.. e a larger parental investment and therefore must look for mates who are willing to commit to a long-term relationship. “A man in human evolutionary history could walk away from a casual coupling having lost only a few hours of time. His reproductive success was not seriously compromised. A woman in evolutionary history could also walk away from a casual encounter, but if she got pregnant as a result, she bore the costs of that decision for months, years, and even decades afterward.” A woman therefore must be very particular about who she chooses as a mate.
A woman must first consider a man’s resources. According to Buss, men with a high level of resources are better able at providing food, shelter and fending off rivals. The best indicator today for evaluating a man’s resources is economic assets. In his world wide study, women overall “value financial resources about 100 percent more than men do or roughly twice as much.” Another indicator of a man’s resources is his social status. Men high in social status are more likely to hold power and privilege, an invaluable resource which can often be passed down to descendants. In the world wide study women tended to place more importance in social status than men in prospective mates.
The study also showed that men tend to marry downward whereas women tended to prefer a mate of higher social status. Age is also another indicator of a man’s resources due to men generally acquiring higher wages as they age. And again we see in the worldwide study a general tendency for women to prefer men “who are roughly three and a half years older.” Buss also claims that women have acquired a preference for men who show signs of ambition, intelligence and stability. In Buss’s worldwide study women rated each of these traits as more important than men did. Women also show a propensity for men who show signs of good health, strength and athletic prowess.
Buss claims that this is due to evolution favoring those women who choose men who were successful as hunters and defenders of their family. Good health was also important due to the chance that a male could pass on genes for poor health to her young. Finally, women desire a high level of commitment from a mate. This ensures that a male’s resources are channeled to his family and will not be channeled elsewhere. What males’ desire in a mate is immensely different from females and is often juxtaposed.
“Since all an ancestral man needed to do to reproduce was to impregnate a woman, casual sex without commitment would have sufficed for him.” However, Buss argues, that men committing to a relationship also served an adaptive advantage. For one, women often require a male’s commitment before agreeing to sex and secondly, by committing to a monogamous relationship a male better ensures the health and well being of his offspring. Men, according to Buss, search out women who have the capacity for bearing many children. Men, consequently, developed a basis for which to judge a female’s reproductive capacity. One way a man judges a female’s reproductive value is age.
“Youth is a critical cue .. ” to a woman’s reproductive value. As a Woman’s ability to produce children declines with the onset of old age so does her desirability. Buss’s thirty-seven-culture study showed that on average men desire wives that are approximately 2.5 years younger than they are. Men also look to physical beauty and body shape as a cue to a woman’s reproductive capacity.
According to Buss, men prefer women who show evidence of “health and youth.” “Men who failed to prefer qualities that signal high reproductive value-men who preferred to marry gray-haired women lacking in smooth skin and firm muscle tone-would have left fewer offspring, and their line would have died out.” Buss cites as evidence a recent study that generated composites of the human face and asked men to judge which faces they believed to be the most attractive. Men repeatedly choose the faces that were the most symmetrical. Symmetry, according to biologists, is a sign of good health and youth, which would explain why men judged those faces with highest levels of symmetry as the most beautiful. Body shape also provides an important clue to the reproductive value of a woman. Men from different cultures tend to prefer different body types from thin to stout but one preference tends to remain the same: the waist to hip ratio.
Buss cites a study that found that men tend to prefer, regardless of culture, a woman with a hip to waist ratio of 0.70. Buss claims that this ratio is an important clue to a woman’s reproductive value because higher ratios tend to indicate that a woman is pregnant. The search for casual sex is a trait that men have adapted due to men increasing their chances of reproductive success by mating with multiple females. Buss demonstrates this by pointing to a phenomenon called the Coolidge effect. The Coolidge effect is a “tendency of males to be sexually rearoused upon the presentation of novel females, giving them a further impulse to gain sexual access to multiple women.
As evidence for this occurrence, Buss cites research done by Kinsey which found that 50 percent of males and only 26 percent of female had extramarital affairs. A similar study done by another scientist yielded even more surprising results. According to the “Hunts” survey, 41 percent of males and only 18 percent of women engaged in extramarital affairs. These studies along with others indicate: men far more than women pursue novelty in their sexual relationships. Buss claims that the behaviors of homosexuals serve to strengthen his arguments for the evolutionary basis of sex differences in the desire for mates.
Homosexual men, according to buss exhibit the same evolutionary traits as heterosexual males. Both homosexual and heterosexual males place great importance on the appearance of their partners. They also both attach immense weight to a potential partner’s age. Lesbians however, like heterosexual females, place little importance on a companion’s physical appearance. Buss points to a study that seems to offer evidence to substantiate this claim. According to one investigation, which asked what qualities an individual desired in a mate, heterosexual women and lesbian women alike tended to place “little emphasis on physical appearance, with only 19.5 percent of the heterosexual women and 18 percent of the lesbians mentioning this quality.
Whereas heterosexual men noted physical beauty as a quality they seek in a mate 48 percent of the time and homosexual men 29 percent of the time.” There is also evidence for Buss’s claim in the number of sexual partners had by both homosexuals and lesbians. Homosexuals again tend to exhibit the same quality as heterosexual men preferring many sex partners. “The evidence suggests that when men are unconstrained by the courtship and commitment requirements typically imposed by women, they freely satisfy their desires for casual sex with a variety of partners.” Contrary to men, lesbian women, much like heterosexual women, tended to “settle into intimate, lasting, committed relationships.” This evidence seems to suggest that men and women have evolved unconscious desires that do not change with sexual preference. Men and women tend to exhibit their expected sexual behavior regardless of their sexual preference. Conclusion The two books examined in this paper, Martin Daly and Margo Wilson’s Homicide and David M.
Buss’s The Evolution of Desire, suggest that human mating strategies have an evolutionary basis. The book written by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson supplies the theoretical groundwork and the book written by David M. Buss gives validity and empirical support for the theory. The two books make a strong scientific argument for evolutionary adaptations as the most crucial element to understanding human sexuality and desire. According to this argument, the key to understanding human sexuality lies in the evolutionary origin of our species.