Anthropology of Sex & Gender

Paper Topics (select ONE)
You will find and read original research on one of the following topics, and write a short paper in which you must a) provide a clear statement of the evolutionary hypothesis(es) regarding the topic you chose, b) state a position as to whether the evidence supports or fails to support the evolutionary hypothesis(es), and c) support your argument (position) with evidence from the research articles you read.
• Sex and competition: Evolutionary theory predicts that men and women may have
distinct adaptations when it comes to pursuing social, political, or economic status. To
address this topic, you should 1) examine the evidence as to whether or not there are sex
differences in attainment and/or in those attitudes and behaviors that would affect
attainment (for example, financial risk-taking), and 2) evaluate whether patterns support
evolutionary explanations. “Attainment” could mean educational attainment, political power, economic influence, representation in a specific field such as engineering or
nursing, or even intellectual or communication abilities or styles. You should pick a
narrow realm of “attainment” rather than attempt to address everything. Not all of your
articles need to take an evolutionary perspective (although at least some must), rather you
might wish to combine data from articles that are atheoretical (that is, just describing
demographic differences) with those that are testing specific hypotheses regarding
differences. You must a) provide a clear statement of the evolutionary hypothesis(es) for
sex differences in attainment, b) state a position as to whether the evidence supports or
fails to support the evolutionary hypothesis(es), and c) support your argument (position)
with evidence from the research articles you read.
• Sex and desire/attraction: Evolutionary theory predicts that women and men should
prioritize different sexual strategies and different qualities in a potential mate due to
different reproductive challenges. To address this topic, you should 1) examine the
evidence as to whether or not there are sex differences in sexual attitudes or behavior (for
example, interest in pursuing short-term versus long-term mating strategies) OR in mate
preferences (for example, preferences for physical attractiveness), and 2) evaluate
whether patterns support evolutionary explanations. You should pick a narrow range of
“strategies” or “attraction” rather than attempt to address everything. You must a)
provide a clear statement of the evolutionary hypothesis(es) for sex differences in
attainment, b) state a position as to whether the evidence supports or fails to support the
evolutionary hypothesis(es), and c) support your argument (position) with evidence from
the research articles you read.
• Evolution and sexual orientation: We have reviewed various evolutionary hypotheses
regarding variation in sexual orientation (for example, kin selection and antagonistic
pleiotropy). To address this topic, you should select articles favoring different
hypotheses and evaluate which one(s) you think has the most empirical support
(evidence). This is a compare and contrast topic, comparing the utility of different
hypotheses to explain variation in sexual orientation.
• Non-reproductive relationships and desire/attraction: Evolutionary theory predicts
that women and men should prioritize different sexual strategies and different qualities in
a potential mate due to different reproductive challenges. However, many
romantic/sexual relationships are non-reproductive, for example, homosexual
relationships or relationships with post-reproductive age women. To address this topic,
you should compare patterns of desire or attraction among heterosexual, reproductive-age individuals with those of either homosexual or post-reproductive age individuals.
What can the patterns tell us about how evolution shaped human sexual psychology (for
example, do homosexual or post-reproductive preferences appear similar to those of
heterosexual/reproductive-age, suggesting that evolution has not shaped specifically
strategies for non-reproductive relationships, or do they appear to differ, suggesting that
there may have been the selection for strategies specific to non-reproducing relationships).
• Life history and strategies: Evolutionary theory predicts that natural selection should
favor strategies that benefit overall lifetime reproductive success, however those
strategies should change across the lifespan as the relative reproductive costs and benefits
change. To address this topic, you should 1) examine the evidence as to whether or not
there are life history differences in strategies (these could be competitive strategies or
parental investment strategies) and/or in those attitudes and behaviors that would affect
such strategies, and 2) evaluate whether patterns support shifting strategies with changes
in reproductive success and/or potential. You should pick a narrow realm of “strategies”
rather than attempt to address everything, and you may want to focus on one sex or the
other. You must a) provide a clear statement of the evolutionary hypothesis(es) for life
history changes in strategies, b) state a position as to whether the evidence supports or
fails to support the evolutionary hypothesis(es), and c) support your argument (position)
with evidence from the research articles you read.
• Other topics: You are welcome to propose a different topic as long as it is in line with
the topics covered in this class and with instructor permission.

ASSIGNMENT #3: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
One of the more useful tools in conducting research is the annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography combines a reference list with notes about each of the sources. For this assignment, you will construct an annotated bibliography based on one of the topics listed above.
1) Research:
You must use Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) or other database (e.g. PsycInfo or JSTOR)
to find a minimum of FIVE scholarly articles (peer reviewed) on one of the above topics.
2) Write-up:
For each source, you must:
• Cite the source in proper APA format. The citations should be organized in alphabetical
order by author just as in an APA References page.
• Follow the citation with a brief annotation that (1) summarizes the source (approx. 3-5
sentences) and (2) explain the source’s relevance and importance to your topic (1-2
sentences). Each annotation should be approximately 100-150 words in length.
• Do not copy and paste the abstract, or use direct quotes from the article. The entire
annotation must be in your own words.
• Include a statement of your topic so that I can evaluate the appropriateness of the articles
for your topic.

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