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Evolutionary Psychology Critique
Although the evolutionary psychological theory has received acclaim from many scholars,
it still faces many criticisms. The evolutionary psychological theory indicates that men and women
developed specific adaptations for mating and selection of a partner depending with the physical
and as well as the environmental pressures. Other theorists refute this standpoint, especially the
social structural theorists who argue that the human mating and partner selection is influenced by
social phenomena. This paper presents critique of the evolutionary psychology theory as it related
to mating and partner selection in humans.
Main ideas of the standard evolutionary psychology theory
One of the main ideas, as put forward by the evolutionary theory, is optimal reproductive
strategy for females be choosy to look for one partner (class notes, 2/18/2019). This notion is
wrong and is not clearly represented in the current capitalistic world. Many female individuals
tend to select a mating partner based on the external factors pushing them rather than the
genetically precondition that they should stay non-promiscuous. This is confirmed by Buss (1989),
who cites Triver’s theory that found that the women, who typically invest more in the child rearing,
have a more challenging task in selecting a mate. This makes their selection of a partner more strict
Another core idea put forward by the evolutionary theorists is that males should have
optimal reproductive strategy to looking for partners who are fertile (class notes, 2/18/2019). This
is another core misconception that has been openly discredited by the emergence of many gay
individuals in the society. This is indicative that humans do not engage in behavioral decisions
based on genetically wired decision paths. According to Buss (1989), male by virtue of investing
less in the parenting life tend to only look out for fertile women. They tend not to be choosy when
selecting a partner. However, it is noteworthy that Buss notes that some communities exhibit
equality in the caring of offspring and thus there is exhibit of scrutiny when selecting a mate for
both men and women (Buss, 1989). Another core underpinning of this theory is that the paleo life
promotes social evolution (class notes, 2/18/2019).
According to the evolutionary psychology theory, men and women have experienced
different pressures from both internal thoughts and external influences since the start of the world,
which then influenced these genders to adapt or develop certain mechanisms to survive (de Waal,
2002). The theory argues that the differing reproductive capabilities and status of men and women
is the core factor that determined how mating and partner selection was done (Begley, 2009). The
different social roles of both men and women also influenced their adaptations to survive. The
theory indicates that women have naturally developed to invest more in the reproduction and
caring of offspring, whereas men have developed to care less about caring for offspring but rather
provide for their families. According to the theory, this hard-wired understanding from Paleo times
has challenged men and women to device mechanisms to survive in the competitive mating world
(Begley, 2009). Men look out for women that can care well for the young ones, whereas women
tend to look for financially stable men who can provide for their offspring.
The theory presents the evolution account of human behavior and preferences when it comes
to mating and partner-selection for both men and women (de Waal, 2002). The theory takes a
Darwinian approach to explain human behavior. The author puts forward that the theory
emphasizes on how genetics plays a role in human behavior and it is probable that the genetic code
related with partner selection and mating evolved over time to give a consistent trend in these
behavior among both gender (de Waal, 2002). The theorist however admits that there is no known
correlation between the success rate of transferability of the behavior genes and the expression of
the genes in the offspring. Hrdy (1998) gives the example of the Hamadryas baboons, whose males
had to compete for females leading to only big and well-built males accessing the females. This
scenario led to a situation where females also preferred larger males. This genetic makeup is then
enshrined in the behavior of the members of the baboon family, just like it is the case with humans.
Criticism of the evolutionary psychology theory
Traits being assumed adaptive
This section of the paper will criticize the evolutionary psychological theory based on the
element of traits being assumed adaptive. Behavior and traits being adaptive means that any
individual in the society is capable of showing certain behavior and is not guided by genetics.
According to class notes (2/18/2019), both men and women have adapted differently such that
there are equally many promiscuous women as there are men and the trait is not genetically wired
to represent among men alone. The class notes (2/18/2019)also indicate that largely, being faithful
among men could be stated to be genetically enabled as opposed to promiscuity; in some instances,
promiscuity among women turn out to be very beneficial to women and their offspring. This means
that humans do not make their mating choices based on hard-wired genetic codes but other
influencers in the society. The issue of benefits of paternity uncertainty for offspring as cited by
Hrdy (1999) also helps to ground this argument against the evolutionary theory. In addition to this,
the classic fruit fly study results selectively cited by Bateman (1948) conform that genetic makeup
does not influence mating decisions.
