Männer opfern, um Frauen zu retten

Eine interessant Studie untersucht, wie unsere Moralentscheidungen durch evolutionäre Vorgaben geprägt sind:

Killing someone in order to save several lives seems more morally acceptable to men than to women. We suggest that this greater approbation of utilitarian killings may reflect gender differences in the tolerance to inflicting physical harm, which are partly the product of sexual selection. Based on this account, we predicted that men may be less utilitarian than women in other conditions. In four studies, we show that men are more likely than women to make the anti-utilitarian (hypothetical) choice of causing three same sex deaths to save one opposite sex life; and that this choice is more likely when there are fewer potential sexual partners, more likely for heterosexual men and less likely if the female character to be saved no longer has reproductive value.

Die Einführung in das Thema ist wie folgt:

Men and women do not always make the same moral choices. In particular, men are more likely to agree that killing someone can be morally acceptable provided that this death saves the lives of several other persons (Fumagalli et al. 2010; Lotto, Manfrinati, and Sarlo 2014; Youssef et al.2012). In other words, men seem to be more utilitarian than women, more accepting of inflicting harm for the purpose of a greater good.

To the best of our knowledge, this gender difference has only been observed in cases in which utilitarianism implies to harm, and its causes are yet to be discovered. In this article, we suggest that this greater male utilitarianism is only one specific consequence of broader differences in male and female intrasexual competition. The main strength of our account is to make new predictions about the moral dilemmas for which men will become less utilitarian than women to the point of becoming anti-utilitarian.

Our sexual selection account is based on three claims which we develop and reference below: (a) men have better reproductive prospects when the operational sex ratio (OSR) in the population is biased toward females; (b) men have a greater propensity than women to inflict violence upon their sexual rivals; and (c) the aversion to utilitarian killings derive in part from the aversion to inflict violence.

Both sexes need to attract high quality mates and to outcompete rivals, and their difficulty in doing so is affected by the OSR in their population. When the OSR is female biased (more females than males), men have enhanced mating prospects, and the reverse is true for populations with a male-biased OSR (Emlen and Oring 1977; Kruger and Schlemmer 2009; Pollet and Nettle 2008). Accordingly, men have an evolutionary interest in augmenting the ratio of fertile women to men.

The advantages of a male-biased sex ratio for women are not as clear, given the potential dangers caused by having too many men in a population (Schacht et al. 2014). The two sexes, in any case, do not possess the same adaptations for outcompeting rivals. Because the parental investment of women (e.g., pregnancy, childbirth, and child care) is largely greater than that of men (Trivers 1972), their death would result in a larger fitness cost (Sear and Mace 2008). In part, because of this greater potential fitness cost, women tend to compete primarily with physically low-risk strategies, such as derogating their rivals (Campbell 2013; Campbell and Cross 2012; Vaillancourt 2013). In contrast, direct physical competition appears to have been a primary mechanism of sexual selection in men (Archer 2009; Hill et al. 2013; McDonald, Navarrete, and Van Vugt 2012; Puts 2010). Accordingly, sexual selection may have prepared men for physical conflict, both through physical traits such as greater upper body strength and through psychological traits such as a lower aversion to inflicting harm (Sell, Hone, and Pound2012).

Das sind insoweit Vorüberlegungen aus der evolutionären Psychologie, die teilweise auf den „Kosten des Sex“ und auch auf anderen dort typischen Wertungen beruhen. So wollen sie daraus etwas herleiten:

Let us now apply this framework to utilitarian dilemmas starting with a bare bone dilemma which does not specify the gender of the potential victims: “Would you kill one person if it saved the lives of three other persons?” Given that one’s aversion to inflicting physical harm is known to predict one’s moral aversion to utilitarian killings (Wiech et al. 2013), we would expect men (the more physically aggressive sex) to give more utilitarian responses, and this is indeed what has been generally observed in the literature, in which the gender of the victims has not been systematically manipulated.1

