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Todd K. Shackelford

Florida Atlantic Univeristy
Department of Psychology
Director, Evolutionary Psychology Lab

Sexual Coercion and Forced In-Pair Copulation as Sperm Competition Tactics in Humans

Monday, March 1, 2010
Science I 149, 5:00 PM

Abstract

Rape of women by men might be generated either by a specialized rape adaptation or as a by-product of other psychological adaptations. Although increasing number of sexual partners is a proposed benefit of rape according to the “rape as an adaptation” and the “rape as a by-product” hypotheses, neither hypothesis addresses directly why some men rape their long-term partners, to whom they already have sexual access. In two studies we tested specific hypotheses derived from the general hypothesis that sexual coercion in the context of an intimate relationship may function as a sperm competition tactic. We hypothesized that men’s sexual coercion in the context of an intimate relationship is related positively to his partner’s perceived infidelities and that men’s sexual coercion is related positively to their mate retention behaviors (behaviors designed to prevent a partner’s infidelity). The results from Study 1 (self-reports from 246 men) and Study 2 (partner-reports from 276 women) supported the hypotheses. The Discussion section addresses limitations of this research and highlights future directions for research on sexual coercion in intimate relationships.

Biography

Todd K. Shackelford received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Psychology in 1997 from The University of Texas at Austin, his MA in Psychology from The University of Michigan in 1995, and his BA in Psychology from The University of New Mexico in 1993. Shackelford is Professor of Psychology at Florida Atlantic University, where he is Founder and Chair of the Evolutionary Psychology PhD program and Director of the Evolutionary Psychology Lab. Shackelford has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in edited volumes and has co-edited six volumes. Much of Shackelford’s research addresses sexual conflict between men and women, with a special focus on testing hypotheses derived from sperm competition theory. Shackelford is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the International Association for Research on Aggression, and the Center for Science and Reason. Since 2006, Shackelford has served as Editor of Evolutionary Psychology. Shackelford also serves as Associate Editor of Personality and Individual Differences, and has served as Associate Editor for Journal of Personality and Human Ethology Bulletin and as Action Editor for Aggressive Behavior, Journal of Comparative Psychology, and Journal of Personality. Shackelford serves on the editorial boards of several other journals, including Cognition and Emotion, Human Nature, Journal of Comparative Psychology, Journal of Family Psychology, Journal of Family Violence, Review of General Psychology, Personal Relationships, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Violence and Victims.

Assigned Reading

  1. Absence Makes the Adaptations Grow Fonder: Proportion of Time Apart From Partner, Male Sexual Psychology, and Sperm Competition in Humans (Homo sapiens)

Supplemental Reading

  1. Adaptation to Sperm Competition in Humans

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