Conclusion

Sorry for the late post I completely forgot we had to do a conclusion, but anyway…

Finishing my research and paper I found the theory of sexual selection was heavily criticized from its origin due to misunderstandings of its mechanisms (especially mate choice) that stemmed sexism (male biologists didn’t like the suggestion that females chose their mate by judging the males). Due to this sexual selection was never considered as an explanation for behaviors that seemed counterproductive for survival. Behaviors such as sports, art, and large-game hunting (seem during prehistoric times as an altruistic activity as the meat was shared among the tribe) can generally be best described as sexually selected behaviors (hunting is kinda both) as they benefit reproductive efforts more than they benefit survival efforts. What is confusing is that these behaviors begin to appear before sexual maturity and continue even after mating occurs. Why?  There is plenty of correlational evidence that shows happiness is derived by engaging in these activities.  I argue that happiness works to motivate individuals to engage in these behaviors which leads them to become talented enough to draw in a mate. I admit causational studies, which is hard to design and enact for this question, are needed to solidify this argument. Another possible reason for early and continued engagement in these activities could be Zahavi’s concept of “social prestige” where animals engage in actions that seem unnecessary or detrimental in order to earn themselves respect within their group which also brings about the respect of the potential mates in the group.

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Progress Post #2: Finishing the Research

At this point, I have finished all my research and formulated a thesis for my paper. I will argue that making and viewing art, participating in sports, and large-game hunting are all sexually selected behaviors in humans and that happiness increases when humans engage in these behaviors to ensure that reproduction occurs and genetic information is passed on. My next post will be during my paper writing process. I explained how I would establish that these actions are sexually selected in my last post. In this post, I will explain my research which will help me establish that these behaviors increase happiness.

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Progress Post #1: Defining Sexual Selection and Establishing its Importance in Human Development

At this stage in my project, I have finished most of my biological research. I’m currently researching the psychological side of my literature review. I will post my second post after I have finished all the research and have an outline set in stone. Finding scientific articles online has been difficult but having books like the Mating Mind by Geoffery Miller has not only given me basic background on the subject but helped me narrow my search topics to find better results. It has also given me the names of people working in my area of interest.  For this post, I will include a rough outline based on the information I am currently working with.

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The Effect of Sexual Selection on Mental Health and Happiness in Humans

For my research I will be writing a literature review on the effect of high-risk sexually-motivated behaviors on happiness and mental health in human males. Behaviors such as alcohol consumption, self-deprecating humor and shows of athleticism have historically been found attractive in a male mate and thus have been sexually selected for. These traits, regardless of whether they have a heritable aspect or are learned, lead to increased reproductive fitness for the male. I am interested in examining whether these prevalent behaviors which are known to have negative effects mental health are compensated for by the mental health benefits of spousal and social relationships.  For example, substance-abuse habits formed while trying to impress a potential mate could possibly trigger an depressive episode. On the other hand, having a rich social and romantic life is widely known to increase happiness. Through this work I am trying to gain a greater insight into how biological pressures such as sexual reproduction can create social norms that affect happiness and mental health. I hope to reach a conclusion on whether extreme behaviors performed to increase sexual fitness have a net negative or net positive impact on happiness and potentially mental health issues.