The true strength of the sexual selection account, though, is to make novel predictions about gender differences in moral thinking for novel versions of this classic moral judgment vignettes. In particular, the sexual selection account predicts that men can be less utilitarian than women, or even anti-utilitarian (i.e., willing to kill several in order to save just one life), when specific conditions are met. More precisely, consider this genderized version of a sacrifice moral dilemma: The genderized sacrifice dilemma Given the choice, would you decide to cause the death of three members of your own sex, or to cause the death of one member of the opposite sex?
For men, the dilemma translates as: Would you rather cause the death of three men (saving one woman), or cause the death of one woman (saving three men)? For women, the dilemma translates as: Would you rather cause the death of three women (saving one man), or cause the death of one man (saving three women)?  The sexual selection account assumes that men are more prepared than women to eliminate sexual rivals by the infliction of physical harm, especially in situations such as that described in the dilemma, which pose no physical risk to themselves. Accordingly, we predict that men will make the anti-utilitarian decision to cause the death of three men (same sex rivals) and let one woman live in the genderized dilemma, whereas women will make the utilitarian choice of saving the three instead of the one.

In the rest of this article, we offer repeated evidence for this phenomenon, in online and offline studies, and we identify moderators and boundary conditions which are consistent with its sexual selection account. We reason that if male anti-utilitarianism in the genderized dilemma derives from sexual selection via intrasexual competition, then it should be especially strong in contexts where sexual resources are scarce (and intrasexual competition is fiercer Arnocky et al.2014). Furthermore, and for the same reason, we expect anti-utilitarianism to be lower for homosexual males and to disappear when the dilemma features a woman in their 50s, who no longer has reproductive value.


Die eigentlichen Tests waren dann wie folgt aufgebaut:

Kurz zur Durchführung und Anzahl der Teilnehmer:

All studies recorded the decision made by participants faced with our genderized dilemma: If they had to, would they prefer sacrificing three persons of the same sex as theirs, or one person of the opposite sex? Study 1 was conducted online and tested several dilemmas aimed at evoking different conditions of sexual scarcity. Study 2 replicated the main result of study 1 in a traditional offline sample. Study 3 controlled for the sexual preferences of participants. Study 4 manipulated the age of the characters in the dilemma. Online studies (1, 3, and 4) were administered using the Qualtrics software, and their participants were drawn from a panel administered by the French RISC platform. Raw data for the four studies have been uploaded asElectronic Supplementary Material.

Data Statement
For all experiments, we report all measures, conditions, and data exclusions. The target sample sizes were 50, 100, 400, and 200 for Studies 1–4, respectively (see below for rationales). These targets were typically exceeded in just a couple of days of online data collection, in which case all participants were kept in the sample.


Data Analysis
In all studies, data were analyzed by means of fitting a multiple logistic regression, predicting the likelihood of making the anti-utilitarian choice (killing three to save one), based on gender and an optional additional predictor (e.g., scarcity in study 1, age of the characters in study 4). All predictors were considered fixed effect variables, except for participants (studies 1 and 4) and scenario (study 4), which were considered random effect variables. Planned contrast analyses were performed to examine the specific effects of age in studies 3 and 4. Statistical analyses were conducted using SAS.

Und die eigentlichen Test:

Study 1
Each participant (25 men and 32 women; age: M = 30 years, SD = 8.7) responded to three genderized dilemmas (see Electronic Supplementary Material). The three dilemmas took place in three different environments chosen to evoke increasingly scarce sexual resources: a large city, a remote rural location, and a spaceship.
Study 2
Students at the University of Toulouse (59 men and 48 women; age: M = 20 years, s.d. = 3.2) volunteered to participate. They responded to the spaceship scenario, which delivered the largest effect in study 1. Study 2 involved double the number of participants as study 1, in order to obtain a more precise assessment of the effect size.
Study 3
Participants (183 men and 332 women; age: M = 35 years, s.d. = 15) responded to the spaceship scenario and indicated their sexual preference on a scale from 0 (totally homosexual) to 100 (totally heterosexual). A large sample was necessary to obtain responses from a sufficient number of homosexual participants.
Study 4
Participants (76 men and 173 women, age: M = 39 years, s.d. = 15) were randomly assigned to the 30-year group (all characters in the dilemmas were described as being 30-year old) or the 50-year group (all characters in the dilemmas were described as being 50-year old). They responded to the spaceship and remote island scenarios (introduced to extend our findings to at least one additional scenario). Because study 4 investigated a negative moderator of the effect first identified in study1, sample size was set as four times larger than that in study 1.

