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Convergent evidence for a theory of rapid, automatic, and accurate sex ratio tracking.

Authors
  • Brandner, Jordann L1
  • Dillon, Haley M2
  • Brase, Gary L3
  • 1 Department of Psychological Sciences, Kansas State University, 492 Bluemont Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Jordan)
  • 2 Department of Psychology, State University of New York - Plattsburgh, 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901, USA.
  • 3 Department of Psychological Sciences, Kansas State University, 492 Bluemont Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
Type
Published Article
Journal
Acta psychologica
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2020
Volume
210
Pages
103161–103161
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103161
PMID: 32847751
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

It is presumed that people track the sex ratios in their environment (the number of males relative to number of females) in order to adaptively adjust their decisions and behaviors, but this actual tracking ability has not been established. The relevance of sex ratio information, drawn from evolutionary biology and studies of human relationship decision making, is integrated here with memory research (on frequency encoding), perception research (on ensemble coding), and neuroscience research. A series of four experiments provide empirical results to help fill research gaps and facilitate this theoretical integration. In particular, these studies connect details from memory research on relatively automatic frequency encoding of both items and categories, perception research on summary statistics from ensemble coding, and theoretical ideas about the function of these abilities (specifically applied to human sex ratios based on faces) from social and evolutionary approaches. Collectively this research demonstrates an evolved psychological mechanism for functional, fast, and relatively automatic human abilities to track experienced sex ratios in the social world. This sex ratio information is theorized to underpin documented facultative adjustments in relationship dynamics as well as perceptions of social group characteristics. This integrative approach highlights how the coding, memory, and judgments about population sex ratios can both account for a number of existing findings and point towards key further research. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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