This is why men detect which women are likely to be capable of conceiving children • Reproductive value refers to the number of children a person of a given age and sex is likely to have in the future • Younger women are more likely to bear more children in the future • Reproductive value refers to the average expected future reproduction of a person of a given age and sex • Fertility is defined as actual reproductive performance, measured by the number of viable offspring produced • Women in their mid-twenties tend to produce the most viable children, and so fertility among humans reaches a peak in the mid-twenties • If we have two females, ages 15 and 25 the younger female has a higher reproductive value because her future reproductive is expected to the higher but the 25 year old would be more fertile because women in their mid-twenties produce more children, on average, than do woman in their teens • Even women themselves lack direct knowledge of their reproductive value • Ancestral men could have evolved adaptations sensitive to observable qualities of a woman that are correlated with underling reproductive value: two of those are a woman’s youth and her health THE CONTENT OF MEN’S MATE PREFERENCES • Men express a desire for partners who are intelligent, kind, understanding, healthy • Men loo for partners that are similar to them in attitudes, personalities, and religious beliefs Preference for Youth • A woman’s reproductive value declines steadily as she moves past age twenty • “moko dude” when referring to fruit means that the fruit is perfectly ripe, and when referring to a woman, it means that she is post pubescent but has not yet born her first child • On average men from the 37 cultures expressed a desire for wives approximately 2 and a half years younger than themselves • Both male and female judges exhibited a larger number of eye fixations and longer dwell time when viewing female faces perceived to be younger • Although men universally prefer younger women as wives, the strength of this preference varies from culture to culture • Because men in polygamous cultures are typically older than men in monogamous systems, by the time they have acquired enough resources to attract wives, the larger age difference preferred by Nigerian and Zambian men may reflect their advanced age when they acquire wives • A man’s age has a strong effect on what he desires • As men get older, the prefer as mates women who are increasingly younger • Men in their thirties prefer women who are roughly five years younger, whereas men in their fifties prefer women who are ten to twenty years younger • One evolutionary model predicts that what men desire is not youth per se but rather features of women that are associated with reproductive value or fertility • This perspective leads to another prediction when it comes to the age preferences of adolescent males: teenage males should prefer women who are slightly older, because slightly older women have higher fertility than women their own age/younger • In a study, males were asked their ideal age for a woman, minimum age, and maximum age • Although they were willing to accept dates with females who were slightly younger, they were far more willing to accept dates with older women • The most attractive age was several years older on average • This finding occurs despite the fact that these older women expressed little interest in dating younger men • At the youngest ages, teenage males prefer females a few years older than themselves, but with advancing age, men prefer women who are increasingly younger than they are • These data concerning teenagers are important in rendering several alternative explanations less plausible • One explanation for men’s desire for young women is that young women are easier to control and are less dominant. If this was the sole reason for men’s preference for young women, then we would expect that teenage males would also prefer younger women, but they don’t. • Another explanation is based on the learning theory. Because women tend to prefer men who are somewhat older, men may have received more reward or reinforcement for seeking dates with younger women. This reinforcement explanation fails to account for the preferences of the teenage males, who prefer older women despite the fact that the interest is rarely mutual • Evolutionary psychological explanation: men desire young women because over evolutionary time, youth has consistently been linked with fertility • The explanation accounts for two facts that all other theories have difficulty explaining • Men desire women who are increasingly younger than they are as the men themselves get older • Teenage males prefer women a few years older than they are despite the fact that such women rarely reward them for such interest • There is something that still remains unexplained by the evolutionary hypothesis • Although men prefer women who are increasingly younger than they are as long- term mates as they get older, the actual age preference of older men is beyond maximum fertility • Men who are 50 for example, prefer men who are in their mid-thirties (in sharp contrast to men’s age preferences for a short-term mate, which remain at the age of peak fertility) There are a few possible explanations: • Older men may have difficulty in ACTUALLY attracting dramatically younger women, and their preferences may reflect a compromise between their ideal and what they can get • Large age discrepancies may create less compatibility, greater martial conflict, and more martial instability • The mate homicide rate rises as a function of the magnitude of the age discrepancy between