Und die Ergebnisse:

Study 1
Figure 1a displays the proportion of participants willing to sacrifice three same sex characters in order to save one character of the opposite sex. Men were more likely than women (odd ratio = 3.8, 95 % confidence interval (CI) [1.3–10.8]) to make that hypothetical choice, F(1, 110) = 6.39,p = 0.013. Furthermore, men were more especially likely (12 men out of 25, vs. 6 women out of 32) to make that choice in the spaceship scenario, in which mating opportunities were presumably the scarcest, F(1, 110) = 3.96, p = 0.049.

Männer opfern, Frauen retten

Männer opfern, Frauen retten

Fig. 1Proportion of anti-utilitarian choices in the genderized dilemma for male and female participants. a In study 1, men are especially likely to make the anti-utilitarian choice in the spaceship scenario, where the mating opportunities are the fewest. b The spaceship scenario was used in comparable conditions in three studies, allowing for the computation of metaproportions of anti-utilitarian choices by men and women. The 95 % confidence intervals for these two metaproportions are shown in dark grey and light grey, respectively. c In study 4, men were no longer more likely than women to make the anti-utilitarian choice, when this choice saved a woman past her reproductive years

Study 2
Figure 1b displays the proportion of participants “willing” to sacrifice three same sex characters in order to save one character of the opposite sex, in the spaceship scenario, in studies 1–3. As shown in Fig. 1b, study 2 replicated the main effect of study 1: Men were more likely to make the anti-utilitarian choice (34 out of 59) than women (18 out of 48), F(1, 105) = 4.5, p = 0.036; OR = 2.3, 95 % CI (1.1–5.1).

Study 3
For the purpose of analysis, participants were categorized as homosexuals (16 men and 7 women) if they rated themselves between 0 and 40 on the sexual preference scale, bisexuals (6 men and 10 women) between 40 and 60, and heterosexuals (161 men and 315 women) between 60 and 100. Bisexual participants were excluded from further analysis. Heterosexual men were more likely than heterosexual women (OR = 7.4, 95 % CI [4.2–13.2]) to make the anti-utilitarian choice, 121 men out of 161 vs. 110 women out of 315, F(1, 474) = 48.12, p < 0.0001. The 16 homosexual men differed markedly from the rest of the male sample: Only 19 % made the anti-utilitarian choice, compared to 75 % of the heterosexual men (Fisher’s exact test, p < 0.0001).

Study 4
Figure 1c displays the proportion of participants willing to sacrifice three same sex characters in order to save one character of the opposite sex, as a function of the age of these fictional characters. An interaction effect revealed that the age of the characters had a strong effect on the responses of men, but not on the responses of women, F(1, 247) = 4.9, p = 0.027. Men were more likely than women to make the anti-utilitarian choice (on average, 55 men out of 76 vs. 75 women out of 173) when the characters were in their 30s, t(247) = 4.16, p < 0.0001; OR = 4.1, 95 % CI [2.1–7.8]), but not when the characters were in their 50s (on average, 36 men out of 76 vs. 69 women out of 173), t(247) = 1.14, p = 0.25.

Heterosexuelle Männer würden also eher Männer opfern bzw Frauen retten, gerade dann, wenn diese Frauen noch im gebährfähigen Alter sind. Frauen würden das weit weniger.

Ein Kommentar dazu bei Twitter:

Auch interessant zu der Frage, ob nur jemand aus der gleichen Gruppe die Interessen dieser vertreten wird oder ob er nicht eher auch gemäß der Interessen anderer Gruppen tätig werden kann, gerade auch dann, wenn es ich dabei um potentielle Sexualpartner handelt.

