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Intrasexual competition is a central aspect of human mating. One factor that may affect the level of intrasexual competition and, in turn, the strategies people use to attract and secure potential romantic partners is the ratio of reproductively aged men to women in the local environment (i.e., the operational sex ratio). Findings from two experiments suggest that exposing people to different operational sex ratios influenced two key aspects of people's mating strategies. In Experiment 1, the amount of commitment people required before engaging in sex (i.e., their sociosexual orientation) was affected by whether they were presented with a favorable sex ratio (i.e., they were part of the minority sex) versus an unfavorable sex ratio (i.e., they were part of the majority sex). Exposure to a favorable sex ratio led men and women to strengthen the sociosexual orientation typically favored by their sex, relative to an unfavorable sex ratio, which led participants to shift in the direction of the orientation typically favored by the other sex. In Study 2, people displayed more aggression toward desirable same-sex rivals (but not less desirable targets) when they were presented with an unfavorable sex ratio compared to when they were presented with a favorable sex ratio. Findings suggest that people's mating strategies are adaptively calibrated to environmental contingencies within the local mating ecology.
evolutionary psychology, intrasexual aggression, sex ratio, sociosexual orientation
Date of Defense
April 8, 2015.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
E. Ashby Plant, Professor Directing Dissertation; Francis D. Fincham, University Representative; Roy F. Baumeister, Committee Member; James K. McNulty, Committee Member; Arielle A. Borovsky, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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