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Chapter 11

CHAPTER 11 NOTES - Evolutionary Psych

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PSYC 3420
Irwin Silverman

CHAPTER 11: CONFLICT WITHIN THE SEXES INTRODUCTION • sexual conflict may be defined as a “conflict between the evolutionary interests of individuals of the two sexes” • “evolutionary interests” boil down to “genetic interests” • the most poignant forms of sexual conflict centre on mating conflict STRATEGIC INFERENCE THEORY • members of the same sex are often in competition with each other for precisely the same resources: members of the opposite sex and the resources needed to attract them • many sources of conflicts between the sexes can be traced to evolved differences in sexual strategies • men more than women have evolved a deeper desire for sexual variety (short term mating) • this desire manifests itself in many forms including seeking sexual access sooner, more persistently, and more aggressively • women have evolved to be more discriminatory in short term mating • the sexes cannot simultaneously fulfil these conflicting sexual desires which is an example of a phenomenon called strategic inference • strategic inference ours when a person employs a particular strategy to achieve a goal and another person blocs the successful enhancement of that strategy • men and women come into conflict not because they are competing for the same resources but because the strategy of one sex can interfere with the strategy of the other • sexual harassment is a form of strategic interference in the workplace • deception on the dating scene is another e.g. A man who lies about his marital status and a woman about her age • within marriage, cheating represents another form of strategic inference • strategic inference- blocking the strategies and violating the desires of someone else • second component of this inference is the “negative” emotions such as anger that have evolved in part to solve the adaptive problems • although these negative emotions are painful, they are functional in solving the adaptive problems of strategic interference 1. they point out problematic events, focusing our attention on them 2. the emotions mark those events for storage in memory and easy retrieval from memory 3. emotions lead to action, causing people to eliminate the source of strategic inference • conflict serves no adaptive purpose put it is an undesirable by-product of the fact that the sexual strategies of men and women differences” EVOLUTION CHAPTER 11 page 1 • “battle between the sexes” is misleading • men cannot be united with all other men because they are in competition with them • the same is true for women • CONFLICT ABOUT THE OCCURRENCE AND TIMING OF SEX • might be the most common source of conflict between the sexes • men are “resource coy” and preserve their investment for long-term mates • most women pursue a long term sexual strategy which means they seek to obtain investment before consenting to sex • the investment that women covet is the investment the men guard • the sexual access that men seek is the resource women are so selective about giving Conflict over Sexual Access Inferences about Sexual Intent • men sometimes infer sexual interest on the part of a woman when it does not exist: the sexual over perception bias • women watching the interaction were likely to say she was trying to be friendly and not sexy • men were more likely than women to infer seductive • men interpret simple friendliness and smiling by women as indicating more sexual interest than women viewing the exact same events • this male mechanism is susceptible to manipulation because women sometimes use their sexuality as one such tactic • in a study more women than men reported using smiling and flirting as a means to get special treatment from men even when they had no intention of having sex with them • the differing sexual strategies of men and women lead to conflicts over desired levels of sexual intimacy, over men's feelings that women lead them on, and over women's feelings that men are too pushy about having sex Deception about Commitment • men report intentionally deceiving women about emotional commitment • the costs of being deceived about a potential mate's resources and commitment are shouldered more heavily by women • an ancestral man who made a poor choice of a sex partner risked only a small portion of his time and energy • women with a bad choice risked pregnancy and unaided child rearing • there must have been tremendous selection pressure to detect cues to deception and to prevent its occurrence • women have evolved strategies to guard against deception EVOLUTION CHAPTER 11 page 2 • when a women seeks a committed relationship, the first line of defence is imposing costs by requiring extended time, energy, and commitment before consenting to sex • more time buys the advantage of more assessment • it allows a woman greater opportunity to evaluate a manipulation • to guard against deception, women spend hours discussing with their friends the details of interactions they have had with mates or potential mates Cognitive Biases in Sexual Mind Reading • we are forced to make inferences about intentions and concealed deeds • you can infer a psychological state that is not there, such as assuming sexual interest when it is absent • or you can fail to infer a state that is there • error management theory: it would be exceedingly unlikely that the cost-benefit consequences of the two types of errors would be identical across their many occurrences • according to error management theory, asymmetries in the cost-benefit consequences of mind-reading inferences, if they recur over evolutionary time, create selection pressures that produce predictable cognitive biases Two mind-reading biases have been explored in mating: 1. the sexual over perception bias whereby men possess mind-reading biases designed to minimize the cost of missed sexual opportunities • men who view themselves as high in mate value are prone to experience the sexual over-perception bias • men who are inclined to pursue a short-term mating strategy exhibit more sexual over-perception bias, which facilitates the success of a short-term mating strategy by minimizing lost opportunities 2. commitment scepticism bias in women says