Human Sexuality – Evolutionary Psychology

In humans, Darwin made men and women to adopt very different mating strategies –

The female reproductive strategy one that favours quality over quantity, whereas the male reproductive strategy focuses on quantity over quality. That’s surprising because for humans to reproduce, men and women have to work together. How can they work together when their strategies are so different, and how did it happen in the first place?

From an evolutionary standpoint, to be successful individual means to be able to pass on one’s genes through mating, and having a successful offspring – making gazillion babies and have them all die within a week is not very effective.

And for men and women, that requires very different strategies. For men, sperm cells are cheap and plentiful, so the optimal strategy is to impregnate as many women as possible, put in no commitment, and hope some of them will survive. If there is an infinite supply of women willing to have sex (for example, if you are the Khan), it will work. Men are perfectly capable of impregnating at least a women a day, and by chance, some of them WILL survive to reproduce. Genghis Khan, for example, had at least hundreds of children.

On the other hand, for women, that would be a very crappy reproductive strategy, because of 9 months pregnancies. Women can’t just go have sex with every man she sees, because once she gets pregnant, she can’t mate again for 9 months, even if a better guy comes along (better meaning having genes that are more likely to make offspring successful). They have to be choosy and only have sex with men that she deems worthy. They want men that are willing to put in a lot of commitment to help raising the children – unfortunately that directly conflicts with the male strategy.

In the real world, compromises are made between men and women so that we can actually make babies so humans don’t go extinct. However, the fundamental differences still shine through in our modern society –

  • Females are choosier than males. Males have to compete to get access to ANY female, while females only have to compete for “high quality” males, sometimes. This is true for all species that have an uneven division of sacrifices between the sexes – eg. male seahorses are responsible for carrying baby seahorses, so they get to be choosy, and have females compete for them.
  • Females are more concerned about their partners becoming emotionally attached to another female, while males are more concerned about their partners having sex with another male – paternity confidence. Males need to make sure they are not wasting energy raising someone else’s child, and females don’t usually need to worry about that. On the other hand, females need to worry about their partner getting pulled into another relationship, and stop committing to this one.
  • Males like variety. Porn, prostitution, extra-marital affairs, sexual fantasies, etc. Yes, there are male porn actors, but even then, their target audience is usually homosexual men rather than heterosexual women.
  • Males are very willing to have sex, even with strangers. Most females aren’t.

Just thought that’s very interesting.

BTW, this is all from Dr. Paul Wehr’s PSYC 208. If you are staying at UBC for at least another year, you should take it!!