Darwin-L Message Log 8:52 (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.

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<8:52>From ALVARD@DICKINSON.EDU  Sat Apr 16 16:02:26 1994

Date: Sat, 16 Apr 94 17:01:45 est
From: Michael Alvard <ALVARD@dickinson.edu>
To: DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: re:mating

In response to Asia's comments:

>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 dubious. Anyhow, did anybody in fact observe
>that "males looking for a one night stand" prefer older females than those
>who are "looking for wives?"

While reproductive value or fertility are not the singular overwhelming
criteria for human male mate choices, I would argue reproduce considerations,
in general, are.  Males, cross culturally, prefer women who are young and
healthy. Both are traits  that correlate with reprodcutive value. Chubbiness,
for example, is attractive in most traditional societies because it is a
reliable indicator of health and fertility.  Monique Borgerhoff-Mulder
examined brideprice and female reproductive value with the Kipsigis, a
traditional group of Kenya.  Kipsigis males must pay livestock to obtain
their wives. Borgerhoff-Mulder found that the higher the reproductive value
of the bride, the greater the price she and her family could demand. Other
factors also effected the price:  pregnancy, a prior birth, lower levels of
body fat, a physical handicap are all factors that lowered the price.

I do not know any studies that have examined whether males who seek short-
term copulations prefer older females. This prediction would be very
difficult to test because the effect may be hard to detect.  Since short-
terms matings are often low-cost for males, a male pursuing a short term
mating strategy loses little by accepting a less than optimal partner.

Michael Alvard, Ph.D.			Tel: (717) 245-1902
Department of Anthropology			FAX: (717) 245-1479
Dickinson College				E-mail: Alvard@Dickinson.edu
Carlisle, PA  17013

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