Why good girls like bad guys—Does evolution explain?

meet the parents
Image via seriously-maybe.com

A woman’s parents are generally choosier about her mates than she is—a fact that can be a source of great family conflict.

This phenomenon is so common—showing up in wide array of disparate cultures— that researchers Piet van den Berg and Tim W. Fawcett, believe it must be a product of human evolution. In a New York Times op-ed piece they describe a specific model of natural selection, which was published earlier this year in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, that would explain why parents may be more discerning than their daughters regarding her potential mates.

Drawing on classic Darwinian theory, it’s believed that parents have the evolutionary incentive to distribute their resources among their children in a way that ensures the maximum number of grandchildren, begotten from any of their children, survive. In contrast, each individual child has the incentive to secure more than his or her fair share of parental resources to ensure the survival of their own offspring over those of their siblings.

Van den Berg and Fawcett created a simulation of male and female populations from which individuals pair up to produce kids. The virtual women have genetic traits that make them more or less selective in choosing a male that is a good provider. As parents, the simulated couples choose how to provide resources to their children and some have a genetic trait that makes them interfere in a pairing.

Over a series of simulated generations parents give more resources to daughters paired with poor providers and a familiar pattern emerges: Women evolve to be less choosey and more likely to select a poor provider. This is because Mom and Dad will help out with resources. At the same time, parents evolve to interfere more if they think the mate is a poor provider. This is so that their resources can be more evenly distributed among their children.

The research and conclusions of course remain controversial, as is the entire field of evolutionary psychology.

Read the full, original story here: Evolution and Bad Boyfriends

Additional Resources:

Parents just don’t understand: parent-offspring conflict over mate choice, Evolutionary Psychology

Why Parents Think Your Partner Isn’t Good EnoughScience Daily

Evolution May Explain Why Parents Kids Clash Over Mate Choice, Psych Central

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend