Academic journal article Journal of Evolutionary Psychology

Risking Pregnancy for "Mr. Right": Unintended Pregnancy and Female Mating Preferences

Academic journal article Journal of Evolutionary Psychology

Risking Pregnancy for "Mr. Right": Unintended Pregnancy and Female Mating Preferences

Article excerpt

Abstract

Mate selection theory, specifically female mating preferences, was used to frame the issue of unintended pregnancy. Eight female mating characteristics: commitment, a partner's desire for home and family, physical attractiveness, ambition, good financial prospects, intelligence, physical fitness and health, and social status were hypothesized to be risk factors for women risking a pregnancy when these characteristics are displayed by a partner or potential partner. Risk to become pregnant was defined as, a female who does not use a birth control method, uses a method inconsistently, or does not require her partner to consistently use a birth control method

Mate Selection

The theory of mate selection, a component of evolved human sexuality, maintains there must be an advantage to a specific evolved behavior in order for it to have been crafted by natural selection (Buss, 1992, 1994, 2004; Gangestad & Thornhill, 2003; Palmer & Palmer, 2002; Shackelford & Larsen, 1999, Symons, 1995; Trivers, 1992; Wilson & Daly, 1992). As such, females who differentiated physical and behavioral characteristics in a mate, such as strength, intelligence, resources, cunning, and protective behavior, tended to increase their odds of survival, and potentially produced more offspring than females who did not consider a male's physical and or behavioral characteristics prior to mating (Ellis, 1992; Gangestad & Thornhill, 2003, p. 231; Shackelford & Larsen, 1999; Townsend & Wasserman, 1997).

In addition, mate selection theory (Buss & Schmitt, 1993), maintains that both males and females possess long-term and short-term mating strategies. A long-term mating strategy suggests that women prefer males that demonstrate characteristics such as love, long-term commitment, fidelity, attractiveness, resources, and health (Buss, 1992, 1994; Buss & Malamuth, 1996; Campbell, 2002). Men who exhibit cues of long-term investments are "rewarded" as they tend to attract more women, and therefore have a wider range of women from which to select.

Short-term strategies refer to casual or short-lived sexual contact. For the female, Palmer and Palmer state,

   [Short-term strategies] can be viewed as a sort of shopping
   around behavior. It allows her to assess a number of potential
   mates and to clarify more precisely, which characteristics
   are more important to her in a long-term mate. Furthermore, in
   the process she is able to hone her own skills for acquiring
   and keeping a mate (2000, p. 112).

For the male, a short-term strategy increases reproductive successes (production of more offspring) with little or no investment compared to the female who has a nine-month investment. However, when males look for a long-term mate, they tend to look for females with high reproductive value (fertility cues), youth, health, physical beauty, as well as cues that suggest fidelity.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to explore evolved female mating preferences, when displayed by a partner or potential partner, as factors for risking pregnancy. This study expands on Buss' (1989) study by exploring mate preferences as risk factors for unintended pregnancy.

Hypothesis

Eight preferred female mating characteristics: (a) Commitment, (b) a partner's desire for Home and Family, (c) Physical Attractiveness, (d) Ambition, (e) Good financial prospects, (f) Intelligence, (g) Fitness and Health, and (h) Moderate to High Social Status (Buss, 1989, Greer & Buss, 1994) were hypothesized to be risk factors for women to become pregnant when these characteristics are displayed by a partner or potential partner. Risk to become pregnant was defined as, a female who does not use a birth control method, uses a method inconsistently, and or does not require her partner to consistently use a birth control method.

Method

Analysis

Frequency analysis was used to establish percentages, means, and standard deviation scores for each characteristic. …

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