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06 Sexual selection - traditionally, erotica has been written for men; the
assumption has been that women are not interested in such
GENDER DIFFERENCES IN RECEPTIVITY TO SEXUAL - Kinsey(1953): 47% of men reported having been
OFFERS (Clark & Hatfield, ) aroused by erotic stories; only 14% of women reported
similar levels of arousal
- according to cultural stereotypes, men are more eager - recent studies: although they report different levels
for sex than women; women are more likely to set limits of interest, objective difference suggests that both are
on such activity equally aroused
- three questions: - Jakobovits (1965) found that women consistently
o Would you go out tonight? rated hard core erotic stories as more interesting and
o Will you come over to my apartment? sexually stimulating tha men did
o Would you go to bed with me?
- the great majority of men were willing to have a sexual Gender differences in responsiveness to erotic films
liaison with the women who approached them; women - men are more likely to sign up for an experiment
were not involving erotica
- both are identically aroused
The Sociobiological perspective - both women and men were most sexually aroused
Symons, 1979: according to evolutionary biology, animals by seeing a person of the opposite sex masturbating or
inherit those characteristics which insure that they will having intercourse; they were least aroused by seeing
transmit as many of their genes to the next generation as someone of their own sex engaged in these same activities
possible to both mens and womens advantage to
produce as many surviving children as possible Gender differences in sexual activity
- humans have only moderate sex differences in structure, - traditionally, theorists have assumed that sex is far more
but profound sex differences in psyche; among the important for men than for women
differences: Kinsey(1948, 1953) tried to asses the sexual activity of men
o men desire a variety of sex partners; women do not compared with women throughout their lives; they asked
o for men, sexual attractiveness equals youth; for how often they have an orgasm during a typical week; they
women, it equals political and economic power found that
o men have every reason to actively pursue women o men did seem to engage in more sexual activity
(they are genetically programmed to impregnate as many than women
women as possible; women have every reason to be coy); o men and women had strikingly different sexual
it takes time to decide if a man is a good genetic risk (is likely histories: men are sexually active starting at 15; women
to be nurturant, protective and productive); in all societies, begin to be more sexually active between the ages of 16 and
women copulate as a service to men, not vice versa 20;
- once the couple begins to have sexual relations, the
Kurt Freund (1983, 1986) observed that courtship normally man has more to say about the type and frequency of sexual
consists of 4 phases: activity
o initial appraisal and location of a potential partner - by the 1980s, the differences between sexual
o pretactile interaction (ex: smiling at someone, activity in men and women has disappeared; the double
laughing, flirting, talking) standard turned into a single standard
o tactile interaction (touching, embracing)
o bringing about genital union How receptive are men versus women to sexual invitations?
- a woman initiates interaction, but men initiate first - traditional hypothesis: women wanting love, men
sexual intercourse; afterwards, women are freer to share wanting sex from a relationship
initiation - androgyny hypothesis: it may be that both men and
women turn out to be more receptive to sexual
The cultural-contingency perspective invitations than one might expect
- at the other end of the spectrum are those who both men and women might be reserved about sexual
argue that sexual behaviour is learned (as culture expects it intercourse; men do not want an easy to get woman
to be) - in both studies, men and women responded as
- cultural rewards and punishments shape behaviour: traditionalist would expect them to: men readily
if men are more adventurous than women, it is simply accepted a sexual invitation; women were extremely
because the culture encourages them to be so reluctant to do so
- feminist and Marxist scholars were speculating that
the socio-political pressure might have at least some impact Type of request
on sexual behaviour Sex of requester Date Home Bed
Male 50% 0% 0%
Gender differences in interest in erotic literature and tapes Female 50% 69% 69%

INFECTIONS MEN AND WOMEN (Thornhill, Gangestad et al.)