partners • Modern marriage likely differs from ancestral marriage. In modern marriage couples spend a great deal of time together and act as companions. Ancestral marriages were more likely to involve sharp division of labour, with women spending a lot of their time with children and other women and men hunting and socializing with other men. Thus the importance of similarity and compatibility for functioning in modern marriages may have created a shift in men’s age preferences above the point of maximum female fertility. Evolved Standards of Physical Beauty • Our ancestors had access to two types of observable evidence of a woman’s reproductive value: • Features of physical appearance • Full lips, clear skin, smooth skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, good muscle tone, body fat distribution • Features of behaviour • Bouncy youthful gait, animated facial expression, high energy level • Filthiness universally undesirable • Sores, ulcers, and skin eruptions are repulsive • The essential conditions for beauty are strong growth of hair, smooth skin, well- shaped lips • Younger women had longer hair of higher-rated quality than did older women • Observer’s judgments of women’s hair quality were positively correlated with women’s subjective judgments of their own health • Clear unblemished skin signals an absence of parasite, absence of skin- damaging diseases during development, and possibly “good genes” to withstand disease and heal without infection • Skin quality is indeed linked with perceived facial attractiveness • Female faces that don’t have splotchy skin receive higher attractiveness ratings and are perceived to be younger • More skin blood colour in female faces enhances the perception of healthiness, which is why women use red makeup, since it enhances perceptions of health and vitality • Facial femininity is another cue to attractiveness • This includes cues such as full lips, large eyes, thinner jaws, relatively large eyes, small chin, high cheekbones, and a relatively short distance between mouth and jaw • As women age, their facial features become less feminine • Facial femininity is linked with higher levels of estrogen, the ovarian hormone that correlates with fertility • Facial femininity is one of the most powerful cues to women’s attractiveness • Feminine voices are also found to be more attractive in women • Facial symmetry is a cue to developmental stability, a hypothesized sign of “good genes” and the capacity to withstand environmental insult • They are judged to be healthier than less symmetrical faces, although the link is weather than that of facial femininity • Facial averageness is another quality linked with attractiveness • Two competing theories have been advanced to explain why average faces are attractive • People show a generalized cognitive preference for things that are easily processed, and stimuli that match an average prototype may be easier to process • People do indeed find averaged images of fish, birds, and even cars more attractive than individual fish, birds, or cars • Averageness may be a marker of genetic or phenotypic quality • Deviations from averageness may be cause to environmental insults such as disease or genetic mutations • Leg length especially long legs relative to torso length has been hypothesized to be a cue o health and biomechanical efficiency • Legs roughly 5 percent longer than average are viewed maximally attractive in women • Other studies confirm that both sexes view relatively longer legs are more attractive in women • This is why some women wear high-heels • A study of 10,000 Chinese found that women with longer legs had more offspring, an association especially strong in women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds Standards of Beauty Emerge Early in Life • Most traditional psychological theories of attractive have assumed that standards of attractiveness are learned gradually through cultural transmission • Two studies have showed evidence opposite to this theory • In the first one, infants were shown faces that differed in degree of attractiveness • The infants stared longer at the more attractive faces • They also found that 12 month old infants played longer with attractive dolls Standards of Beauty are Consistent across Cultures • The constituents of beauty are neither arbitrary nor culture bond • When asking people of different races to judge the attractiveness of Asian, Hispanic, Black, and White women he found tremendous consensus about who is and who is not considered good looking • Degree of exposure to western media did not affect the judgments of attractiveness Beauty and the Brain • Evolutionary psychologists are beginning to use neuroscience technology to identify the links between psychological mechanism and specific brain circuits • They exposed heterosexual male participants to 4 sets of faces differing in attractiveness • When men looked at attractive female faces, the nucleus accumbens area of the brain became especially activated • The nucleus accumbens is known to be fundamental reward circuitry- pleasure center of the brain • This reward circuit of the brain fails to be activated when men look at typical female faces or any of the male faces • Beautiful female faces are especially rewarding to men, psychologically and neurologically Body Ft, Waist to Hip Ratio, and Body Mass Index • The most culturally variable standard of beauty seems to be in the preference for a slim vs. a plump body build, and it is linked with the social status that build conveys • In cultures where food is scarce, plumpness signals wealth, health, and adequate nutrition during