Costly signal behaviour and social effects of literature on mate selection
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In this study we will investigate female mate preferences in relation to risk taking behaviours. A review of the foundational evolutionary psychology theories involved shall be undertaken, this will look at the key study in each area and its progression with more contemporary examples. This study is based on the 2005 study by Farthing: Attitudes towards heroic and non heroic physical risk takers as mates and friends, where it was found that females prefer heroic risk takers to other categories of risk takers. A new fiction reading questionnaire was used to asses the reading patterns of our female volunteers. It is suggested that the heroic male has become ingrained in society and literature, and that there may be some link with the representation of male characters in literature and evolutionary mechanisms designed to facilitate mate selection. We hypothesize that females who read romantic fiction, which presents the male ideal of heroism in terms of long term mates, will find males in the heroic risk taking category more attractive than participants who read other genres. The hypothesis that women prefered heroic risk takers to non-heroic or drug risk takers was supported with a mean heroic score of 21.56, a non-heroic score of -4.06 and a drug risk taking score of -8.08; these effects were found to be very large. No effect was found for genre of fiction read by participants. However there was an effect found for the volume of fiction read by participants; where heavy readers found heroic risk taking males more attractive than light reader. These results are discussed with reference to the past literature discussed in the literature review and introduction sections.