You are now familiar with how research from an evolutionary psychological perspective is conducted. It is now your turn- you get to propose a novel psychological mechanism! You will provide me with a ~2 page outline (not an essay) of your proposed mechanism. Be sure to provide a title for the proposed mechanism. Guidelines:
You will describe in your outline:
1) the adaptive problem that your proposed mechanism was designed to solve
2) why this was an important recurrent adaptive problem (e.g., outline the survival/reproductive costs of not solving the problem and the benefits of solving the problem)
3) who had to solve the adaptive problem (e.g., men, women, both, kids only, only those in warm climates, pregnant women, ovulating women, postmenopausal women)
4) how your proposed psychological mechanism helped solve the problem (discuss (a) the input information the mechanism will be sensitive to, (b) the evolved decision rules that will process the information, and (c) the output of the mechanism that will help solve the adaptive problem)
5) how one could test your hypothesis (i.e., how one could ethically and systematically collect data that bears upon the hypothesis). This is a difficult assignment. This assignment forces you to apply the knowledge youve acquired about our evolved psychology and about investigating our evolved psychology to a relatively unexplored and wholly original realm. Your scientific originality, creativity and deep comprehension of this course will be on full display. I. Adaptive Problem
Ancestral men and women pursued dual mating strategies (STM and LTM)
Discerning whether a dating partner was interested in pursuing a long-term committed relationship or in having casual sex was an adaptive problem
i.e., Tracking a dating partners commitment intentions II. Why Important?
Benefits to ancestors who solved problem:
knew how much to invest in their partner
knew how much to anticipate receiving from partner
knew whether to pursue / invest in other potential partners
Costs to ancestral men and women who underestimated partners commitment
under-allocating resources and needlessly terminating relationship
over-allocating resources and decreasing their mate value
Costs to ancestral men and women who overestimated partners commitment
asking for more resources than partner was willing to allocate
underestimating partners mate value and needlessly terminating relationship
Costs to ancestral men (only) who overestimated partners commitment
Costs to ancestral women (only) who overestimated partners commitment
having an unwanted or untimely pregnancy.
allocating sexual access too soon and incurring reputational damage III. Who Had to Solve this Problem?
Adult men and women
However, problem was more pressing for women
only women bear costs of pregnancy, which is extremely costly
ancestral men were more likely than women to feign commitment IV. Hypothesized Psychological Mechanism
A commitment tracking psychological mechanism
Purpose: to evaluate cues to partners commitment intentions
take in select information that is diagnostic of partners intentions
e.g., # of previous partners, whether introduced to family/friends, how quickly sexual access was initiated / allocated
weigh the collection of cues that indicate commitment vs. collection of cues that indicate a lack of commitment
evaluate the veracity of the cue: honest signal or feigned signal?
seek more information
pursue LTM relationship with partner pursue STM relationship with partner V. Testing Hypothesized Design Features
1. Survey of people in early dating relationships: Ask about hypothesized cues (# of previous partners of current partner, if/when they introd to family and friends, what sexual access has been granted, frequency of dates, frequency of communication. See if these predicts feelings of commitment, attraction as LTM, attraction as STM (in opposite direction).
2. Experiment: Compare people in early dating relationships to people in established committed relationships. Participants will be in one of two conditions: 1) imagine your partner invites you to their parents house to a BBQ with their family or 2) imagine your partner invites you to a city-wide park festival with games and BBQ, Participants will imagine and write down what either experience would be like. Then they respond to questions about commitment, LTM attraction, and STM attraction. Would predict that those in early relationships will feel more committed in the family scenario than the city-wide festival, but no difference in condition for those in established relationships.
3. Longitudinal study of people dating: Survey people monthly about hypothesized cues and relationship trajectory. Test if more likely to break up if cues arent present.
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