Individual psychological factors that influence mate choice must play out in the context of dyadic interaction, and those dyadic interactions unfold within a broader cultural context. The variations across individuals, dyads, and cultures are in turn affected by the preferences and proclivities inherited from ancestral humans, shaped by ecological forces common to all members of this particular species of social mammal. Thus, mate selection can be understood at several different, yet inter-connected, levels of analysis.
The broader ecological factors discussed earlier provide a good example. Cultural variations in mate choice are not completely random, but often fit with general principles applicable to many animal species (Crook and Crook 1988; Daly and Wilson 1983). For example, polyandry is more common when the males are brothers in humans and other animals, in keeping with the general principle of inclusive fitness. Polygyny is more common than polyandry in humans and other mammals, as is the female preference for high status males, consistent with principles of differential parental investment (female mammals have less to gain from taking additional mates, so will demand more in a mate). Mate selection thus offers insight into fundamental questions about human nature and its interaction with human culture.
See also: ATTACHMENT: COUPLE RELATIONSHIPS; ATTRACTION; BRIDE-PRICE; COHABITATION; DATING; DOWRY; FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION; HUSBAND; LOVE; MARRIAGE CEREMONIES; MARRIAGE, DEFINITION OF; MARRIAGE PREPARATION; MARRIAGE SQUEEZE; RELATIONSHIP INITIATION; WIFE
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DOUGLAS T. KENRICK