The presence of shifts in sexual preferences among women may generate debate, but shifts in sexual preferences and behavior are well documented in mammals as diverse as rats and orangutans. For example, female chimpanzees are known to prefer to have sex with different males within the fertile phrase than they prefer outside of this phase a strategy thought to improve their offspring's chances of survival.
"Until the past decade, we all accepted this notion that human female sexuality was radically different from sexuality in all of these other animal species that, unlike other species, human female sexuality was somehow walled off from reproductive hormones," Haselton said. "Then a set of studies emerged that challenged conventional wisdom."
One hypothesis for why a mate preference shift occurs is that it may be an evolutionary adaptation that served our ancestors' reproductive interests long before modern medicine, nutrition and sanitation dramatically reduced infant and child mortality rates.
"Under this hypothesis, women who preferred these characteristics were more likely to pass on beneficial genetic qualities to their children, thereby enhancing their children's chances of survival and reproductive success," Gildersleeve said.
In her past work, Haselton also has proposed the hypothesis that being torn between two types of mates may reflect powerful underlying adaptations. According to this "dual mating hypothesis," in certain circumstances, ancestral women would have been driven to pursue kindness, reliability and resources (so-called "goo
|Contact: Meg Sullivan|
University of California - Los Angeles