UBC Theses and Dissertations
The mating/parenting trade-off : evidence and implications Beall, Alec T.
According to the biological principles of life history theory, there is a fundamental trade-off between mating effort and parenting effort. The five studies reported here (N = 3,439) tested two conceptually distinct ways in which that trade-off might manifest at a psychological level of analysis. Studies 1 and 2 focus on developmental processes and individual differences in the chronic activation of the mate acquisition and parenting motivational systems. Studies 3, 4, and 5 focus on temporary activation and inhibition of the mate acquisition and parenting motivational systems. The primary results of Study 1 (n = 305) suggest that men who express a greater desire to engage in short-term mating behavior have a less intense nurturant parental response to infants; Study 2 (n = 2252) revealed similar inverse relations, this time among both men and women (as well as parents and nonparents). Study 2 additionally noted a positive correlation between short-term mating orientation and chronic protective parental tendencies. Results from Study 3 (n = 92) indicate that the temporary arousal of a parental care-giving motivational state consequently inhibits self-reported inclinations toward short-term mating; this effect was only found in women. Results from Studies 4 (n = 308) and 5 (n = 482) suggest that temporary arousal of a mate acquisition motivational state consequently inhibits self-reported tender emotional responses towards infants. No consistent sex differences were noted in this latter result. Results of Study 5 additionally suggest that the temporary arousal of a disease- and predator-avoidance motivational states consequently inhibit self-reported nurturant emotional responses towards infants as well. No consistent sex differences were noted in these effects. Taken together, the present research yields results consistent with hypothesized psychological manifestations of the mating/parenting trade-off. But the present research also yields additional results that pose a challenge to these seemingly straightforward hypotheses, suggesting that a more nuanced approach must be taken to understand how the mating/parenting trade-off might manifest psychologically.
Item Citations and Data
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International