Human Nature

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 25–51

Effects of Harsh and Unpredictable Environments in Adolescence on Development of Life History Strategies

A Longitudinal Test of an Evolutionary Model
  • Barbara Hagenah Brumbach
  • Aurelio José Figueredo
  • Bruce J. Ellis

DOI: 10.1007/s12110-009-9059-3

Cite this article as:
Brumbach, B.H., Figueredo, A.J. & Ellis, B.J. Hum Nat (2009) 20: 25. doi:10.1007/s12110-009-9059-3


The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data were used to test predictions from life history theory. We hypothesized that (1) in young adulthood an emerging life history strategy would exist as a common factor underlying many life history traits (e.g., health, relationship stability, economic success), (2) both environmental harshness and unpredictability would account for unique variance in expression of adolescent and young adult life history strategies, and (3) adolescent life history traits would predict young adult life history strategy. These predictions were supported. The current findings suggest that the environmental parameters of harshness and unpredictability have concurrent effects on life history development in adolescence, as well as longitudinal effects into young adulthood. In addition, life history traits appear to be stable across developmental time from adolescence into young adulthood.


Life history theory Add Health Adolescent health Environmental harshness Environmental unpredictability 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Hagenah Brumbach
    • 1
  • Aurelio José Figueredo
    • 2
  • Bruce J. Ellis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.John & Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations