Discuss the relationship between human reproductive behaviour and sexual selection.

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Psychology Essay.  Discuss the relationship between human reproductive behaviour and sexual selection.

An important feature of most sexually reproducing species is that males are more brightly coloured than females.  Darwin believed the reason for this lay in female choice.  If a particular characteristic becomes a universal preference among females then those males possessing the best examples of it will be picked.  This pressure encourages competition.  This is a basic sexual selection that any trait that increases reproductive success will become more exaggerated over time.  

The nature of sexual selection can be found in gender-speciifc criteria.  In our evolutionary past, men who selected mates low in reproductive capacity (older, less healthy females) enjoyed a lower reproductive success than those who chose females with high reproductive capacity and vice versa.  Also those females who selected males who were unable or unwilling to invest resources in them and their offspring enjoyed lower reproductive success.  But since women have to make greater investment in offspring they are more choosy about a mate.  This female choosiness (intersexual selection) means males have to compete with eachother (intrasexual competition) to be chosen.

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The origins of mate preference is the result of evolved psychological mechanisms that solved the problem of who to chose in the EEA.  Our ancestors probably lived in small tribes where sexual and social relations were fluid, with a lot of infidelity.  These preferences are now complex neural circuits that bias mating in favour of individuals with those preferred characteristics.  It pays to be choosy as the genetic quality of a mate is an important determinant of the genetic quality of the offspring.

There are two forms of sexual seletion: the selection for indicators and the selection for sperm ...

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