Human Nature

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 305–317

Proper and dark heroes as DADS and CADS

Alternative mating strategies in British Romantic literature


Empirical tests described in this article support hypotheses derived from evolutionary theory on the perceptions of literary characters. The proper and dark heroes in British Romantic literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries respectively represent long-term and short-term mating strategies. Recent studies indicate that for long-term relationships, women seek partners with the ability and willingness to sustain paternal investment in extended relationships. For short-term relationships, women choose partners whose features indicate high genetic quality. In hypothetical scenarios, females preferred proper heroes for long-term relationships. The shorter the relationship under consideration, the more likely women were to choose dark heroes as partners.

Key words

Darwinian literary studies Life history Mating strategy Sexual selection 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Kruger
    • 1
  • Maryanne Fisher
    • 2
  • Ian Jobling
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor
  2. 2.York UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Buffalo

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