Human Nature

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 305–317 | Cite as

Proper and dark heroes as DADS and CADS

Alternative mating strategies in British Romantic literature
  • Daniel J. KrugerEmail author
  • Maryanne Fisher
  • Ian Jobling


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 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, Richard, John L. Hoogland, Richard D. Howard, Katharine M. Noonan, and Paul W. Sherman 1979 Sexual Dimorphisms and Breeding Systems in Pinnipeds, Ungulates, Primates, and Humans. In Evolutionary Biology and Human Social Behavior: An Anthropological Perspective, Napoleon Chagnon and William Irons, eds. Pp. 402–435. North Scituate, Massachusetts: Duxbury.Google Scholar
  2. Ardener, Edwin 1960 Plantation and Village in the Cameroons. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barash, David P., and Judith Eve Lipton 2001 The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  4. Buss, David M. 1994 The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  5. 2000 The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  6. Carroll, Joseph. 1995 Evolution and Literary Theory. Columbia: University of Missouri Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cashdan, Elizabeth 1996 Women’s Mating Strategies. Evolutionary Anthropology 5:134–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, Jacob 1988 Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, second ed. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dawkins, Richard 1976 The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Draper, Patricia 1989 African Marriage Systems: Perspectives from Evolutionary Ecology. Ethology and Sociobiology 10:145–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Draper, Patricia, and Jay Belsky 1990 Personality Development in Evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Personality 58:141–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Draper, Patricia, and Henry Harpending 1982 Father Absence and Reproductive Strategy: An Evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Anthropological Research 38:252–273.Google Scholar
  13. 1988 A Sociobiological Perspective on the Development of Human Reproductive Strategies. In Sociobiological Perspectives on Human Development, Kevin B. MacDonald ed. Pp. 340–372. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Farrell, John P. 1980 Revolution as Tragedy: The Dilemma of the Moderate from Scott to Arnold. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gangestad, Steven W., and Jeffry A. Simpson 2000 The Evolution of Human Mating: Trade-offs and Strategic Pluralism. Brain and Behavioral Sciences 23:573–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geary, David 1998 Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  17. Hazlitt, William 1930 Why the Heroes of Romances Are Insipid. In The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, Vol. 17. P. P. Howe, ed. Pp. 246–254. London: Dent.Google Scholar
  18. Hill, Kim, and A. Magdelena Hurtado 1996 Ache Life History: The Ecology and Demography of Foraging People. Hawthorne, New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  19. Jobling, Ian 2002a Byron as Cad. Philosophy and Literature 26:296–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 2002b Testosterone and Romanticism. Submitted for publication in The Wellsprings of the Arts: Biology, Chaos and Popular Culture, Brett Cooke and Frederick Turner, eds.Google Scholar
  21. 2002c The Emergence of the Dark Hero in Scott and Byron: A Darwinian Perspective. Ph.D. Thesis, Comparative Literature Department, SUNY Buffalo.Google Scholar
  22. Kelly, Susan, and Robin I. M. Dunbar 2001 "Who Dares, Wins": Heroism versus Altruism in Women’s Mate Choice. Human Nature 12:89–105.Google Scholar
  23. Lancaster, Jane B., and Hillard Kaplan 1992 Human Mating and Family Formation Strategies: The Effects of Variability Among Males in Quality and the Allocation of Mating Effort and Parental Investment. In Topics in Primatology, Volume 1: Human Origins. Toshisada Nishida, ed. Pp. 21–33. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Maclay, George, and Humphry Knipe 1972 The Dominant Man: The Pecking Order in Human Society. New York: Delacorte.Google Scholar
  25. Mazur, Allan, Carolyn Halpern, and J. Richard Udry 1994 Dominant Looking Male Teenagers Copulate Earlier. Ethology and Sociobilogy 15:87–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pinker, Steven 1997 How the Mind Works. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  27. 2002 The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  28. Radcliffe, Ann 1998 The Mysteries of Udolpho. [Originally published in 1794]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Railo, Eino 1927 The Haunted Castle: A Study of the Elements of English Romanticism. London: Routledge, and New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
  30. Sadalla, Edward K., Douglas T. Kenrick, and Beth Vershure 1987 Dominance and Heterosexual Attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52:730–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Scott, Sir Walter 1900 The Pirate. [Originally published in 1822]. New York: Funk and Wagnalls.Google Scholar
  32. 1969 The Heart of Mid-Lothian. [Originally published in 1818]. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  33. 1986 Waverley. [Originally published in 1814]. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Thorslev, Peter L., Jr. 1962 The Byronic Hero: Types and Prototypes. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  35. Toothaker, Larry E. 1993 Multiple Comparison Procedures. Newbury Park, California: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Townsend, John M. 1989 Mate Selection Criteria: A Pilot Study. Ethology and Sociology 10:173–206.Google Scholar
  37. Trivers, Robert 1985 Social Evolution. Menlo Park, California: Benjamin Cummings.Google Scholar
  38. Welsh, Alexander 1992 The Hero of the Waverley Novels, with New Essays on Scott. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Wiederman, Michael W., and Elizabeth R. Allgeier 1992 Gender Differences in Mate Selection Criteria: Sociobiological or Socioeconomic Explanation? Ethology and Sociobiology 13:115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wilson, Edward O. 1998 Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. New York: Random House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations