Comparative Evolutionary Psychology of Sperm Competition

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Abstract

A comparative evolutionary psychological perspective predicts that species that recurrently faced similar adaptive problems may have evolved similar psychological mechanisms to solve these problems. Sperm competition provides an arena in which to assess the heuristic value of such a comparative evolutionary perspective. The sperm competition that results from female infidelity and polyandry presents a similar class of adaptive problems for individuals across many species. The authors first describe mechanisms of sperm competition in insects and in birds. They suggest that the adaptive problems and evolved solutions in these species provide insight into human anatomy, physiology, psychology, and behavior. The authors then review recent theoretical and empirical arguments for the existence of sperm competition in humans and discuss proposed adaptations in humans that have analogs in insects or birds. The authors conclude by highlighting the heuristic value of a comparative evolutionary psychological approach in this field.

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