Aus der Besprechung der Studie:

Previous research showed that men accepted utilitarian killings to a greater extent than women: Men were more likely to accept that someone be killed in order to save several lives. We suggested that this effect might be due to gender differences in the tolerance to inflicting physical harm to sexual rivals. Based on this evolutionary account, we predicted that men could also be less utilitarian than women in the right conditions, and more specifically when presented with our genderized dilemma: kill three members of the same sex (saving one of the opposite sex), or kill one member of the opposite sex (saving three of the same sex)?

In four studies, we found repeated evidence for this prediction. As a rough summary of our main finding, we can consider the meta-proportion of anti-utilitarian choices in the spaceship scenario, which was used in comparable conditions in three studies (see Fig. 1b). This meta-proportion (computed with the metaprop function of the meta R package) was 66 % for men (95 % CI [60–72]), and 34 % for women (95 % CI [30–39]).

Because our genderized dilemma aimed at showcasing anti-utilitarian male judgments, we never gave participants the mirror-genderized dilemma where they would choose between killing three members of the opposite sex (saving one of the same sex), or kill one member of the same sex (saving three of the opposite sex). Nonetheless, our account straightforwardly predicts that this mirror version would not make a difference for women, while it would make men hyper-utilitarian. To quickly check this additional prediction, we gave this mirror dilemma to an online sample of 158 heterosexual men and 293 heterosexual women. The proportion of anti-utilitarian responses in this mirror version stayed at 33 % for women (just as in the original version), but dropped to 5 % for men.

Can cultural or social norms alone explain our findings? Perhaps. As captured by the “women and children first” rule of escape, men may be socially expected to give priority to saving the life of women. Data on interpersonal aggression also suggest the existence of a norm of chivalry, according to which male-on-female violence is perceived as especially unacceptable (Davidovic, Bell, Ferguson, Gorski, and Campbell 2011; Felson and Feld 2009). The most compelling argument against this explanation of our findings comes from the effect of age in study 4, in which men were no longer willing to sacrifice three men in order to save a woman in her 50s. It is difficult to explain why a norm of chivalry would no longer apply to a woman older than 50, without appealing to additional ad hoc norms. An evolutionary account, though, easily explain why the life of a woman past her fertile years might be less of a priority for male participants.

Although we observed a large and robust difference between the responses of men and women, the proportion of women making the hypothetical choice to kill three women rather than one man remained puzzlingly high, at about one third. Across all studies, the only reliable moderator of this choice was the age of female participants. Anti-utilitarian choices were mostly made by younger, rather than older female participants (effect detected in study 4, t(471) = 2.8,p = 0.005; OR = 2.6, 95 % CI [1.3–5.2] and marginal in study 3, t(247) = 1.7, p = 0.08), whereas age had no reliable effect on the responses of male participants. This is an interesting side result since it suggests that whereas men of all ages may fell prey to sexual selection effects on moral choices, these effects might be limited to women in their fertile years—which could, in turn, suggest that intrasexual rivalry plays a role in their responses. We will nevertheless refrain from speculating too much from an unpredicted finding whose full investigation would probably require to identify the traits and characteristics of the minority of women who make the anti-utilitarian choice.

Whereas age was the only predictor of female moral choices in our task, the moral choices of men were influenced by several moderators, all to be expected from a sexual selection account. Men were more willing to (hypothetically) eliminate other men in situations where mating opportunities were presumably scarce and competition presumably fiercer. Homosexual men were less willing to (hypothetically) eliminate other men, demonstrating that heterosexual interest was an essential component of the effect. Finally, men were no longer willing to eliminate other men if the woman to be saved was in her 50s rather than in her 30s and thus presumably no longer fertile.

