Discuss Theories of Parental Investment in Relationships

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Parental investment

Female investment in a child is usually greater. This is because female’s have limited offspring, whereas men can have potentially an unlimited offspring, as well as this, females also make a greater pre and postnatal commitment. The female must carry and nourish the child for 9 months, and then continue to care  for the baby once it is born, as the child cannot get this care from the male, the male’s investment is much less, as the male can “opt out” where the mother cannot. The investment made by mothers is also great, as human babies are more dependant and require more care, as they are born less developed than other species.

Male investment is less than females because males are always at risk of cuckoldry (investing resources in another man’s child) whereas females are always certain the child is theirs. Therefore the males invest less in the child, to reduce the risk of cuckoldry. Sexual jealousy, therefore, may have evolved as a solution to these problems. Men are more jealous of the sexual act (to avoid cuckoldry) while women are more jealous of the shift in emotional focus (and consequent loss of resources).

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Buss et al provides support. They found that male students showed a higher galvanic skin response (GSR -measure of emotional arousal) when asked to imagine their partner being unfaithful. Whereas female partners showed higher GSR arousal when presented with concerts about emotional infidelity. Therefore, this supports the claim that males are more likely to experience sexual jealousy and female more likely to experience emotional jealousy.

Harris, however, found that men respond with greater arousal to any sexual imagery, regardless of its context. Therefore questions if this is an adaptive response.

Another criticism is that the model emphasises the risk ...

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