Who dares, wins
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Heroism is apparently nonadaptive in Darwinian terms, so why does it exist at all? Risk-taking and heroic behavior are predominantly male tendencies, and literature and legend reflect this. This study explores the possibility that heroism persists in many human cultures owing to a female preference for risk-prone rather than risk-averse males as sexual partners, and it suggests that such a preference may be exploited as a male mating strategy. It also attempts to quantify the relative influences of altruism and bravery in the evolution of heroism. Our study found that females do prefer risk-prone brave males to risk-averse non-brave males, and that men are aware of this preference. Bravery in a male was shown to be the stronger factor influencing female choice of short-term partners, long-term partners, and male friends, with altruism playing a lesser part in their choice. Altruism was deemed important in long-term relationships and friendships, but for short-term liaisons, non-altruists were preferred to altruists. Heroism may therefore have evolved owing to a female preference for brave, risk-prone males because risk-taking acts as an honest cue for "good genes." Altruism was judged to be a less influential factor in the evolution of heroism than bravery and a demonstrated willingness to take risks.
- Alcock, J. 1993 Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts.
- Bruce, A. C., and J. E. V. Johnson 1994 Male and Female Betting Behaviour: New Perspectives. Journal of Gambling Studies 10:183–198. CrossRef
- Cashdan, E. 1996 Women’s Mating Strategies. Evolutionary Anthropology 5:134–143. CrossRef
- Chagnon, N. A. 1992 Yanomamo: The Last Days of Eden. Harcourt Brace Javanovich, New York and London.
- Clift, S. M., J. C. Wilkins, and E. A. Davidson 1993 Impulsiveness, Venturesomeness and Sexual Risk-taking among Heterosexual GUM Clinic Attenders. Personality and Individual Differences 15:403–410. CrossRef
- Draper, P., and H. Harpending 1982 Father Absence and Reproductive Strategy: An Evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Anthropological Research 38:255–273.
- Flisher, A. J., C. F. Ziervogel, D. O. Charlton, P. H. Leger, and B. A. Robertson 1993 Risk-Taking Behavior of Cape Peninsula High-School Students: Road-Related Behaviour. South African Medical Journal 83:486–490.
- Harre, N., J. Field, and B. Kirkwood 1996 Gender Differences and Areas of Common Concern in the Driving Behaviors and Attitudes of Adolescents. Journal of Safety Research 27:163–173. CrossRef
- Hawkes, K. 1991 Showing Off: Tests of an Hypothesis about Men’s Foraging Goals. Ethology and Sociobiology 2:29–54. CrossRef
- Hill, K., and H. Kaplan 1988 Tradeoffs in Male and Female Reproductive Strategies among Ache Foragers: Parts 1 and 2. In Human Reproductive Effort, L. Betzig, M. Borgerhoff Mulder, and P. Turke, eds. Pp. 277–306. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Howland, J., R. Hingson, T. W. Mangione, and N. Bell 1996 Why Are Most Drowning Victims Men? Sex Differences in Aquatic Skills Behaviors. American Journal of Public Health 86:93–96.
- Poppen, P. J. 1995 Gender and Patterns of Sexual Risk Taking in College Students. Sex Roles 32:545–555. CrossRef
- Powell, M., and D. Ansic 1997 Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour in Financial Decision-making: An Experimental Analysis. Journal of Economic Psychology 18:605–628. CrossRef
- Stearns, S. C. 1989 Demonstrating Unselfishness: They Haven’t Done It Yet. Behavioral and Brain Science 12:723. CrossRef
- Trivers, R. L. 1971 The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology 46:35–57. CrossRef
- Tyler, J., and C. Lichtenstein 1997 Risk, Protective, AOD Knowledge, Attitude, and AOD Behavior: Factors Associated with Characteristics of High-Risk Youth. Evaluation and Program Planning 20:27–45. CrossRef
- Wilson, M., M. Daly, S. Gordon, and A. Pratt 1996 Sex Differences in Valuations of the Environment? Population and Environment 18:143–159. CrossRef
- Zahavi, A., and A. Zahavi 1997 The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin’s Puzzle. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Who dares, wins
Volume 12, Issue 2 , pp 89-105
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Mate choice
- Risky behavior