Another core criticism to the evolutionary theory is the fact that it has been proven that men
can avoid being promiscuous just like women, and it has many advantages to them (class notes,
2/18/2019). The fact that most men today are Christians and do not engage in promiscuity indicates
that social selections and behavior among humans is not shaped by genetic makeup but by other
external factors. The issue of One hundred babies as cited by Fine (2017) also helps to extrapolate
on this issue. The Dogon people of Mail also put it straight that promiscuity among women is not
a thing of the past, but has become currently a billion dollar industry (Hrdy, 1999). This is an
indicator that people are pushed to make mating decisions based on social pressures.
Misconceptions about paleo life
This section of the paper will criticize the evolutionary theory on the misconceptions it has
about paleo life. According to class notes (2/18/2019), there was no single paleo lifestyle. One
thing that can confirm this is the fact that some scholars believe that hunting was the major source
of livelihood during the Paleo times, whereas actually gathering was the major source of livelihood.
Zuk (2013) confirms this by indicating that most resources were provided through male hunting,
but female gathering was probably the primary source of food. Another issue is that Coall &
Hertwig (2011) indicate that grandmothers were an important resource for child survival, behavior,
and cognitive development. This indicates that most children received coaching from their
grandmothers when their mothers were away. This notion of the family life and structure does not
tally with today’s development and structure of the family. This is indicative that the concept of
genetic evolution to influence mating and gender roles behavior does not hold.
In addition, class notes (2/18/2019) confirm that child rearing has occurred in extended
families and entire communities in the past. This is unlike modern times where child rearing is a
family unit affair. This transformation of the family life and family structure indicates that the
evolutionary theory of mating and partner selection does not hold to predict human behavior on
this issue. Class notes (2/18/2019) also add that extended families arranged marriages. This is a
historical fact in many communities and regions worldwide, and thus discredits the evolutionary
stand that paleo partner selection mechanisms have been transferred to the current generation.
Apart from that, there is need to note that since Paleo times, the nuclear family was the basic
institution of child rearing, but in recent times, it has strictly become a nuclear family affair as
compared to the past (Caporael & Brewer, 1995). This shift in household structuring and social
life indicates that no social trends are transferred from the past, but rather individuals adapt to new
trends and needs, or pressures.
Own informed opinions, insights and original examples
From the evaluation, my main opinion is that the evolutionary theory fails to answer basic
questions surrounding human behavior regarding mating and mate selection. This ultimately
discredits it as a reliable theory in explaining human behavior regarding mating. One considerable
example is the case of prostitutes, most of whom are young girls pushed to the vice by financial
circumstances. The issue of prostitutes in the various cities around the world indicates that the
issue of non-promiscuity of women does not hold for the case of the theory. The idea that financial
challenges push women to make mating decisions also shows that decisions for mating are
influenced by environmental factors.
The most interesting and/or useful thing have learned in this course so far.
The most interesting thing I have learned in this course in that human behavior is ultimately
shaped by environmental circumstances and is not genetically engineered. This is because different
individuals face different circumstances, which cannot allow all their decisions to conform to
certain predetermined genetically engineered train of thoughts. This information was useful for me
that it helped me understand why different humans make the decisions they make in regard to
mating and partner selection. This information will also be a guide to me when seeking a life
Thanks for letting me read your Psychology of Gender essay. I very much enjoyed learning more
about the standard evolutionary psychology theory of sex differences in human mating, and the
criticisms that you found most contrary. I noted some grammar and vocab errors in the essay, but
overall you did well in this area! I would encourage you to focus on connecting your ideas
together between sections, as well as within sections. Below I mention 3 main revisions that I
would recommend focusing on as you work back through your essay:
Explanation of Theory: I would recommend that you reformat the section where you
explain the standard evolutionary theory. First, explain broadly what this theory is, and
what it supports. Then explain the various parts of the theory, which is where you can
also provide examples. Make sure that this explanation flows cohesively, and that
examples are only brought up after the explanation. Right now, the examples and
explanations are intermixed, so it is somewhat confusing to recognize which part is the
theory and which part is an example. By reorganizing, this can be avoided, and you can
also ensure that your knowledge of the theory is being shown to Professor Nelson.
Criticism Sections: The criticism sections are worth the most points (24), so I will
describe various recommendations that I have for you in these sections. Firstly, make
sure that you always describe a criticism thoroughly before providing an example of it.