- experiment: released mice into large population - scent of developmental stability (low fluctuating
enclosures and challenged them with multiple strains of asymmetry) is attractive to women who are fertile, but not
Salmonella and one of Listeria to other women or men
- MHC heterozygotes had greater survival and weight - the scent of dissimilarity in major histocompatibility
than homozygotes (unlike sham controls) and they were complex (MHC) genes may play a role in human mate choice
more likely to clear chronic infection than homozygotes - men, but not women, showed a preference for t-
- the benefits of heterozygosity were due to shirts with the scent of MHC dissimilarity
resistance being dominant rather than overdominant - womens scent rating was positively correlated with
(heterozygotes were more resistant than the average of the wearers MHC heterozygosity
parental homozygotes, but they were not more resistant - fertile women did not exhibit any MHC trait
than both) preferences; womens preference for the scent of men who
MHC-disassortative mating preference were heterozygous for MHC alleles might be stronger in
women who are at infertile cycle points
- heterozygosity at MHC loci may enhance resistance - men preferred the scent of common MHC alleles,
to infectious diseases by increasing the diversity of antigens which may function to avoid mates with rare alleles that
presented to T cells and by generating a diverse T cell exhibit gestational drive; also preferred the scent of women
repertoire at fertile cycle points
- one study found that heterozygotes mice had higher - neither FA, nor facial attractiveness in either sex
T cell response to a viral infection than homozygotes, and yet correlated with MHC dissimilarity to others, MHC
heterozygotes were least likely to survive the infection heterozygosity or MHC allelic rarity
- usually, when heterozygotes show an advantage in - host-pathogen coevolution is now generally thought
population studies, it is generally interpreted as to explain much of MHC genetic polymorphism because of
heterozygote superiority or overdominance (i.e., MHCs function in pathogen detection
heterozygotes are assumed to have higher fitness than both - MHC genes influence body odour and mate choice
parental homozygotes). Yet, heterozygotes may have a on body odour attractiveness
selective advantage over homozygotes on average if - mouse studies suggest a preference for the scent of
resistance is merely dominant (i.e., if heterozygotes inherit MHC dissimilarity
the resistance of the most resistant parental homozygote); - explanations for MHC dissimilarity scent preference:
and resistance is generally dominant, at least in tests with o inbreeding avoidance
single pathogens o parasite-mediated sexual-selection theory
- weight provided an index for the health of males - mate choosers should choose the infrequent
(whereas the weight of females fluctuated mainly from individuals who are dissimilar to confer more resistance to
pregnancy) the offspring
- in the infected populations, females had lower - a prediction related to the the diverse-genes
survival rates hypothesis is that individuals should avoid mating with MHC
- in the infected populations, MHC heterozygotes
homozygotes. Homozygotes have offspring who vary less
were twice as likely to become pregnant and had more
from each other and the mate, which increases the risk of a
pregnancies than homozygotes (not significant, however)
- MHC genotype had a significant effect on pathogen within-family disease epidemic
load for the secondary, but not primary infections - in both sexes, low FA appears to be associated with
- MHC heterozygotes had significantly lower bacterial increased genetic, physical and mental health (including
loads than homozygotes in the multiple-strain, but not in the cognitive skills and IQ)
single-strain infections - symmetric men are more muscular, vigorous and
- Heterozygotes showed a survival advantage in our socially dominant, have lower basal metabolic rate and may
control populations during the final weeks of the be larger in body size than asymmetric men
experiment, which may have been due to enhancing - the scent of symmetric men is attractive to women
resistance to various uncontrolled pathogens who are cycling normally (not using hormone-based
contraception) and are in the fertile phases of their
menstrual cycles
- men prefer the scent of women who are in the
fertile phase of their cycle, suggesting yet another
pheromone-based system of preferences in humans
- women who use contraceptive pills prefer the scent
of individuals with similar MHC
- characters measured: ear length, ear width, elbow
width, wrist width, ankle width, foot breadth, lengths of all
fingers, except the thumb

