The evolution of human mating: trade-offs and strategic pluralism

Behav Brain Sci. 2000 Aug;23(4):573-87; discussion 587-644. doi: 10.1017/s0140525x0000337x.


During human evolutionary history, there were "trade-offs" between expending time and energy on child-rearing and mating, so both men and women evolved conditional mating strategies guided by cues signaling the circumstances. Many short-term matings might be successful for some men; others might try to find and keep a single mate, investing their effort in rearing her offspring. Recent evidence suggests that men with features signaling genetic benefits to offspring should be preferred by women as short-term mates, but there are trade-offs between a mate's genetic fitness and his willingness to help in child-rearing. It is these circumstances and the cues that signal them that underlie the variation in short- and long-term mating strategies between and within the sexes.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Smell / physiology