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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Life history theory (LHT) and sexual selection are two prominent and active areas of research in evolutionary biology and psychology. LHT attempts to explain how between- and within-species variation in maturational and reproductive patterns are structured by ecological conditions, whereas sexual selection attempts to explain between- and within-sex differences in intersexual mate choice and intrasexual competition for members of the opposite sex. These two expansive evolutionary theories have been used by developmental scientists and social-personality psychologists to explain the variation observed in human reproduction, including the timing of reproductive events across development as well as individual differences in psychological and behavioral orientation toward mating and parenting. Herein we propose that synthesizing these two approaches could lead to a more complete understanding of the development and expression of human reproductive strategies. To facilitate this synthesis, we review theory and research related to LHT and sexual selection in humans. We then show how integrating the principles of sexual selection with life history models of human reproductive strategies can address the major limitations of each perspective. Finally, we discuss unique propositions that emerge from this synthesis and review preliminary supporting evidence. This synthesis is needed to move the field toward a coherent "big picture" understanding of variation in human reproductive strategies.

Keywords: reproductive strategies, life history theory, sexual selection, intersexual mate choice, intrasexual competition, human reproduction

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