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28 - Are Humans Peacocks or Robins?

from Part VII - Sexual Selection and Human Sex Differences

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2020

Lance Workman
University of South Wales
Will Reader
Sheffield Hallam University
Jerome H. Barkow
Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
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Sociobiological approaches have made great inroads into psychological science over the last few decades. This has not come without a fight. One of the main fronts on which the battle has been fought is the origins of human sex differences. Evolutionary psychologists have made a strong case that many basic sex differences in our species have an evolutionary origin; the case is now so strong, in fact, that it seems unreasonable to deny a significant evolutionary contribution. A question mark remains, however, over the relative magnitude of the evolved differences. Are we highly dimorphic, polygynous animals like peacocks? Or are we relatively monomorphic, pair-bonding animals like robins? In this chapter, I argue that we are closer to the latter than the former – a fact that makes us somewhat anomalous among the animals. In many species, the males alone compete for mates and the females alone choose from among the males on offer.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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