Parental Investment iin Children - Outline of evolutionary explanations

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Parental Investment

1  – Outline of evolutionary explanations

Sex differences:  

Women, as we know, have little choice in how much investment they are willing to give in their children as the development of a child takes 9 months. But due to the various pressures applied to our ancestors, our brain size increased in order to increase our intelligence as an adaptive measure. This resulted in an enlargement of the infants skull, which in turn means that childbirth has to occur at an earlier stage than is the case with other animals and so infants are born immaturely. This means they require an extended postnatal care (as well as the obvious prenatal care) in order to develop fully, as is the case with many mammalian animals.
Men’s parental investment is arguably more selfish than that of women. While all that’s required of us to make a baby is a meagre donation of our semen, men are in fact, according to a study by Miller (1998), more concerned with the legitimacy of their children and the fidelity of their wives, so as to protect themselves and their investment from cuckoldring – i.e. an invesment in a child that isn’t related to them (which in a evolutionary perspective would be a waste of resources as it doesn’t insure the survival of ones own DNA). So in order to achieve this sense of security, adultery laws are established that define the offence in terms of the woman’s marital status.
This altogether means however, that women are a lot more selective about their mates, as their potential parental investment is far more significant than that of men and far more binding.

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Parent-Offspring Conflict

PI does however largely neglects the offspring and as such passes it off as a passive factor in the process. But that isn’t necessarily true. Parental investment is largely based on the assumption that parents go for the allocation of resources that benefit themselves the most, whereas the child would obviously attempt the opposite.
For example, the most common of the more dangerous complications for pregnant women, pre-eclampsia, is caused by the infant pressuring the woman’s body into giving it more nutrients through the secretion of certain hormones. This heightens the woman’s blood pressure, allowing more nutrient-filled blood ...

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