Outline and evaluate evolutionary explanations of parental investment

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Charley McCarthy

Highsted School

Assignment 4

Outline and evaluate evolutionary explanations of parental investment

(24 marks)

  The evolutionary explanations of parental investment all believe that parents invest in their offspring in various ways, such as giving food and the energy put into rearing the child, and risks taken to protect them. This investment is defined as ‘any investment made by a parent in one of his or her offspring that increases the chance that the offspring will survive at the expense of the parent’s ability to invest in any other offspring (alive or yet to be born)’ by Trivers, 1972. The amount of parental investment however, differs between males and females.

  Trivers, in 1972, came up with the parental investment theory. Central to this is the fact that men and women do not usually invest the same amount in their offspring. Women have to invest more to start with, as women have far less eggs, and these are harder to produce, than men do sperm. As well as this, females are limited to how many offspring they can have, whilst males can produce a virtually unlimited number. For this reason, females are typically concerned with the quality of a male and the resources they can supply, whilst males are more concerned with the quantities of females he can impregnate. After birth, human women have babies that are far more immature that other species, due to evolution of scull size, so have to spend longer rearing their children, such as breastfeeding. There are two consequences of this maternal investment- females wish for male providers because of the dependency that their children have on them, and because of the effort in rearing children, women do not want their efforts wasted on bad quality offspring. For example, to prevent this they may marry a man with plenty of resources, but have an affair with a more attractive man, therefore cuckoldering their mate.

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  Human males, on the other hand, can choose not to invest much in their children. Conception takes very little, as they have an infinite amount of sperm and do not have to go through pregnancy. Following the birth, they have the choice to invest nothing at all. However, when they do choose to, they must protect themselves from cuckoldry, as have a larger concern for fidelity of their partner than women d (Miller, 1998). Whilst a man risked being cuckolded if his mate was unfaithful, women risked losing resources. It is thought that as an answer to these problems, ...

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Although the writer has outlined the explanation of parental investment a lot of the work is not in the writer's own words. Also to evaluate the subject there would have to be consideration of its weaknesses and strengths. References have been used and the writer has clearly read around the subject More work is needed on summarising what has been read and putting this into the writer's own words. Star rating 3 *