Human Adaptations for Mating: Frameworks for Understanding Patterns of Family Formation and Fertility

  • Steven W. Gangestad
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI)


Reproductive and mating systems vary substantially across modern and traditional human societies. A variety of conceptual tools may be required to explain this variation. This chapter discusses an explanatory framework based on the notion of evoked culture. Evoked cultural differences emerge when behavioral expression of an adaptation is contingent on environmental conditions, such that the behavior of groups exposed to different conditions consequently differs. This chapter has a number of components. First, it offers a brief primer of adaptationist concepts and methodologies within evolutionary biology. Second, it discusses how these methodologies have been used to infer particular adaptations underlying human mating. Third, it examines how some adaptations may have been shaped by selection to be expressed contingently, giving rise to variation. Finally, limitations and potentially useful applications of the evoked culture concept (e.g., illustrated by effects of the contraceptive pill on women’s mate choice) are discussed.


Major Histocompatibility Complex Human Mating Paternal Care Mating Market Male Care 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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