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Sexual Conflict The Coevolutionary Battle of the Sexes (Part I)

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Presentation on theme: "Sexual Conflict The Coevolutionary Battle of the Sexes (Part I)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sexual Conflict The Coevolutionary Battle of the Sexes (Part I)

2 Understanding Sexual Conflict A psychic struggle, often unconscious, resulting from the opposition or simultaneous functioning of mutually exclusive impulses, desires, or tendencies Why does sexual conflict occur?  Disagreement among actors in regards to goals and means of achieving them  Serves no direct purpose, unto itself

3 Strategic Interference Theory Men and women have different preferred mating strategies While the final goal (i.e., reproduce) might be the same, the means of achieving this goal are often grounds for disagreement  in virtually all intersexual relationships  posing an adaptive problem

4 The Utility of Negative Emotions We qualify certain emotions as “negative” However, these emotions may have adaptive purposes  Help focus our attention to problems  May encode problematic events into memory for easier recovery  May encourage problem-solving action

5 Conflict Over Sexual Access Common relationship problem Men tend to overestimate sexual interest of women This “inference mechanism” may be manipulated for benefits

6 Focus: Water Striders Water striders are an interesting clade for studying the coevolution of sexually antagonistic traits

7 Conflict Over Commitment Men may be more guarded about their resources, particularly if they are scarce However, there is a demand for investment (signaled by commitment) on the “mating market,” hence men may attempt to deceive mates Women may have coevolved adaptations to counter such deception, such as delaying sex

8 Conflict Over Sexual Withholding Fulfills several functions  Enhances ability to choose appropriate mates  Increase its scarcity, thus increasing its cost to potential mates  Manipulates female’s mate value

9 Jealousy As discussed several times, men and women have different mating costs  Heavy minimum investment for women  Cuckolding for men These differing costs may lead to sex differences in jealousy-evocation  Sexual vs. emotional infidelity

10 Mate Retention Tactics Purpose is twofold  Deter partner from committing acts of sexual infidelity  Deter partner from leaving the relationship Sex differences  Men: concealment, threats, violence, resource displays, submission  Women: appearance enhancement, jealousy inducement

11 Context Effects on Retention Perceived likelihood of infidelity (men) Reproductive value of woman (men)  Age & attractiveness  Study of Trinidadian men Resources & status (women)

12 Understanding Uxoricide (1) Why would men pursue a mate or ex-mate in order to kill her?  Threats, unto themselves, have no value unless there is a belief that they will be carried out  Moreover, since young women are highest in reproductive value and most likely to “defect”, they are most at risk

13 A male of low value may resort to more extreme forms of mate-retention tactics Figueredo et al (2001) found two reciprocal effects of kin  Decrease risk of victimization for woman if her kin are nearby  Increase risk of perpetration for man if his kin are nearby Understanding Uxoricide (2)

14 The Problem with Patriarchy Patriarchy is likely the product of coevolved preferences for resourceful mates among females and resource competition among males While it may appear that competition happens between females and males, most competition is actually happening amongst males and amongst females

15 The Wrap-Up Understanding conflict Strategic interference theory Conflict over sexual access, commitment, and withholding Jealousy Mate retention Uxoricide

16 Things to Come Evolutionary perspectives on rape  Research issues  Controversies  Animal models  Adaptation vs. by-product  Mate deprivation hypothesis  Short-term mating strategies

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