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Discuss the relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour. (24 marks)

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´╗┐Discuss the relationship between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour. (24 marks) Jun ?12 Human reproductive behaviour is an evolutionary approach as it tries to explain behaviour from the point of view of how it has evolved. Sexual selection is the process in which a species changes over time as a result of the passing on of the genes that make one individual more attractive than another. For example, evolutionary psychologists explain the relative hairlessness of humans in terms of sexual selection, as this trait was adaptive in that it enhanced reproductive fitness by indicating hygiene; it has evolved and developed over the centuries as it confers a net benefit. There are two types of sexual selection: Intra-sexual selection is the competition within males as females are scarce resource for which males compete. Due to intra-sexual selection, men have evolved to have larger, more triangular backs which indicate strength and make them more attractive to females. Females on the other hand have evolved to have a typical hour-glass figure, which indicates health and fertility, making them attractive to male. Inter-sexual selection involves the apparent ?choosiness? of females. ...read more.


The PIT argues that differences in male and female reproductive behaviour are due to the amount of parental investments (PI) made by both sexes. Human males? PI is relatively small. A man has a huge, indefinite amount of sperm and will remain fertile all his life, so therefore men can produce an infinite amount of children. It doesn?t take that much time or effort to leave a woman pregnant so the best way for a man to maximise his reproductive success is to mate with as many women as possible. Women on the other hand have a very large PI. They have a limited amount of eggs and her reproductive life is shortened to about 30 years. As they only ovulate once a month, there is a limited amount of offspring they can have. Following conception she will have to carry the baby for 40 weeks, which will interfere with her heath and figure. Due to this, women have to be very careful when choosing a mate. This theory can also help explain the differences between genders and short or long term relationships. Clark et al. (1989-1990) through his campus study found that men are more likely to have short term relationships and one night stands than women are. ...read more.


However, if women are promiscuous and sleep with more than a handful of people they will be shunned upon. If we look at female chimpanzees, they are very promiscuous, so males have to compete a lot. They have evolved to have large testicles to provide sufficient sperm. Gorillas on the other hand have small testicles compared to their body size because females are monogamous so there is little competition. Human males have medium sized testicles by primate standards. Baker and Bellis (1995) suggested that the norm for ancestral males was to compete, so females must have been promiscuous and had various partners. Therefore, due to these findings it wasn?t frown upon for women to be promiscuous as it is nowadays. Lastly we have to take into considerations free will and determinism. If sexual selection, human reproductive behaviour and the relationships it involves are truly due to evolutionary factors, then all relationships would be highly predictable. However, as time has passed, contraception has become more easily available, so some couples chose to have sex but not to conceive a child. In some cases some people don?t even want to have children. Furthermore, there has been an increase in homosexual relationships. This implies that we have more control over our behaviour than the evolutionary theory says we do. ...read more.

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