development • In places where food shortages are common, men prefer women who are heavier and possess more body fat • Men prefer heavier women when there are economic hard times, when they are hungry, and when they are poor • In the US and many western European countries, the wealthy are thin • Although body-weight preference varies across cultures and time, it does so in predictable weights, suggesting context dependent adaptations • Men and women viewed nine female figures that varied from very thick to plump • When the women were asked what men’s ideal female figure was, women selected a figure that was slimmer than average • When men were asked to select which female they preferred, they selected the average body size • Women therefore think that men want them to be thinner than is in fact the case • One psychologist has discovered one preference for body shape that may be universal: the preference for a particular ratio between the size of a woman’s waist and the size of her hips • Before puberty, boys and girls show similar fat distributions • At puberty, men lose fat from their buttocks and thighs whereas the release of estrogen in girls causes them to deposit fat in the lower drunk, primarily on their hips and upper thighs • The volume of body at in this region is 40% greater for women than for men • The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is thus similar for the sexes before puberty • After puberty, women’s hip fat deposits cause their WHRs to become significantly lower than men’s • Abundant evidence now shows that the WHR is an accurate indicator of women’s reproductive status • Women with lower ratios show earlier pubertal endocrine activity • Married women with higher ratios have more difficulty becoming pregnant • The WHR is also an accurate indication of long-term health status • Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and gallbladder disorders have been shown to be linked with the distribution of fat, as reflected by the ratio, rather than with the total amount of fat per se • One study found that women with a low WHR (small waist and relatively large breasts) had 26% higher levels of the ovarian hormone oestradiol which is a good predictor of fertility and pregnancy success • The link between WHR and both health and reproductive status makes it a reliable cue for ancestral men’s preferences in a mate • WHR is indeed a powerful part of women’s attractiveness • Men rated the attractiveness of female figures that varied in both WHR and total amount of fat • Again, men found the average figure to be more attractive than either a thin or a fat figure • Regardless of the total amount of fat, however, men find women with low WHRs the most attractive • Women with a WHR of .70 are seen as more attractive than .80 or .90 • A cross-cultural study of female “escorts” advertised online fond that the average values were around .70 respectively • Men who were blind from birth, when assessing female body shape through touch, prefer the low WHR mannequin models, suggesting that the preference for low WHR can develop with the total absence of visual input • An eye-tracking study discovered that initial visual fixations occurred most often for female waists and breasts, and that men rated women with a low WHR as most attractive, regardless of breast size • Two studies have failed to replicate this effect: one in Peru and one among the Hadza in Tanzania • Among the Hadza, men were found to prefer somewhat heavier women with a higher WHR • It is becoming increasingly clear that WHR assessment is more complex than an “invariant preference” for a specific WHR such as .70 • The normal range of women’s WHR is higher in foraging societies than in Western populations, and the average WHR of the most fertile females is higher in foraging societies • Thus, when stimuli are used that more accurately characterize the local cultural range of WHR, men tend to find attractive a WHR that is lower than the local average • “these results imply that there is a less disparity between American and Hadza preferences for the actual WHR of real women” • Men who tend to peruse a short-term sexual strategy have a stronger preference for low WHR than men pursuing a long-term mating strategy • They are also more likely to approach women with a lower WHR when pursuing a short-term mating strategy • It is plausible that men with higher “mate value” may be initiating contact with the most attractive women • WHR is an important bodily cue to female attractiveness and known to be linked to female fertility • Preferences for specific WHR values vary predictably with the actual values of WHR in the local culture and also with sexual strategy pursued • Another hypothesized cue to female body attractiveness is body mass index (BMI): a measure of overall body fat as calculated from a person’s weight and height • BMI and WHR are positively correlated, as WHR increased, so does BMI • One study found that BMI was a better predictor of attractiveness judgments than WHR, and that statistically controlling for BMI, WHR did not predict attractiveness judgments • Future research is needed to resolve the controversy over the relative contributions of WHR, BMI, and waist circumference to judgments of women’s body shape attractiveness Sex Differences in the Importance of Physical Appearance • In all cases, men rated physical attractiveness and good looks as more important and desirable in a potential mate than did women th • The importance of attractiveness has increased dramatically in the US in the 20 century • These changes point to the importanc
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