Evolutionary Psychology Lecture Notes
Cp. 5, Men's Long-Term mating Strategies
I. Theoretical background for the evolution of men's mate preferences
A. Why commit to one female? Given that males are capable of fertilizing large
numbers of females at very little cost to themselves, why should men make a
commitment that would restrict their freedom to do so?
1. Greatly improved survival chances for offspring.
2. Failure to commit might seriously limit access to females in general.
3. Willingness to commit might improve access to high-quality females.
4. Monogamy increases parental certainty. Perhaps 5-10% of all children in
western societies are being raised by men who falsely believe the children to be
theirs – an extremely bad outcome from an evolutionary perspective!
5. Improved marriage and social position prospects for offspring.
B. Assessing the fertility of prospective mates. Given a commitment to one or at least a
small number of females, which one(s) to commit to? Clearly, one should invest in
the most fertile female available. Fertility is actual reproductive performance.
Reproductive value is total potential number of future offspring at any point in
1. Females (Mother Nature) have complicated the male's problem by the evolved
mechanism of cryptic ovulation/estrus (keeps the guys on their toes at all
2. Given cryptic ovulation/estrus, males have to look for signs of reproductive
value and fertility. Preferences for certain signs constitute EPMs.
II. Specific EPMs related to long-term mate selection.
A. Preference for youth. (Miss Bremen!)
B. Preference for health – physical "beauty" (symmetry, smooth skin, long hair, etc.)
C. Preference for body fat and waist-to-hip ratio.
D. Sex differences in the importance of physical attractiveness.
E. Detecting ovulation/estrus in women.
F. Solutions to the problem of parental uncertainty. Preferentially marry a female who
gives lots of cues that she will be faithful to you.
1. Require virginity before expressing interest. Hymen reconstruction surgery
extremely popular (even essential) in mid eastern and far eastern cultures.
2. Gather information about her past history by swapping stories with your pals.
3. Test her resolve by trying to seduce her. If she gives in, she's a bad bet for
marriage, but a good bet for short-term mating (the old whore-goddess
III. Context effects on man's mating behavior.
A. The male's level of status, power, and wealth. Well, duh!
B. Unnatural beauty anchor effects in the modern world.
IV. Men's preferences and actual mating behavior.
A. Men's responses to women's personal ads.
B. Age preferences and marriage. Brides are increasingly younger in age than groom
for 2nd, 3rd, etc. marriages. The social cost of serial monogamy.
C. Women cater to men's EPMs in attempting to attract a mate – diet, clothes, makeup,
intrasex derogation, etc.