Tag Archives: status

Sexual differences: mating behavior in high status and low status males

From the Guardian:

There is a large body of primate research on the evolutionary origins of aggressive male sexual jealousy, covering the strategies of rape, harassment, intimidation and monopolisation of time – referred to as “mate guarding”. Males usually behave in these sexually coercive ways around fertile females they want to impregnate. These strategies can be observed in all ape species, but less so among gorillas, who live in harems with a dominant silverback male. Sexually aggressive male behaviour has evolved as an adaptation to living in multi-male, multi-female societies where there is a lot of choice in mating opportunities but also a lot of sexual rivalry.

These sorts of sexually aggressive male behaviours are more often exhibited by low-status males. High-status males who have repeatedly shown kindness, and are high status due to their mix of good genes for intelligence and physical stamina, are more likely to have females soliciting them for sex rather than their having to harass or rape in order to mate.

The article cites this article from Animal Behavior. Here is the abstract:

In a wide range of animal species, males coerce females to mate with them, either by physically forcing them to mate, by harassing them until they mate or by punishing persistent refusal to mate. The first section of this paper argues that the possibility of forced copulation can generate arms races between males and females that may have substantial costs to both sexes. In the second section, it is suggested that sexual harassment commonly represents a ‘war of attrition’ between the sexes; existing game theory models that may apply to sexual conflict over mating decisions are reviewed. The third section develops a simple prospective model for the evolution of intimidation by punishment in situations where males can raise the probability that females will accept their advances in future by punishing them for refusal to mate. Where the benefits of sexual coercion to males are high, all three male strategies may develop to a point where they have substantial costs to females. In the final section, evidence that female behaviour is adapted to minimizing these costs is reviewed.

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