All these results must be taken with caution. First, given our questionnaire methodology, participants might have responded on the basis of what they would condone or condemn in others rather than on the basis of what they would actually do by themselves. Second, the link between adult sex ratio, sexual competition, and aggressiveness might not to be as strong as previously believed (Schacht, Rauch, and Borgerhoff Mulder 2014). Third, homosexual men were only 16 in the convenience sample of study 3. Fourth, the age of the woman to be saved was confounded in study 4 with the age of the men to be eliminated. Nonetheless, our pattern of results is consistent and suggestive: the moral choices of men, rather than simply indicating greater utilitarianism, may reflect the subtle workings of sexual selection and intrasexual competition. Under the circumstances typical of previous research, men appeared to be more utilitarian; but the same evolutionary account that explained this result also predicted the circumstances in which men would become anti-utilitarian. Future research may explore the applied relevance of these findings, in terms of the implicit value that male and female decision-makers put on male and female lives, in contexts going from healthcare to warfare.

Finde ich ein interessantes Experiment.

Steven Pinker zum Verhältnis von evolutionärer Psychologie und Feminismus

Leszek hatte angeführt, dass Steven Pinker männerfeindliche Passagen in seinen Werken hat. Er zitierte dazu einen Abschnitt, den ich leicht erweitert auch hier noch einmal zur Diskussion stellen möchte:

I wish I could have discussed the evolutionary psychology of sexuality without the asides about feminist theory, but in today’s intellectual climate that is impossible.

The Darwinian approach to sex is often attacked as being antifeminist, but that is just wrong. Indeed, the accusation is baffling on the face of it, especially to the many feminist women who have developed and tested the theory. The core of feminism is surely the goal of ending sexual discrimination and exploitation, an ethical and political position that is in no danger of being refuted by any foreseeable scientific theory or discovery. Even the spirit of the research poses no threat to feminist ideals. The sex differences that have been documented are in the psychology of reproduction, not in economic or political worth, and they are invidious with regard to men, not women. The differences should heighten awareness of incest, exploitation, harassment, stalking, battering, rape (including date rape and marital rape), and legal codes that discriminate against women. If they show that men are especially tempted to commit certain crimes against women, the implication is that the deterrents should be surer and more severe, not that the crimes are somehow less odious. Even evolutionary explanations of the traditional division of labor by sex do not imply that it is unchangeable, “natural” in the sense of good, or something that should be forced on individual women or men who don’t want it.

Seine Aussage ist hier meiner Meinung nach: “Wenn man feststellen sollte, das Leute (hier zB Männer) aus biologischen Gründen besonders zu bestimmten Taten neigen, dann muss man eben Leute (in dem Fall hauptsächlich Männer) besonders abschrecken, damit diese Taten nicht trotz der Disposition in diese Richtung begangen werden (was wir ja auch machen: Vergewaltigung hat einen außerordentlich hohen Strafrahmen). Falsch wäre es dagegen im Rahmen eines naturalistischen Fehlschlusses diese Taten für moralisch gut weil natürlich zu erklären.

Er will also kein Sonderstrafrecht für Männer, sondern er will, dass die Abschreckung der potentiellen Versuchung angepasst wird, weil Menschen eben nicht blind ihren Trieben folgen. es ist also ein Versuch darzustellen, was eigentlich aus biologischen Grundlagen folgen sollte: Eben keine moralische Wertung, sondern die Frage, wie man unliebsame Folgen etwaiger biologischer Dispositionen in den Griff bekommt.

Er hat aus meiner Sicht gleichzeitig unrecht und recht, wenn er anführt, dass diese Aussagen sich nicht per se gegen den Feminismus wenden. Sie richten sich nicht gegen einen Feminismus, der tatsächlich Ungerechtigkeit aufgrund sozialer Normen etc abbauen will, denn dazu wäre es ja gerade erforderlich deren Umfang zu bestimmen und sich mit den biologischen Grundlagen auseinanderzusetzen.

