6. Mate Choice
- According to the recent evolutionary theory, males and females have been selected for different kinds of mate preferences as behavioral adaptations in our ancestral past. These psychological algorithms, on the other hand, are open to ecological/cultural changes in the contemporary societies and, as a consequence, there are permanent trade-offs between the possible behavioral outputs in mate choice. Using 1000 lonely heart advertisements, we made an attempt to provide a detailed analysis of traits males and females offer and demand in the "bargaining" of reproductive values (Bereczkei et al. 1997). Striking differences between the sexes have been found in many of the measured 42 traits associated with physical attractiveness, financial condition, occupational status, domestic virtues, length of relationship, and marital status. We have revealed not only that females were more likely than males to prefer resources in mates, even not only that females offering cues of physical attractiveness made higher demands than those who did not, but the better physical conditions the females offered, the higher financial and occupational status they required in potential mates. Similarly, males increased their reproductive success through choosing females of the greatest reproductive value: the more resources they had, the higher demands they made about the potential partners' physical attractiveness. Surprisingly, women valued traits associated with family commitment of potential partners more than cues of resources, which is regarded as an adaptive answer to a particular cultural condition. A remarkable trade-off in males between direct and indirect way of paternal investment has been found; the less resources they had, the more traits indicating domestic virtue they offered. Contrary to cultural powerlessness hypothesis, women with higher status valued resources in mates even more than lower-ranked women. Males seeking short-term mates demanded physical attractiveness more, and females seeking short-term mates preferred mates with many resources, compared to those pursuing long-term mating. In the context of long-term mating, both sexes placed a greater emphasis on cues of family commitment rather than on those of resources and physical condition. Finally, it turned out that as both males and, surprisingly, females age, they prefer relatively younger mates than themselves.
- Another study has revealed that evolved mating preferences may be adaptive – may increase individual fitness – not only in the traditional cultures but even in the “modern” societies that have passed on demographic transition. The reproductive consequences of mate choice were found adaptive in a large Hungarian sample: females who married higher status men, and males who chose younger mates had significantly more surviving children than those following alternative mating strategies (Bereczkei and Csanaky 1996). The link between mating preferences and reproductive output may be mediated by marital success as a proximate mechanism. Couples whose wives were younger and/or less educated and whose husbands were older and/or more educated stayed together for a longer period of time than other couples. Similarly, the age and educational differences between spouses were associated with marriage quality.
- We have been pursuing a research program that is focusing on the role of humour and laughing in mate choice (Tisljar and Bereczkei 2005). Some aspects of humor can be interpreted as a product of natural selection for survival. Other features of humor could have evolved through sexual selection, and may function as courtship tools in the mating process. An experimental paradigm has been set up to test specific hypotheses concerning the role of humor in the context of short-term and long-term relationships and the differences between sexes in this respect.
- Bereczkei T. Evolúciós pszichológia. Osiris Kiadó, Bp., 2003.
- Roland Tisljar and Tamas Bereczkei (2005) An evolutionary interpretation of humor and laughter. Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology 2-3.
- Vörös Sz., Bereczkei, T. , Bernáth L., és Gál Á. Adaptív döntések és mechanizmusok a párválasztásban. In: Az evolúciós szemlélet napjaink pszichológiájában, Szerk. Pléh Cs., Csányi V., és Bereczkei T., Osiris, Budapest, 2001
- Csanaky A. és Bereczkei T. A szocializáció evolúciós pályái: az apa nélkül felnövő kamaszok és felnőttek viselkdésének fejlődése. In: Az evolúciós szemlélet napjaink pszichológiájában, Szerk. Pléh Cs., Csányi V., és Bereczkei T. Osiris, Budapest, 2001
- Bereczkei T.: Szimmetria, párválasztás, szaporodás - Új perspektívák az evolúciós pszichológiában. In: Szimmetria, asszimetria II. Szerk. Balogh T. és Gévay G. MTA Szeged 1999. 49-65.
- Bereczkei T. (2000) Evolutionary psychology: A new perspective in the behavioral sciences. European Psychologist 5: 459-481.
- Manning, J. T., Barley, J., Walton, D.,… Bereczkei, T. (2000) The 2nd:4th digit ratio, sexual dimorphism, population differences, and reproductive success: Evidence for sexually antagonistic genes? Evolution and Human Behavior 21: 163-183.
- Bereczkei T., Vörös Sz., Gál Á., és Bernáth L. Adaptív algoritmusok és reproduktív döntések az emberi párválasztásban. Magyar Pszichológiai Szemle 54: 523-550, 1999.
- Bereczkei, T., Voros, A., Gal, A., and Bernath, L. (1997) Resources, attractiveness, family commitment; Reproductive decisions in mate choice. Ethology 103: 681-699.
- Bereczkei, T. and Csanaky, A (1996) Mate choice, marital success, and reproduction in a modern society. Ethology and Sociobiology 17: 23-45.
- Tisljár R. és Bereczkei T. (2008) A humor szerepe a párválasztásban – egy evolúciós modell. XVIII. Pszichológiai Nagygyűlés, Nyíregyháza.