According to evolutionary psychologists, sexual selection is the choice of characteristics to increase reproductive success. There are two forms of sexual selection; these are inter-sexual selection and intra sexual selection. Inter-sexual selection, also known as ‘mate choice’ is a behaviour seen between sexes to ensure reproductive success. In inter-sexual selection a mate is chosen due to the individual possessing a desired characteristic for reproduction, e.g. a male may pick a female partner with wide hips due to wide hips being associated with successive child birth and a female may pick a male partner with a well-paying job as the man will be able to provide for her offspring.
Intra-sexual selection is the competition within mates, usually males, to ensure that there are successful in passing on their genes for example, today this may involve men competing for a higher paid job in order to be resourceful to women.
These strategies of both inter-sexual reproduction and intra-sexual reproduction are all in order to enhance reproductive success which is defined as the ability and number of your offspring that are able survive and reproduce themselves.
According to evolutionary psychologists this process of sexual selection and desire of reproductive success has led to characteristics of reproductive behaviour seen today. For example, due to sexual selection and the desire to reproduce successfully men are more promiscuous as they strive to successfully pass on their genes. However women due to sexual selection and the desire to reproduce successfully are more careful when choosing a mate. This has been seen in recent research by Buss and Schmidt who found that men often lower their standards during short-term mating periods and find the mate to be less sexually attractive after mating.
A supporting study for the relationship of sexual selection in human reproductive behaviour comes from research carried out by Clarke and Hatfield (1989) who found differences in male and female responses when using confederates to ask random strangers whether they wanted to have casual sex. They found that when the confederate was female and she questioned males, 70% of males said yes, whereas when the confederate was male and he questioned females, 0% of females said yes.
This supports the role of sexual selection in human reproductive behaviour as it shows evidence of men being more carefree when choosing a mate and women being less carefree. However we must we cautious when using this study to support the role of sexual selection as the research used a sample of only undergraduates, therefore it can be argued that the undergraduates may only be facing short term relationships. This matters because it means the results cannot be generalised to a wider population or to long-term relationships. This suggests that more research must be carried out in order to fully support the role of sexual selection in human reproductive behaviour.
Another supporting study for the role of sexual selection in human reproductive behaviour comes from research carried out by Miller et al (2007) who found that the number of tips significantly increased when women where ovulating than went woman weren’t. This supports the role of sexual selection in reproduction behaviour as it provides evidence of men seeking and desiring the fertility of women. However we must be cautious when using this study to support this theory as although this study as supporting evidence, we cannot be sure that these results were purely due to the woman ovulating as this study was a natural study and other factors such as the woman’s mood that day or the wealth of the men at the time may also effect the results given. This suggests that an experiment controlling all variables must be carried out in order to support the role of sexual selection in human reproductive behaviour.
In conclusion, although this theory provides an adequate explanation of human reproductive behaviour with many supporting research such as Buss this theory can also be described as deterministic a it states that all men and woman possess these characteristics. Furthermore this theory does not consider other factors affect human reproductive behaviour such as social and environmental factors. Situations such as men who do not want to have children or women who neglect their children are best explained using these factors; therefore this suggests that an explanation considering both biological and social factors is better suited in explaining human reproductive behaviour.