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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Darwin (1871) observed in his theory of evolution by means of sexual selection that “it is the males who fight together and sedulously display their charms before the female” (p. 272). Researchers examining intrasexual competition have since focused disproportionately on male competition for mates, with female competition receiving far less attention. In this chapter, we review evidence that women do indeed compete with one another to secure and maintain reproductive benefits. We begin with an overview of the evolutionary theory of competition among women, with a focus on biparental care and individual differences in men’s mate value. We discuss why competition among women is characteristically different from that of men and highlight evidence supporting women’s use of epigamic display of physical attractiveness characteristics and indirect aggression toward same-sex peers and opposite-sex romantic partners as sexually competitive tactics. Finally, individual differences in competition among women are discussed.

Keywords: female competition, parental investment theory, sexual selection, indirect aggression, epigamic display

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