456/556, Questions to Ponder, June 3
Buss; Harris; Pennebaker

Note: It's probably easiest to read Buss before Harris.

1. Why is "survival of the fittest" not quite the same thing as natural selection? Can an organism be "fit" and still not pass along its genes? Can it be "un-fit" and still pass along genes? Try to think of examples.

2. How do traits get passed along (and potentially exaggerated) via sexual selection?

3. What is parental investment theory? What predictions can be derived from it? What predictions does parental investment theory make for humans?

4. What distinction is made among adaptions, byproducts, and noise?

5. Why does Buss think behavior is sometimes a misleading measure of what has evolved in terms of sexual desire?

6. Buss talks about shortterm and longterm sexual strategies - what's the difference? What are the problems that Buss says each sex must solve for shortterm mating? For longterm mating? Which sex shows greater similarity for short and longterm mating strategies?

7. Do evolutionary psychologists hope to find the same results across different cultures, or different results? Why? Why is cross-cultural research important for evolutionary models?

8. How might evolutionary psychology explain:

- Why is physical appearance so important in choosing sexual partners

- What is commonly seen as males' reluctance to commit in romantic relationships

9. What limitations does Harris see in previous studies of sex difference in jealousy? How does her study seek to correct them?

10. In what ways do the "forced choice" results in Harris's study inconsistent with the "jealousy as a specific innate module" model?

11. Why are explanations of behaviors that involve conscious thought not generally considered to be the result of evolutionary forces?

12. How do Harris's results for the forced choice scenario and people's actual experiences with infidelity differ? Why is collecting data about people's actual reactions to infidelity important?

13. What are the variables that affect opposite sex attractiveness in Pennebaker et al.'s study?

14. What was the procedure for the Pennebaker et al. study? Was it a true experiment (i.e., did the researchers manipulate the independent variable?)

15. What is an alternative hypothesis that might explain why people in bars appear more attractive over time? What could you do to try to rule this hypothesis out?

16. Why did Pennebaker et al. have participants rate the attractiveness of both genders, instead of just rating the gender they were romantically interested in?