Discuss sex differences in parental investment (24 marks)

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Parental investment

Trivers suggests that parental investment differs because of the sex differences that exist between males and females. From the outset of parenthood, females make a greater biological investment then males. Notably, female’s reproductive system is more precious as they produce very few eggs whilst males produce a large number of sperm. This suggests that the biological aspect of conceiving a child is much more costly for females hence their greater parental investment. As a result of this, females have to be much chooser in their selection of a male as they do not want to waste their eggs.

It is not just a larger prenatal investment that females make but it is also much larger postnatal investment. Due to the immaturity of human babies at birth compared to other mammals, there is an extended period of childcare featuring breastfeeding. Males are unable to breastfeed as thus the female’s role is much more dominant and explains why they have high levels of investment at this stage and why she may seek a man with good genes and commitment to the relationship. This supports Buss’s cross cultural findings that women value material resources in potential partners, whereas males, who make less parental investment, have multiple mating’s with young females.

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This greater investment of females can be further explained by parental certainty. Female’s paternity can be certain as the pregnancy is happening internally. However, males cannot be as certain that the child is theirs. For this reason, it is suggested that males protect themselves from the rick of cuckoldry by being reluctant to invest heavily in offspring.

Sexual infidelity is not just a risk for males investing in offspring that is not genetically theirs but it is also a risk for females. This is because if a male carries out sexual infidelity, they bear a child with another woman and ...

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