Toward an Evolutionary History of Female Sociosexual Variation


  • The authors extend thanks to Jeff Long, Cindy Thomsen, Randy Thornhill, and Wendy Wood for their invaluable suggestions and comments concerning ideas presented in this article Thanks also to Cathy Peterson and Mohammad Shaffeipour for their assistance with the empirical phases of this research.

should be addressed to Steven W Gangestad, Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, or Jeffry A Simpson, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843


ABSTRACT Considerable progress has been made in behavioral genetics toward providing theoretical accounts of individual differences One theoretical task, however, has been largely neglected—that of constructing evolutionary accounts of behaviorally relevant genetic variance We attempt to address this task with respect to the genetic variance underlying sociosexuality, that is, the differences in the implicit prerequisites (in terms of time, attachment, commitment, etc) to entering a sexual relationship Specifically, we argue that genetic variance on this trait for females could have been maintained through frequency-dependent selection In our evolutionary past, restricted females-those who require relatively more time, attachment, and commitment-could have benefited through paternal investment in their offspring Unrestricted females—those who require relatively less time, attachment, and commitment—could have benefited through the quality of their mate's genes passed on to their sons Moreover, the value of these alternate „strategies” could have been frequency-dependent One prediction that follows from this evolutionary history is tested and supported in three studies Those females genetically predisposed to be unrestricted are found to produce relatively more sons than females predisposed to be restricted Additional predictions are offered and alternative accounts are discussed