Without a thorough explanation of the criticism, it’s hard to follow the line of reasoning
with examples. After describing the criticism, bringing up examples is a great way to
illustrate the criticism more specifically. After explaining the examples, make sure to not
only provide research evidence supporting the criticism, but explicitly state how the two
relate and why this research supports the criticism. I noted a specific example of needing
to draw this connection on page 4 in criticism one. Stating how the research supports the
criticism is the only way you can ensure your reader sees the connection.
Clarity: Overall, your grammar was accurate. I would focus on ensuring consistency
when referencing plurals versus singulars in nouns, subjects, and verbs. Otherwise, there
were just a few sentences that I didn’t understand, including the first paragraph under
criticism one, and the last paragraph under criticism two. The other broad area I would
work on is transitioning between sections. Even though they are separated by headers,
you should still have transition sentences which flow the reader from section to section
I would advise working on the 3 revisions mentioned above, and also reading your paper aloud
to yourself before turning it in (this helps to catch awkward phrasing). As a reminder, our
conference is planned for 3/13 at 11:00 at High Ground. If you have any questions about my
marginal comments, or any of my comments above, please email me!
Psychology of Gender: Take-Home Essay Exam 1 (50 points)
Your answers should be based on information from the readings and information from class.
1) Choose TWO of the following social experiences theories of gender differences:
Modeling and imitation
For each of the two theories you chose:
a. Describe thoroughly how that theory explains gender differences. (9 points per theory x 2 theories)
b. Present research evidence supporting that theory of gender differences. (10 points per theory x 2 theories)
Then, in a separate critical thinking section at the end of your essay: Include your own informed opinion, your
own insights, original examples, etc. (3 points)
Required structure: Intro, theory 1 part a, theory 1 part b, theory 2 part a, theory 2 part b, critical thinking
2) a. Explain the main ideas of the standard evolutionary psychology theory of sex differences in human mating.
b. Choose TWO of the following criticisms of that theory. For each of the two criticisms you chose: Explain
the criticism thoroughly, include at least one example illustrating the criticism, and provide research evidence
supporting the criticism. (12 points per criticism x 2 criticisms)
• Traits Buss assumes are adaptive for males can also be adaptive for females and vice versa.
• Sex differences in social status and power can explain sex differences in human mating equally well.
• Evolutionary psychologists have misconceptions about paleo life.
• Evolutionary psychologists have misconceptions about evolutionary processes.
Then, in a separate critical thinking section at the end of your essay: Include your own informed opinion, your
own insights, original examples, etc. (3 points)
Required structure: Intro, part a, part b criticism 1, part b criticism 2, critical thinking
For both question 1 and question 2:
Quality of writing overall—introduction, full sentences, paragraphs, clarity, organization, transitions (3 points)
Full participation in the writing fellow process, following instructions for turning in draft, etc. (5 points)
One more question: Don’t forget to answer this!
3) Describe the most interesting and/or useful thing you have learned in this course so far. Why was it
interesting and/or useful? (1 point– Graded on accuracy of statements, depth of thought)
ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS
• Your essay will not be accepted (grade = 0 points) if you do not turn in your Essay Plan as required.
• “Research evidence” means studies, empirical research. Describe the research; do not just mention it.
• Separate and label each section of your answer with a descriptive heading (e.g., “gender schemas
research,” “misconceptions about paleo life”).
• Define terms (but not with a dictionary!) and explain concepts.
• No quoting—this is an essay exam, not a research paper. (And of course, plagiarism is not allowed
either.) Explain in your own words so I can assess your understanding of concepts, theories, studies, etc.
• Your essay must focus on answering the question provided. Keep in mind that, however accurate or
well-written an essay may be, if it is not relevant to answering the question, it will not receive any credit.
The essay questions are designed to test your understanding of specific theories and the process of
scientifically testing gender psychology theories. If you do not focus your answer on the question, you
have not demonstrated that you understand the theory, the relevant evidence, and how they are
• Your essay should accurately present and integrate information from class and the readings. This is a
take-home essay exam, not a research paper. Show your knowledge of the information covered in class
and in the required readings, which should be the primary sources of information for your essay.
Cite sources within the essay in APA format—author name(s) and publication date or “class notes
(date)” or the name of a class handout. You do not need a references section at the end.
The responses to question 1 or 2 should be approximately 5-6 pages. The guideline is approximate
because the actual space needed to answer each question will depend on an individual student’s writing
style, font size, margin size, etc. There is no maximum page length as long as you stay on topic.
See the “Exams” page in the Pages section of the course ICON site for a general guide to grading.
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