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Parental Investment Theory.

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Parental Investment Theory

Parental investment theory suggests that the ways in which men and women differ in terms of sexual selection can be explained by their different contributions to the reproductive process.

Sexual reproduction involves the fusion of gametes, sperm from the male and an ovum from the female. Ova are about 100 times larger than sperm and it is clear that for each gamete produced, a female makes a heavier investment (in terms of the supply of biomass) than does the male. The female must carry the developing embryo and foetus to full term. Even after birth, the infants of early humans would have been dependant on mother’s milk for one or two years. All this adds up to a huge asymmetry in the parental investment each sex makes in the rearing of offspring, and this has left its mark on the mating strategies employed by human males and females.

        Robert Trivers (1972)

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        Bus (1992) based his arguments on cross-cultural studies from 33 countries, states that men value physical attractiveness more than do women while women are more likely than are men to value good earning potential and high educational and occupational status. When offered a list of characteristics from which to choose, women tend to choose such attributes, as ‘good financial prospects’ while men tend to opt for good looks as essential criteria.

        Bus did an experiment into sex differences in jealousy. To test for sexual differences in of jealousy he issued questionnaires to undergraduates at the University of Michigan, asking them to rank the level of distress caused by either the sexual or emotional infidelity of a parent. The results suggested that men tend to be more concerned about sexual infidelity and women amore about emotional infidelity.

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        Whilst there has been research particularly that of Buss, which supports predictions made by Parental Investment Theory there are problems with these in terms of the representative nature of the sample, methods employed, and shared attitudes and beliefs which play a vital role in establishing and maintaining a relationship.

Edd Brown

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