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Darwin-L Message Log 8:55 (April 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<8:55>From carey@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu  Sun Apr 17 11:34:07 1994

Date: Sun, 17 Apr 1994 12:33:42 -0400 (EDT)
From: Arlen Carey <carey@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu>
Subject: Re: mating
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Lerner, in her critique of Alvard's comments, states:

>This prediction, of course, rests on the supposition that "fertility" or
>"reproductive value" are the single overwhelming criteria for the human
>male, which seems rather doubious.

The _assertion_ reflects a commonly-held misunderstanding of modern
Darwinian behavioral science.  Namely, Lerner assumes that proposed
evolutionarily-established mating strategies (or other behavioral
strategies/evolutionary psychologies if you like) are/need be consciously
recognized by their perpetrators in order for them to hold water.  This is
not what most evolutionists say (or mean) as far as I can tell.  Rather,
the darwinists argue that observed patterns of behavior indicate that
actors behave AS IF they were following a strategy.  Thus, at a basic
level anyhow, we need not worry about one's conscious mate selection
strategy, rather the question is 'what types of females are most often
selected by males as mates, those with greater or less reproductive
potential?'.  Viewed this way, I think the data will clearly demonstrate a
strong _de facto_ preference for females with greater reprod. potential,
regardless of the sophistries males may engage to "explain" their
behavior.  Likewise, to demonstrate lesser discrimination in picking mates
for a one-night-stand than for a long-term relationship investigations
should focus on the characteristics of the mates actually selected, rather
than on the preferences stated by the involved party.  E.g., a young male
may walk into a singles bar wanting to spend the night with a elle
mcpherson look-alike (young and healthy-looking--proximate cues of
reproductive viability/potential), but more often than not be willing so
settle for a one-time mate whose appearance diverges dramatically from the
initial preference.

For those interested in related notions of self-deception, I recommend
Lopreato's _Human Nature and Biocultural Evolution_ Allen & Unwin, 1984.

Also, some of you may be interested in a wonderful book I've just begun
reading by psychologist David Buss (1994) entitled _The Evolution of
Desire:  Strategies of Human Mating_.  This book promises to address
differences in female/male mating strategies and short/long-term
strategies.

Arlen Carey

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