Integrating Social Exchange and Sexual Selection Theory in the Study of Mating Interactions

Charles Crawford and Catherine A. Salmon

in The Oxford Handbook of Sexual Conflict in Humans

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Integrating Social Exchange and Sexual Selection Theory in the Study of Mating Interactions

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Much writing on sexual conflict in both animals and humans is done in the context of Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. There is considerable conflict in male–female reproductive relationships, and sexual selection theory is very useful in understanding it. However, there is also much cooperation, such as that seen in family functioning that has its basis in reproductive relationships. In this chapter we attempt to integrate thinking about sexual selection and reciprocity to provide a more comprehensive view of human mating and family interactions. We first distinguish among cooperative mating, male exploitative mating, female exploitative mating, and detrimental mating in reproductive interactions. We argue that most mating interactions are cooperative, and we use Trivers’s (1971, 1985) notions of parental investment and gross and subtle cheating on reciprocal reproductive interactions to develop both heuristic selection and psychological models of cooperation in human reproductive interactions. Our focus is on integrating the evolutionary psychology of cooperation and sexual selection in an attempt to develop a more inclusive model of human intimate and reproductive interrelations.

Keywords: mating; social exchange; coercion; cooperation

Article.  11270 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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