that women have evolved an inferential bias designed to underestimate men's actual level of romantic commitment to her early in courtship • functions to minimize the costs of being sexual deceived by men • for example the recipients tend to underestimate the extent to which flowers or gifts signal commitment Sexual Withholding • women withhold sex to choose men of high quality who are willing to commit emotionally and materially • women increase its value • scarcity increases the price that men are willing to pay for it • sexual withholding manipulates men's perception of a woman's value as a mate- retention • sexual withholding encourages a man to evaluate a woman as a permanent rather than a temporary mate-retention EVOLUTION CHAPTER 11 page 3 SEXUALAGGRESSION AND EVOLVED DEFENSES AGAINST SEXUAL AGGRESSION Sexual Harassment • sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual attention in the workplace • victims of sexual harassment are usually women • it is likely that women would be more upset than men by the same acts of sexual harassment • victims of harassment concentrated among young, physically attractive, single women • women over 40 are far less likely to experience harassment • men said they would feel flattered if a women at work asked them to have sex and women said they would be insulted which support the strategic inference theory • women find acts of harassment most harassing from a low status man who has power over them • the emotions in the sexually harassed that signal strategic inference on the part of the harasser apparently are sensitive to his low status Sexual Aggressiveness • sexual aggressiveness is a strategy men use to minimize the costs they incur for sexual access • in one study women found sexual aggression to be the most upsetting thing a man an do • women do not want forced sex • men seem less bothered if a women is sexually aggressive, or even slightly arousing • the women heating or verbal and physical abuse were more upsetting to the men • men underestimate how unacceptable sexual aggression is to women and ratted it only a 5.8 on a seven-point scale even though women's rating was 6.5 Do Men Have Evolved Rape Adaptations? • Rape-as-adaptation theory proposes that selection has favoured ancestral males who raped in certain circumstances • at least six specialized adaptations might have evolved in the male mind 1. assessment of the vulnerability of potential rape victims e..g. Woman who lacks protection of husband 2. a switch that motivates rape in men who cannot obtain mates through regular channels of courtship 3. a preference for fertile rape victims 4. an increase in sperm counts of rape ejaculates compared with those in consensual sex 5. sexual arousal to the use of force or to female resistance EVOLUTION CHAPTER 11 page 4 6. marital rape in circumstances in which sperm competition might exists for example when there is evidence or suspicion of the female cheating • by-product theory of rape proposes that rape is a non-designed and non- selected-for by-product of other evolved mechanisms, such as the male desire for sexual variety, a desire for sex without investment, a psychological sensitivity to sexual opportunities, and the general rapacity to use physical aggression to achieve a variety of goals Individual Differences in Rape Proclivity • in a study the men were asked to imagine that if they raped a women and there was no chance of being discovered, would they do it? • 35% indicated a nonzero likelihood of rape although in most cases the likelihood was slight Sexual Coercion as Part of a Life-History Strategy of Some Men • for a small subset of men, rape may be a part of life-history strategy marked by high levels of psychopathy, pursuit of a short-term rather than long-term mating strategy, lack of empathy, and hostile masculinity • a majority of rapists show high levels of sexual arousal in the lab • many rapists have a distinct life strategy- early onset of sexual activity, many sexual experiences, and tend to commit to nonsexual crime such as robbery and assault The Mate Deprivation Hypothesis • men who have experienced deprivation of sexual access to women will be more likely to use sexually aggressive tactics • the results contradicted the predictions the authors derived from the mate deprivation hypothesis of sexual aggression • men who scored high of self-perceived mating success also tended to score high on the measures of sexual aggression • men who evaluated their future earning potential as high tended to use more physical coercion • the results fail to support the mate deprivation hypothesis Partner Rapists • 10-26% of women experience rape from their husbands • according to one hypothesis, this form of rape represents an adaptation to sperm competition-men whose wives have been sexually unfaithful or who they think are cheating on them force sex in order to combat the sperm from competing males • not all men who think their wives are being unfaithful resort to sexual coercion • one study found that partner rapists score high on psychopathy, supporting the life-history strategy theory of individual differences in rape proclivity EVOLUTION CHAPTER 11 page 5 • another study showed that only men who perceive themselves as equal or higher in mate value than their partner and perceive cheating resort to sexually coercive tactics • although the sperm competition hypothesis of partner rape receive some empirical support, it must be qualified by individual differences in life-history strategy (psychopathy) and relative mate value • psychopaths, who tend to pursue an exploitative life-history strategy seem especially prone to sexual coercion, both with partners and non-partners whom they suspect might be sexually unfaithful Do women have evolved anti-rape adaptations? • Rape is abhorrent and often inflicts heavy costs on the victim • the costs of rape begin with the interference with women's mate choice, an essential part of women's sexual strategies • victims of rape risk being blamed or punished, resulting in damage to their reputations and their future desirability on the mating market • they may fear being abandoned from their regular mates • if rape has occurred in history, it would be astonishing if selection had not favour
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