What is OpenPSYC?

OpenPSYC is a free online resource for students in Introduction to Psychology courses. Use the links on the right to learn more about the site, visit a course module or search by keyword.

Biosocial sex

From a biosocial point of view, the fittest survive and reproduce. Survival concerns, more than anything else, obtaining food and avoiding threats (e.g., predators and the environment). As the theory goes, that is the process of natural selection: those with the genes that make them successful at survival are the ones that create the next generation of survivors.

But what determines whether an individual creature will be successful at reproducing? With sexual reproduction, the offspring is comprised of ½ the genetic material of one parent and ½ of the other. It makes sense, then, that creatures would be motivated to find good genes to mix with their own. Thus, certain traits and preferences have evolved via sexual selection: those with the genes that make them successful at attracting a mate are the ones that create the next generation of attractive creatures.

In some cases it makes perfect sense to suggest that the traits that directly signal fitness would also be the ones that are sexually selected. But in other cases, it may seem quite arbitrary, or it might even be that what is sexy actually makes it harder to survive. For a classic example of this, read about the peacock:


Now read about the sociobiological explanation of why mates choose each other.  Most of the learning objectives for this section come from this article:

Read: Human Mating Strategies (https://umd.box.com/v/buss)