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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Human mating strategies: from past causes to present consequences

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In both humans and nonhuman animals, mating strategies represent a set of evolutionary adaptations aimed at promoting individual fitness by means of reproduction with the best possible partners. Given this critical role, mating strategies influence numerous aspects of human life. In particular, between‐sex divergence in the intensity of intrasexual competition could account for robust cross‐cultural sex differences in psychology and behavior (e.g., personality, psychiatric disorders, social behavior, violence). Several other factors (including individual differences, relationship type and environment) affect—in an evolutionarily consistent manner—variation in mating strategy that individuals pursue (as one example, awareness of one's own attractiveness impinges on mating standards). Here we provide an overview of relevant theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence on variation in mating strategies. Given its multifaceted nature and intense research interest over several decades, this is a challenging task, and we highlight areas where further investigation is warranted in order to achieve a clearer picture and resolve apparent inconsistencies. However, we suggest that addressing outstanding questions using a variety of different methodological approaches, a deeper understanding of the cognitive representations involved in mating strategies is within reach.

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Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition
Neuroscience > Behavior
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