Darwin-L Message Log 8:61 (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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<8:61>From azlerner@midway.uchicago.edu  Sun Apr 17 21:12:42 1994

Date: Sun, 17 Apr 94 21:12:40 CDT
From: "Asia "I work in mysterious ways" Lerner" <azlerner@midway.uchicago.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.

I am not sure how to interpret this answer. The second sentence seems to
contradict the first.

  Males, cross culturally, prefer women who are young and

Females also prefer men who are young and healthy - so I am not sure how
much can be deduced from this.

  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.

Again, this is a vague statement - does "chubbiness" indeed a reliable
indicator? A woman can be extremely healthy without being "chubbie."
A woman can be chubbie and not healthy.
The minimum of body fat that a women needs in order to be fertile in no
way corresponds to "chubbieness", and of course "chubbieness" itself is
not a well defined state of things.

  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'll look her up and comment afterwards.

  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.

Why? I can easily imagine an experiment - say, you show a radomly selected
group of men a series of photographs of women and ask them to grade the
women according to their desirability as one-time partners. Or observe the
behaviour of men in a bar. One can quarell with both of those experiments,
to be sure, but I don't see why this is harder to research than any other
issue that deals with mate selection.

  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.

This contradicts your previous supposition.


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