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Evolutionary psychologists do it with blinders on


photo:gniliep

Evolutionary psychology can be so annoying sometimes. Like when it tries to explain women’s modern-day preference for pink as some left-over instinct from hunter-gatherer days when they needed to be good at gathering berries, completely disregarding the fact that in the early 1900s pink was the color of choice for little boys and blue for little girls. And how many times have you heard that men are promiscuous because of their endless supply of sperm while women are selective because of the limited number of number of children they can squeeze out a uterus in a lifetime (though Mrs. Duggar might beg to differ) — how many cheating husbands have used that excuse? See: annoying.

But one new study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (and reviewed by LiveScience.com’s Science of Sex column) suggests that things might not be that simple. It looked at data on 18 populations worldwide and found that in some cultures both men AND women conceive children with multiple partners, and in populations where there’s a lot of selection (like in cities) both women AND men will be selective about mates (while in low-pop areas they’ll both take what they can get).

It was really just this quote from Gillian R. Brown, the study’s lead researcher, that reminded us we all shouldn’t be so quick to let circular boys-will-be-boys logic and sugar-n-spice theories determine or justify our romantic behavior:

Males and females should perhaps not be characterized in the way normally presented by evolutionary psychologists … the idea that we can predict everything about human sex roles on the basis of the differential costs of producing eggs and sperm is simplistic.

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