Nature and Nurture

How important are nature and nurture in shaping human reproductive behaviour?

Psychologists have long debated the extent to which human behaviour is determined by nature or by nurture.   Those who favour the former stress the primary role of one’s genetic make-up.   What one is born with (intelligence, nature, and physical attributes such as eye colour) is what determines the pattern of one’s life.   Those who argue for the importance of nurture, on the other hand, argue that societal influences predominate.   This divergence of thinking is evident in psychologists’ views on human reproductive behaviour.
Evolutionary psychologists, influenced by Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’, argue that human sexual reproductive behaviour is primarily influenced by evolutionary urges and the need to reproduce and that these behaviours manifest themselves differently according to gender. It is the demands of parental investment that determine what a man and woman look for in a prospective mate. For example when choosing a sexual partner it is argued that females will generally seek a partner that can provide stability in order to facilitate child rearing, whereas males will concentrate on physical attributes such as wide hips that may indicate a fertile woman able to carry a child. Waynforth and Dunbar (1995), using an analysis of adverts in various newspapers found that 44% of men specified physical attraction as highly important as opposed to 22% of women. While this may indicate a general trend amongst American users of newspaper personals, it does not provide a full enough picture of the wider population nor indeed does it account for cultural variations and changes in attitude throughout time.
Some evolutionary psychologists have contended that the male preference is for females to have a WHR (waist to hip ratio) of around 0.7, wide hips with a slim waist (Carlson et al 2004). However for this to be accurate it would be necessary for it to be applied to all cultures...