Discuss the relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour AO1 outline of the relationships
AO2/AO3 commentary including IDA
In evolutionary terms natural selection is the process by which certain characteristics and behaviours get passed on in the gene pool because they give the individual a better chance of surviving and reproducing. Sexual selection is the process within natural selection where by any characteristic or behaviour that increases the reproductive success of an individual are selected and these characteristics may get exaggerated over evolutionary time. Because of the differences in parental investment between males and females, evolutionary psychologists suggest this has created gender specific reproductive behaviour – that is in terms of mating preferences and strategies, and in terms of mating systems (to remain monogamous or is promiscuity best?) Because females have to invest a lot of time in having and bringing up offspring, and because the number of offspring they can have in a life time is limited, Darwin suggests this has lead to females being choosy about who they “mate” and settle down with. Females will be looking for good genetic qualities in a male and qualities that indicate that he could provide for her and their offspring. This in turn has created competition between males. They have to convince females they would be the best to mate with. Males will also be concerned with looking for females with qualities that suggest fertility (youth and good health – synonymous with physical attractiveness.
Sexual selection may also lead to differences in mating systems. A female may be best in a monogamous relationship which will ensure the male stays and provides for the family. However for a male a polygamy may be better where he mates with as many females as possible thus ensuring quantity in offspring increasing the likelihood of some of them surviving.
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