- the scent of men who had been sick tended to be HUMAN FEMALE ORGASM AND MATE
less attractive than other mens scent; sick women did not FLUCTUATING ASYMMETRY
smell less attractive
- women who have longer cycles, on average, ovulate - human female orgasm is not necessary for
later in the cycle than women who have shorter cycles conception; hence, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that
- womens probability of conception across the cycle orgasm is an adaptation for manipulating the outcome of
had a near-zero correlation with their preference for MHC sperm competition resulting from facultative polyandry
dissimilarity - if heritable differences in male viability existed in
- sex did not interact with heterozygosity to predict the evolutionary past, selection could have favoured female
scent attractiveness adaptations (orgasm) that biased sperm competition in
- mens scent attractiveness was not associated with favour of males possessing heritable fitness indicators
the commonness of their alleles - possible hypothesis for the orgasm evolution:
- womens facial attractiveness predict their scent o orgasm has been claimed to create and
attractiveness maintain the pair bond between male and female by
- womens estimated probability of conception at the promoting female intimacy through sexual pleasure
time of wearing the t-shirt was correlated with their mean o a number of evolutionists have suggested
scent attractiveness that it works in selective bonding by promoting affiliation
- older men particularly preferred the scent of primarily with males who are willing to invest time or
symmetrical women resources in the female and/ or males of genotypic quality
- older and more facially attractive men particularly o motivates female to pursue multiple males
preferred the scent of women near ovulation to prevent male infanticide of the females offspring and/or
- mens preference for the scent of symmetrical to gain material benefits from multiple males
women was negatively associated with their preference for o functions to induce fatigue, sleep and a
MHC heterozygotic women prone position, and thereby passively acts to retain sperm;
- Our results address four adaptive hypotheses that o the upsuck hypothesis: orgasm actively
have been proposed for scent-based, MHC disassortative retains sperm by sucking sperm into the uterus
mate preferences: outbreeding, produc- tion of MHC- - orgasm occurring near the time (or up to 45 minutes
heterozygous offspring or of offspring with rare MHC alleles, after) of male ejaculation results in greater sperm retention
and increased within-brood MHC diversity - some theorists claim that female orgasm is an
- women with zero conception risk exhibited a incidental by-product of male orgasm, which is an adaptation
significant preference for the scent of symmetry - female orgasm is not necessary for conception;
- Manning et al. have shown a positive correlation hence, its function could not have arisen simply to ensure
between ejaculate size, sperm quality and body symmetry in conception
men - a woman might have evolved to have sex with
multiple males because she gains resources from one and
- We found no evidence that either sex prefers scents
uses better genes from the other; she needs a way of
associated with rare MHC alleles. Indeed, men in our study selecting the desired sperm
preferred scents associated with common MHC alleles. No - sexual selection favours preferences in mates who
association between womens conception risk and posses honest indicator of pathogen resistance
preference for the scent of rare MHC alleles was detected. A - a marker of male mating advantage in a variety of
rare-allele preference is predicted from the hypothesis that species might be fluctuating asymmetry (bilateral
MHC-dependent mating preferences function to generate characters); because their developments is controlled by a
single gene, asymmetrical development can be an indicator
offspring that have reduced autoimmune problems
of developmental instability (pathogens)
(associated with common MHC alleles) or that cannot be - in a range of species, individuals fluctuating
invaded by parasites as a result of possessing alleles to which asymmetry negatively predicts their fecundity, growth rate,
parasites are not well adapted. survival
- men exhibit significant scent preferences for in order for female orgasm to be correlated with mate
women who are at high conception risk in the menstrual fluctuating asymmetry, it should occur in the estimated
cycle time, more often with symmetrical mates

- women with men who possessed lower fluctuating

asymmetry were reported by both partners as having more
orgasms during copulation
- as a group, male investment behaviour measures
had particularly low predictive utility

(Neave, Shields)