Leider ist allerdings ein solcher Feminismus gegenwärtig bei Feministinnen quasi nicht vorhanden, da ihm zu sehr das Opferelement fehlt. Der gegenwärtige Feminismus baut auf anderen Grundlagen auf, wozu letztendlich Pinker ja auch etwas schreibt:

What evolutionary psychology challenges is not the goals of feminism, but parts of the modern orthodoxy about the mind that have been taken up by the intellectual establishment of feminism.

  • One idea is that people are designed to carry out the interests of their class and sex, rather than to act out of their own beliefs and desires.
  • A second is that the minds of children are formed by their parents, and the minds of adults are formed by language and by media images.
  • A third is the romantic doctrine that our natural inclinations are good and that ignoble motives come from society.

The unstated premise that nature is nice lies behind many of the objections to the Darwinian theory of human sexuality. Carefree sex is natural and good, it is assumed, so if someone claims that men want it more than women do, it would imply that men are mentally healthy and women neurotic and repressed. That conclusion is unacceptable, so the claim that men want carefree sex more than women do cannot be correct. Similarly, sexual desire is good, so if men rape for sex (rather than to express anger towards women), rape would not be as evil. Rape is evil; therefore the claim that men rape for sex cannot be correct. More generally, what people instinctively like is good, so if people like beauty, beauty would be a sign of worth. Beauty is not a sign of worth, so the claim that people like beauty cannot be correct. These kinds of arguments combine bad biology (nature is nice), bad psychology (the mind is created by society), and bad ethics (what people like is good). Feminism would lose nothing by giving them up

Dieser Absatz ist aus meiner Sicht hoch interessant. In seinem 5 Jahre später erschienenen Werk „The blank Slate“ hatte Pinker ebenfalls Grundannahmen im Feminismus zur menschlichen Natur dargestellt, nämlich:

Gender feminism is an empirical doctrine committed to three claims about human nature.

  • The first is that the differences between men and women have nothing to do with biology but are socially constructed in their entirety.
  • The second is that humans possess a single social motive — power — and that social life can be understood only in terms of how it is exercised.
  • The third is that human interactions arise not from the motives of people dealing with each other as individuals but from the motives of groups dealing with other groups — in this case, the male gender dominating the female gender.

Seine obigen Annahmen gehen in eine ähnliche Richtung, sind aber auch eine Besprechung wert:

1. One idea is that people are designed to carry out the interests of their class and sex, rather than to act out of their own beliefs and desires.

Das ist im wesentlichen die spätere dritte Annahme und ein häufig Punkt in der Kritik am Feminismus: Wenn dargestellt wird, dass Männer die Macht hätten, weil bestimmte Männer in bestimmten Machtpositionen sitzen, dann ist es eben genau diese Annahme, die das eigentliche Argument bildet.

Und die Gegenmeinung ist eben, dass Männer in Machtpositionen keine Vorteile für Männer an sich bilden, weil der einzelne Mann nicht mehr Macht hat, wenn der Vorstandsvorsitzende von VW ein Mann ist. Es bringt ihm schlicht nichts und sein Leben verändert sich nicht, wenn es eine Frau ist.

Auch eine große Zahl männliche Politiker muss nicht vorteilhaft für Männer sein, wenn es im Interesse dieser Politiker ist, das sie bei den überwiegend weiblichen Wählern gut ankommen.

Dieser Punkt wird auch unter dem Stichwort „Apex-Fallacy“ oder Gipfeltrugschluß diskutiert

2. A second is that the minds of children are formed by their parents, and the minds of adults are formed by language and by media images.

Das wäre im Prinzip der Poststrukturalismus, also die Annahme eins in seiner späteren Betrachtung, wobei hier noch die Ergänzung dazu kommt, dass Kinder durch ihre Eltern und später durch Sprache und Medien geformt werden. Tatsächlich allerdings haben wir allerdings keinen Blank slate, gerade im Geschlechterbereich. Es wird hier auch gerne übersehen, dass Kinder nicht nur die Erziehung von ihren Eltern erhalten, sondern auch ihre Gene. Gleiches Verhalten kann damit auch eine Ausprägung gleicher Gene sein. Auch kann der Einfluss der Peergroup größer sein als der der Eltern.

