is in Darwin's theory of sexual selection--selection for
enhancing mate competition. As an anthropologist, I study how it
affects human morphology and behavior. To this end, the classic main
goals of sexual selection research are mine:
1. Explaining the
existence of secondary sexual traits.
Secondary sexual traits develop at puberty, but don't directly function
in reproduction--like men's deep voices, beards, and chest hair. What
are they for? Darwin
noticed they tended to fall into
two categories: armaments (weaponry for aggressive contests)
ornaments (for attracting mates). Researchers have since
identified a number of additional ways of competing over
scramble competition, sperm competition and mate guarding, endurance
rivalry, and coercion. The goal is to understand which of
these mechanisms of sexual selection is responsible for a
particular secondary sexual trait. That is, to understand how that trait
affects mating competition. I have begun to examine the function of
men's beards and robust facial morphology.
2. Identifying (and
explaining) the forms and consequences of competition over mates.
Here, the goal is to understand how and why people vary in the ways
they compete over mates. My dissertation addresses a piece of this
question--how imbalances in the adult sex ratio affect the intensity
and kind of mate competition.