- facial hair condition incorporated five levels: clean-

shaven, light-stubble, heavy stubble, light beard and full
- Darwin referred to intersexual selection as female
choice because in many species, the female is the choosy
one due to different parental investment
- the features preferred by women are assumed to be
under the control of the gonadal sex-steroids beginning at
puberty when the individual enters the reproductive market
- testosterone is assumed to affect a number of facial
features that determine perceived masculinity: lateral
growth of cheekbones, jawbone and chin, the forward
growth of the eyebrow ridges and the lengthening of the
lower face, leading to a more robust face shape
- mens physical attractiveness had a non-significant - males with facial hair were perceived as being more
tendency to predict womens HSR orgasms aggressive, older, less attractive and were subject to reduced
- mens FAI remains significantly predictive perception of social maturity in comparison to clean-shaven
- women who tend to act in less exclusive ways to faces
their mate tended to fake orgasms more often than other - clean-shaven faces were regarded as being
women significantly more youthful, attractive and sociable than
- some evidence that mens weight and physical bearded faces (Wogalte&Hosie)
attractiveness predict copulatory female orgasm frequency - on one hand, a female might desire a male who is
independent of male body symmetry strong, mature and dominant, but is also perhaps seeking a
- Smith suggested that female orgasm has 2 design faithful, cooperative and caring partner; it has been shown
features: that male faces combining elements for both mature and
it preferentially retains sperm of males of high childlike features are perceived as being the most attractive
phenotypic quality - the faces were rated for: masculinity, aggression,
it promotes differential bonding with such males dominance, attractiveness, social maturity; and how
- circulating oxytocin during female sexual response, desirable the male would be for a romantic partner in a
peaking at orgasm, and is believed to facilitate orgasmic short-term and a long-term relationship; how old she
contractions of the smooth muscles of the uterus and vagina thought the male was
which may lead to sperm retention expected to be linearly correlated: masculinity,
- no evidence that female orgasm is associated with dominance, aggression, social maturity and age; for the rest
greater investment by women in their romantic relationship (attractiveness, preference for a short-term//long-term
or greater love for the male partner partner) were expected to be U-shaped
- recent theory and empirical results suggest that - most attractive: light stubble; least attractive: full
females will have evolved to trade off male investment for beard;
male genetic quality
- short term relationship: light stubble (most
- the occurrence of female orgasm across mammal
favoured) and full beard (least favoured);
species is predicted to be positively related to the
development of sperm competition adaptations in males - long term relationship: light stubble (most favoured)
vs clean shaven (least favoured)

CROSS-CULTURAL CONSENSUS FOR WAIST-HIP - exceeding these loads (baby+food) in the hot dry
RATIO AND WOMENs ATTRACTIVENESS (Singh) season could lead to risks of death or injury for the mother,
perhaps from heat stress; if, as seems more likely, she took
- a gynoid body fat distribution as measured by the care to avoid such risks by limitating her load and her choice
size of waist-hip ratio is a reliable indicator of their sex of days on which to forage, there might be a nutritional
hormone profile, greater success in pregnancy and less risk shortage for the family;
for major diseases - it might be reasonable to expect an impairment of
- in each culture participants selected women with the mothers lactation at high levels of work, heat or water
low WHR as attractive, regardless of increases or decreases stress, and lowered food intake; the last one might increase
in BMI the risks of infection
- womens mate value is determined by: hormonal - much longer intervals would be less effective simply
status, reproductive age, fecundity, parity and resistance to because fewer births could be fitted into the reproductive
diseases (cannot be directly observed) span
- WHR becomes distinctively sexually dimorphic - there is much evidence that the death of a baby
during pubertal development, with a low WHR triggering leads rapidly to a pregnancy in many populations
menarche in adolescent girls; (replacement births)
- WHR is shown to be between 0.67-0.80 in healthy, - groups of children: lived to 10 years of age or more
premenopausal, Caucasian women (survivor), or died and whether it died after the subsequent
- low WHR is correlated with an optimal sex hormone birth, or clearly before the next pregnancy (12 months or
profile and endocervical pH, which affects sperm transport; more before the next birth)
low WHR is also an independent predictor of successful - chimpanzees have longer IBIs than do humans;
pregnancy in women attending an artificial insemination since chimps do no provision for their families, mothers
clinic and in women undergoing in vitro fertilization and work as a provider cannot be the explanation of the long IBI,
embryo transfer although her work at carrying her offspring can be
- women with low WHR are at a lower risk of
developing cardiovascular disorders, adult onset diabetes
and various cancers (breast, ovarian, endometrial)

