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Discuss the relationship between sexual selection and human

reproductive behaviour

Natural selection favours the survival of the fittest however, this explanation
doesn’t explain characteristics that do not help survival. For example a
peacock’s tail is detrimental to its ability to fly. Darwin therefore suggested
sexual selection, that said that any characteristic that benefits reproductive
success will become the norm over time as it is consistently selected.

Sexual selection involves the competition with other members of your sex for the
best mates to continue reproduction (intra-sexual competition) and choosing the
best mate of the opposite sex (intersexual competition). In humans, it tends to
be the females that are more choosy and the males that have to compete more.

Amisogamy is a factor of sexual selection in which the gametes of males and


females are of unequal size. In females the egg is large and appears less
frequently therefore have to be highly selective in mate choice to ensure that
her offspring are of the highest quality. On the other hand, the male produces
large numbers of sperm all of which can fertilise the egg and thus pass on the
males genes. According to evolutionary psychology, amisogamy is the key
biological difference for human reproductive behaviour.

According to evolutionary theory we would expect females to need a mate to be


committed to her and her offspring and to provide resources. Buss (89) found
evidence to support this from a cross-cultural questionnaire in which he found
that across cultures females viewed financial status to be twice important as
men, as. Females in every culture preferred older men which supports the
evolutionary theory that females require investment. This also explains
differences in parental investment desires.

On the contrary, Buss found that men valued youth and physical attractiveness
as more important as these signify fertility. This evidence supports the link
between sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour, as males need
fertile females in order to maximise their reproductive success.

Gender differences in human reproductive behaviour such as mating preference


are also affected to a degree by sexual selection. Evolutionary theory would
suggest that females prefer monogamy (1 male to help bring up her offspring)
whereas males would be suited to polygamy (multiple copulations to increase
reproductive success).

Evidence to support the mating systems used by humans in reproductive


behaviour can be seen in short’s sperm competition theory, in which males with
more competition for example chimpanzees, had larger testicles so that more
gametes could be produced in a promiscuous mating. Bellis & Baker (1995)
found that medium human testicle size shows that promiscuity and polygamy
suit males, which supports the evolutionary theory for the relationship between
sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour.
Explanations into evolutionary theory explain the relationship between natural
selection and reproductive behaviour but fail to explain gay relationships without
the ability to have children.

In conclusion there is a relationship between natural selection and reproductive


behaviour but evolution explanations are over simplified.