Es wird auch nicht berücksichtigt, dass ein Transfer in die andere Richtung stattfindet: Zuschauer entscheiden, was im Fernsehen kommt, indem sie ein- oder abschalten und Sendungen sich damit lohnen oder nicht lohnen. Verhalten, welches auf klassischen Rollenbildern aufbaut, kann damit auch schlicht deswegen erfolgreich sein, weil diese Rollenbilder gut zu bestimmten biologisch geprägten Grundlagen der Menschen passen und sich die Leute daher in diesen wiederfinden bzw. die Charaktere daher verständlich finden.

3. A third is the romantic doctrine that our natural inclinations are good and that ignoble motives come from society.

Da spielt der naturalistische Fehlschluss hinein, dass natürliches gut sein muss und gutes natürlich. Die Theorie vom „Edlen Wilden„, also der guten Natur, die durch die Gesellschaft verdorben wird.

Dieser Trugschluss kommt sehr gerne als Gegenargument. Die Beispiele, die Pinker dort aufzählt finde ich ganz interessant. Man sieht das beispielsweise in der Fatacceptance-Bewegung, die sich auch dagegen wehrt, dass es so etwas wie ein „Normalgewicht“ gibt oder das es bestimmte Attraktivität an sich gibt, alles soll auch hier ein soziales Konstrukt sein und jeder schön.

Geoffrey Miller zu evolutionärer Psychologie und der Unbestimmtheit des Statusbegriffs beim Menschen

Eine interessante Aussage von Geoffrey Miller zu Pickup und Evolutionärer Psychologie

Erst einmal sagt er einiges dazu, wie der Bereich der Evolutionären Psychologie entstanden ist und was für Schwierigkeiten man dort hat:

[Geoffrey Miller] Yeah I’d say about seventy percent of evolutionary psychology is about mating, attraction, physical attractiveness, mental attractiveness, potential conflicts between men and women, and how those play out. But then other evolutionary psych people study all kinds of other things, like the learning and memory that Wikipedia mentioned. …

[Geoffrey Miller] Well one thing to note is it’s a pretty new field. I was literally at Stanford University when the field got invented by some of the leading people, who kind of had a joint retreat there at a place called The Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. 1989, 1990.

And they actually strategized about, „How do we create this new field? What should we call it? How do we launch it? What kind of scientific societies and journals do we establish?“

So the field’s only twenty-five years old. It started out pretty strongly though, because the people who went into it were brilliant, really world-class geniuses, and that’s one of the things that attracted me to the field when I was a grad student.

Since then, the quality of the research has gotten way better. It’s a very progressive field in the sense that we actually build on each other’s insights. Other areas of psychology, everybody wants to coin and patent their own little term, their own, almost, trademarked little theory, and try to ignore a lot of what other people do.

We tend to be in more of the tradition of mainstream biology, where you actually respect what other people have done before, and try to build on it. So I think we’re really good at doing that.

The other thing to remember, apart from it being a young field, is it’s a pretty small field. There’s fewer than a thousand people in the world actively doing evolutionary psych research, compared to fifty thousand people doing neuroscience research, or probably a hundred thousand scientists doing cancer research.

So it’s not a huge field. There’s probably more science journalists trying to cover evolutionary psychology than there are evolutionary psych researchers. …

[Geoffrey Miller] Well I’ll tell you what areas of science really impress me at the moment, in terms of being super high-quality and sophisticated. One is behavior genetics. Twin studies. So I did a sabbatical in Brisbane, Australia with one of the big twin research groups, back in 2007.

And they were just making this shift. They had tracked thirty thousand pairs of twins in Australia for the previous twenty years, and given them literally hundreds of surveys, and measurements, and experiments over the years. And they were just starting to collect DNA from all these twin pairs.