Singh: 3 body weight categories (under-weight, normal,

overweight) and 4 levels of WHR (0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0); for
normal category, WHR=0.7 was found most attractive
- women were also tested for preference because
they might be subject to even more social-media pressure
- similar preference for low WHR is evident in non-
Western and Western groups
- body weight has a negligible effect on how
attractive the body looks (postsurgically); rather, the critical
variable is the proportionality of the waist and the size of the


INTERBIRTH INTERVALS (Blurton Jones,, 1986)

- interbirth intervals (IBI) for !kung women average

around 4 years (long)
- given the observed features of !kung ecology,
shorter IBIs require a mother to carry much greater loads
(backload) of baby and food on her foraging trips;
- reproductive success would seem to be maximised
by frequent births, particularly if offspring mortality is not
taken into account; if mortality is high enough when there a
frequent, closely spaced births, then fewer, more widely
spaced births may leave more descendants
- explanations that have been offered for so long
birth intervals:
- children are not valued highly in the !kung society
- restraint on population size in order to conserve
resources and a leisurely life-style
- the work entailed by shorter interbirth intervals is
simply too much (Lee, 1972)
GENETIC EVIDENCE FOR UNEQUAL EFFECTIVE - As an explanation for the observed differences in
POPULATION SIZES OF HUMAN FEMALES AND the genealogies of the human NRY and mtDNA, we favor a
MALES model in which the human effective population size is
skewed toward an excess of females by sex-biased
- the time to the most recent common ancestor
demographic processes. The human mating system has often
(TMRCA) of the human mitochondria (171 to 238 kya)
=mtDNA is estimated to be older than that of the been considered to be moderately polygynous, based on
nonrecombining portion of the Y chromosome (46-110 kya) both surveys of world populations and on characteristics of
=NRY human reproductive physiology
hypothesis: natural selection has acted on the NRY,
- Another sex-specific demographic process that may
leading to a recent selective sweep
sex-biased demographic processes are cause the observed differences in the genealogies of mtDNA
responsible and the NRY is a sex bias in rates of migration among human
populations. For instance, the widespread phenomenon of
- NRY has extraordinarily low levels of sequence patrilocality (defined anthropologically as the tendency for a
diversity which has made characterization of variation
difficult and labour intense wife to move to her husbands natal domicile) could
- mtDNA has proven to be a prolific source of DNA contribute to the observed pattern if it resulted in higher
variation, even among very local populations rates of mtDNA than NRY gene flow between genetically
- because the TMRCA of a selectively neutral locus is distinct populations
influenced primarily by its effective population size, the
- we favor a hypothesis whereby sex-specific
observed disparity between mtDNA and NRY is somewhat
unexpected demographic processes act to reduce the male breeding
- the genealogy of the studied African population is population size
much deeper than those of non-African populations at both
mtDNA and the NRY
hypothesis: positive selection has reduced variation
on the human NRY; all else being equal, a recent
selective sweep on the NRY would indeed cause it to
have a more recent TMRCA than that of mtDNA in
accordance with the results; however, no population
sampled exhibits a significant excess of rare variants in
NRY, which is thought to be one of the genetic
signatures of a recent selective sweep

- purify- ing selection. For both genetic systems,

diversity (and, hence, the TMRCA) may be reduced by
selection acting against deleterious mutations at linked sites
- Whereas all mtDNA genes are single copy (and play
a vital role in cell metabolism), nearly all genes on the NRY
are multicopy or have closely related autosomal or X-linked
homologs (Skaletsky et al. 2003). Consequently, we do not
expect purifying selection to differentially reduce the
effective size of the NRY relative to that of mtDNA
- These lines of reasoning lead us to postulate that
sex- specific demographic processes are the most likely
causes of the observed discrepancy in the TMRCAs of mtDNA
and the NRY
- Based on one of the few direct comparisons of
patterns of mtDNA and NRY sequence variability, Tang et al.
(2002) suggested that the difference in coalescence times for
mtDNA and the NRY (which were given in numbers of
generations) could be minimized to some degree (and hence
explained) by taking account of evidence (see below) that
males have a longer generation time than females (i.e., 30
versus 25 years)