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Parental Investment iin Children - Outline of evolutionary explanations

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Introduction

Parental Investment 1 - Outline of evolutionary explanations Sex differences: Women, as we know, have little choice in how much investment they are willing to give in their children as the development of a child takes 9 months. But due to the various pressures applied to our ancestors, our brain size increased in order to increase our intelligence as an adaptive measure. This resulted in an enlargement of the infants skull, which in turn means that childbirth has to occur at an earlier stage than is the case with other animals and so infants are born immaturely. This means they require an extended postnatal care (as well as the obvious prenatal care) in order to develop fully, as is the case with many mammalian animals. Men's parental investment is arguably more selfish than that of women. While all that's required of us to make a baby is a meagre donation of our semen, men are in fact, according to a study by Miller (1998), more concerned with ...read more.

Middle

When offspring are still in their infancy, parents usually invest more of their resources to them, so as to ensure their survival and fitness. However, new offspring arrives, the focus once more shifts to them, as they can better afford to divert their attention and resources to them, rather than the older and less helpless offspring. But as the older offspring is less eager to relinquish their allocated resources, they will try to prolong their parents' focus on them in order to further increase their own fitness. It is in these moments of focus-shift that parent-offspring conflicts are greatest. This conflict does however also lead to sibling rivalry, as each offspring will want their 'fair share' of parental attention and as such will compete with each other for it. 2 - Supporting/challenging studies Sex differences: Buss et al. (1992) - Buss found that among US students, males were more concerned with sexual infidelity, where women were more concerned with emotional infedelity. ...read more.

Conclusion

the raised heart rate may be caused by extraneous variables rather than the confronting question. Parent-Offspring conflict: Andrews (2006) - Andrews conducted a survey on 1600 US adolescents and found that severe suicide attempts were significantly more common among middle-born children when compared to first and last-borns. His hypothesis was that this was a cry out for attention in order to extort an increased investment from their parents, which would support the PI theory, in that children adapt to achieve parental investment. While the study could well be considered reliable in terms of the quantitative data, there are however issues regarding the qualitative of it. For example, the sample was taken in the US, which limits the validity of the data, as it can hardly be generalised - the upbringing of American middle-borns may be different and might simply promote suicidal tendencies. Furthermore, the sample is focused on adolescents only - which isn't really applicable to any other age groups, as teenagers are generally speaking hormonal time-bombs and the middle-borns may be simply affected by that, rather than apparent parental neglect. ...read more.

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