Professor: Sex and Evolutionary Theory Essay

Submitted By azmal96
Words: 662
Pages: 3

Describe & evaluate evolutionary explanations of jealousy and infidelity in humans (24)

Evolutionary theory argues aggression in humans is an evolved, natural instinct which promotes survival and reproductive opportunities. Aggression appears to an adaptive behaviour as in the cave man days aggressive men had more access to food and partner selection. Throughout the species males aggressive tendencies can be seen to aid sexual selection, as males often have to compete with other males for access to the females; intrasexual selection. As males can never be sure of paternity aggressive behaviour is deemed biologically crucial for enhancing his own reproductive survival. For women however an aggressive male appears more attractive as it enhances survival by protecting them and their offspring. When humans feel our reproductive success is threatened evolutionary theorists argue jealously and infidelity is an evolutionary cause of human aggression. In other words they are evolved behaviours to protect both ourselves and our offspring.
For women who are guaranteed of maternity protection of their offspring is crucial. Looy’s research implies that for women jealously is triggered by the presence of a younger, more attractive female. This is huge support for the evolutionary theory, as a younger female in evolutionary terms is more attractive to males due to heightened fertility, therefore other females may respond with aggression/jealously towards younger women as they fear such individuals are rivals, competing for their mate and the provider of their offspring. Younger women appear to question another woman’s survival and reproductive success. So this jealously towards them appears a evolved pattern of behaviour.
More support for this comes from Buss who found that females are much more concerned when their partner falls in love with another woman; emotional infidelity. This can be explained by evolutionary theory as the woman fears losing her valuable resources and therefore both her and her offspring’s survival chances are reduced. For men however, Buss found it is sexual infidelity which they fear rather than a shift in emotional focus. Again this can be used to support evolutionary theory as for men who are biologically unsure of paternity; a sexually unfaithful female puts him in a vulnerable position as potentially his reproductive success is threatened; as current/potential children may not be his. When this occurs it is likely that males respond with jealously and aggression in a bid to protect their reproductive survival.
There is lots of research to support the fact that men are biological programmed to respond with aggression when partner infidelity is feared. Goetz found men’s violence against intimate partners was often associated with frequent suspicions of partner infidelity. Whilst alternatively Daly found men were much…