And what you have now is big international networks of people working in behavior genetics, sharing their data, publishing papers with fifty or a hundred scientists on the paper, working together and being able to identify, „Hey, here’s where the genes for, like, how sexually promiscuous you are overlap with the genes for this personality trait, or the genes for this physical health trait.“

And it’s amazingly sophisticated. It’s powerful. The datasets are huge. The problem is a lot of that stuff is very politically incorrect, and it makes people uncomfortable. And people are like, „You can’t say that propensities for murdering people are genetic. Or, propensities for having a lot of musical creativity are genetic,“ people don’t want to hear that. So there’s a big kind of ideological problem there. But honestly that’s where some of the best research is being done in the behavioral sciences. …

Das Gebiet an sich ist also noch vergleichsweise jung und vergleichsweise wenige Personen sind darin tätig. Was vielleicht auch daran liegt, dass es eher „Grundlagenforschung“ ist, ohne das man daraus direkt Medikamente oder Heilmethoden herleiten kann. Zudem ist man in dem Bereich eben schnell in relativ strittigen Bereichen, etwa eben der Frage, wie sich unserer Biologie auswirkt und damit auch bei der biologischen Kränkung.

Dann sagt er noch etwas zu einem meiner Lieblingsthemen, nämlich Status:

[Geoffrey Miller] Well one big thing is I think a lot of the pickup artist guys who quote The Mating Mind book, or refer to evolutionary psychology, get all obsessed with status, and they talk about alpha males, and beta males, and gamma males, and omega males, and whatever. Status, status, status. And that’s fine. Status is important, no doubt.

But the idea that you can simply categorize human males into, „Oh, you’re an alpha. You’re a beta.“ That works for gorillas. It works for orangutans, where the different statuses are actually associated with different body sizes. Like an alpha orangutan is literally twice as heavy as a beta orangutan, and has huge cheek pads, and the beta doesn’t. And they have completely different mating strategies.

But for humans, status is way more complicated. It’s fluid, it depends on context. …

 Ich bin auch der Auffassung, dass es keine strikte Unterteilung in Alpha und Beta gibt, keine feste Grenze, sondern dass es ein sehr stark kontextabhängiger Bereich ist, der einer starken kulturellen Ausgestaltung unterliegt, wenn es auch bestimmte Regeln gibt, nach denen es verläuft. Das hat bereits häufig zu der Kritik geführt, dass mit dieser Fluidität der gesamte Begriff wertlos ist. Was aus meiner Sicht falsch ist: Soziale Hierarchien können vielfältig ausgeprägt sein und stark subjektiv sein: Wer für den einen Bodensatz der Gesellschaft ist mag aus der Sicht eines anderen eine rankhohe Person sein, weil er in der jeweiligen Welt einen hohen Rank hat (ein klassisches Beispiel wäre wieder der Punker, der aus Sicht eines Bankers vielleicht Bodensatz der Gesellschaft ist, in seiner Gruppe aber der Anführer. Oder der Sektenführer, der aus Sicht von Leuten außerhalb der Sekte ein Spinner, innerhalb dieser aber ein Gott ist.
Schon weil wir heute in großen Gruppen leben, in denen zahlreiche Gruppenstrukturen sich überschneiden und durchdringen oder auf Ebenen nebeneinander liegen, und wir gleichzeitig starke formelle Gleichheit anstreben,  ist bei uns Status zwangsläufig kompliziert: Es ist kein einfaches „Ich bin stärker“ oder „ich kann mir lauter auf die Brust trommeln“, sondern es ist in kulturelle Zeichen eingebunden, die je nach Gruppe einen eigenen Wert oder eine andere Signalstärke haben.

Übersicht: Evolution, Evolutionäre Psychologie und Partnerwahl

1. Grundlegendes

2. Evolutionär relevanter Zeitraum

3. Sexuelle Selektion

4. Signalling

5. Kinder/Jugend/Spielen

6. Hormone

7. Verschiedene Konzepte

8. Geist vs Körper

9. Partnerwahl

10. Status

11. Schönheit

12. Sex:

13. Liebe

14. Vaterschaft

15. Geschlechterunterschiede

16. Sozialverhalten

17. Kritik

18. Spieltheorie

19. Videos