Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Observations of Sexual Dimorphism

  • Peter J. Marshall
  • Ryan Capiron
  • Darren BurkeEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1400-1



Sexual dimorphism is the term used to describe when the two sexes of a species possess physical characteristics that differ from each other. These physical characteristics can include differences in height, weight, color, decoration, and pattern and can even include body parts unique to one sex or behaviors such as birdsong.


Evolutionary psychologists are interested in human sexual dimorphism (the observation that men and women tend to have different physical qualities), and whether it constitutes an evolved signal of some kind. There is a large body of evidence that this is the case for nonhuman animals, for example, the peacock’s tail which signals mate quality to the peahen; and the antlers of some deer species which signal to rivals the dominance of the deer. This chapter will report some of the evidence suggesting...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Marshall
    • 1
  • Ryan Capiron
    • 1
  • Darren Burke
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of NewcastleOurimbahAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Douglas Sellers
    • 1
  1. 1.Penn State Worthington ScrantonScrantonUSA