Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Sexual Access

  • Samantha BrindleyEmail author
  • Melissa McDonald
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_967-1



A key motivation for men who join gangs is the prospect of increased mating opportunities; men who are members of gangs experience greater mating success, particularly gang leaders.


As the lower-investing sex, men are capable of having many more offspring over the course of their lifetime than are women. Indeed, access to mating opportunities is a key limiting factor in men’s reproductive fitness. As a result, men are willing to engage in intrasexual competition, sometimes extremely risky and violet competition, in order to increase their mating prospects. One such means of fostering access to women is joining a gang. Qualitative data suggests that this is a key motivation for men who join gangs (Wong 1982), and survey data shows that gang members, especially their leaders, do indeed experience greater mating success than non-gang members (Palmer and Tilley 1995). A more detailed...


Parental Investment Gang Member Mating Opportunity Gang Membership Sexual Access 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Buss, D. (2011). Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  2. Campbell, A. (1993). Men, women, and aggression. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Connolly, J., Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Taradash, A. (2000). Dating experiences of bullies in early adolescence. Child Maltreatment, 5, 299–310.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Covey, C., Menard, S., & Franzese, R. (1992). Juvenile gangs. Springfield: C. S. Thomas.Google Scholar
  5. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Homicide. Hawthorne: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  6. Gangestad, S. W., Simpson, J. A., Cousins, A. J., Garver-Apgar, C. E., & Christensen, P. N. (2004). Women’s preferences for male behavioral displays change across the menstrual cycle. Psychological Science, 15, 203–207.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Padilla, F. (1992). The gang as an American enterprise. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Palmer, C. T., & Tilley, C. F. (1995). Sexual access to females as a motivation for joining gangs: An evolutionary approach. Journal of Sex Research, 32, 213–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Snyder, J. K., Fessler, D. M. T., Tiokhin, L., Frederick, D. A., Lee, S. W., & Navarrete, C. D. (2011). Trade-offs in a dangerous world: Women’s fear of crime predicts preferences for aggressive and formidable mates. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(2), 127–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  11. Volk, A., Dane, A., Marini, Z., & Vaillancourt, T. (2015). Adolescent bullying, dating, and mating: Testing an evolutionary hypothesis. Evolutionary Psychology, 13, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wong, B. P. (1982). Chinatown. Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Melissa McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA