It is commonly assumed that the desire for a thin female physique and its pathological expression in eating disorders result from a social pressure for thinness. However, such widespread behavior may be better understood not merely as the result of arbitrary social pressure, but as an exaggerated expression of behavior that may have once been adaptive. The reproductive suppression hypothesis suggests that natural selection shaped a mechanism for adjusting female reproduction to socioecological conditions by altering the amount of body fat. (...) In modern Western culture, social and ecological cues, which would have signaled the need for temporary postponement of reproduction in ancestral environments, may now be experienced to an unprecedented intensity and duration. (shrink)
Supporting Hamilton’s inclusive fitness theory, archival analyses of inheritance patterns in wills have revealed that people invest more of their estates in kin of closer genetic relatedness. Recent classroom experiments have shown that this genetic relatedness effect is stronger for relatives of direct lineage (children, grandchildren) than for relatives of collateral lineage (siblings, nieces, nephews). In the present research, multilevel modeling of more than 1,000 British Columbian wills revealed a positive effect of genetic relatedness on proportions of estates allocated to (...) relatives. This effect was qualified by an interaction with lineage, such that it was stronger for direct than for collateral relatives. Exploratory analyses of the moderating role of benefactors’ sex and estate values showed the genetic relatedness effect was stronger among female and wealthier benefactors. The importance of these moderators to understanding kin investment in modern humans is discussed. (shrink)
I claim that our desire to be special motivates us to suppose that if we were not God created, we must be self-created. I also claim that Stephen J Gould's claims about punctuated equilibrium, the absence of directional selection, and exaptations, when taken together, lead to kind of secular creationism. I introduce the notion of “adaptive effects” and argue that a focus on the actual physiological and psychological mechanisms that produce adaptations provides a way out of the exaptation dilemma.
Why is female violence a taboo? We suggest that both men and women actively contribute to the creation of this stigma. Men may benefit because nonaggressive women may make better mothers and be more faithful and fertile. Females may benefit by downplaying their aggressive nature because they will be perceived as more valuable mates and because they will be more accepted within female social groups.
We present a quantitative model of sex allocation to investigate whether the simple “rules of thumb” suggested by Trivers and Willard (1973) would really maximize numbers of grandchildren in human populations. Using demographic data from the !Kung of southern Africa and the basic assumptions of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, we calculate expected numbers of grandchildren based on age- and sex-specific reproductive value. Patterns of parental investment that would maximize numbers of expected grandchildren often differ from the Trivers-Willard rules. In particular, the (...) optimum parental behavior is sensitive to population dynamics, type of parental investment, and, most important, relative ages of sons and daughters. It is doubtful whether a parent blindly following the simple Trivers-Willard rules would maximize numbers of expected grandchildren, on average. In addition, we show that sex-specific infanticide will almost never achieve the goal of maximizing expected numbers of grandchildren. (shrink)
The “reproductive suppression hypothesis” states that the strong desire of adolescent girls in our culture to control their weight may reflect the operation of an adaptive mechanism by which ancestral women controlled the timing of their sexual maturation and hence first reproduction, in response to cues about the probable success of reproduction in the current situation. We develop a model based on this hypothesis and explore its behavior and evolutionary and psychological implications across a range of parameter values. We use (...) the process of model development to identify assumptions implicit in the reproductive suppression hypothesis and variables that need to be measured in order to investigate it more fully. In addition, because costs were probably associated with weight control, an important part of this analysis is the specification of situations in which the benefits of adaptive adjustment of the maturation schedule could have outweighed the costs of achieving that adjustment by slowing adolescent weight gain. (shrink)