Reproductive Success: BBS Call for Commentators

Stevan Harnad harnad at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Tue Jun 9 22:05:40 EST 1992

Below is the abstract of a forthcoming target article on reproductive
success and culture by Daniel Perusse. It has been accepted for
publication in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), an international,
interdisciplinary journal that provides Open Peer Commentary on
important and controversial current research in the biobehavioral and
cognitive sciences. Commentators must be current BBS Associates or
nominated by a current BBS Associate. To be considered as a commentator
on this article, to suggest other appropriate commentators, or for
information about how to become a BBS Associate, please send email to:

harnad at clarity.princeton.edu  or harnad at pucc.bitnet        or write to:
BBS, 20 Nassau Street, #240, Princeton NJ 08542  [tel: 609-921-7771]

To help us put together a balanced list of commentators, please give some
indication of the aspects of the topic on which you would bring your
areas of expertise to bear if you were selected as a commentator. An
electronic draft of the full text is available for inspection by anonymous
ftp according to the instructions that follow after the abstract.

        Testing the relationship at the proximate and ultimate levels

                Daniel Perusse
                Department of Anthropology
		Universite de Montreal
		C. P. 6128, succursale A, Montreal
		Canada, H3C 3J7

        Present address: Department of Human Genetics, Medical College of 
        Virginia, Richmond, VA, 23298-0003
        Electronic mail: dperusse at gems.vcu.edu 

KEYWORDS: status striving; novel environment; potential conceptions;
human psyche; achievement motivation; female choice; teaching biases;
sociobiology; French-Canadians

ABSTRACT: In most social species, position in the male social hierarchy
and reproductive success are positively correlated. This relationship
is less clear in humans where studies of traditional societies have
produced mixed results.  In the most economically advanced human
populations, the adaptiveness of status attainment vanishes altogether
as social status and fertility are uncorrelated. These findings have
been interpreted by many as suggesting that evolutionary principles may
not be appropriate for the explanation of human behavior, especially in
modern environments. The present study tests the adaptiveness of social
status with actual mating and reproductive data in a representative
sample of males from an industrial society. Results show that
reproductive success, even when assessed by a more reliable measure of
male fertility than the one commonly used, fails to correlate with
social status. In striking contrast, however, status is found to be
highly correlated with proximate components of fitness, accounting for
as much as 62% of the variance in male mating success. This effect is
remarkably similar to the one found in many traditional societies and
would result in a substantial relationship between cultural and
reproductive success in industrial populations were it not for the
novel conditions imposed by contraception and monogamy. Various
underlying mechanisms are suggested for these findings, and the value
of current behavioral and reproductive data is stressed for the study
of adaptation. It is concluded that evolutionary explanations of human
behavior remain entirely relevant in modern societies.

To help you decide whether you would be an appropriate commentator for
this article, an electronic draft is retrievable by anonymous ftp from
princeton.edu according to the instructions below (the filename is
bbs.perusse). Please do not prepare a commentary on this draft. Just
let us know, after having inspected it, what relevant expertise you
feel you would bring to bear on what aspect of the article.
   To retrieve a file by ftp from a Unix/Internet site, type either:
ftp princeton.edu
   When you are asked for your login, type:
   Enter password as per instructions (make sure to include the specified @),
   and then change directories with:
cd pub/harnad
   To show the available files, type:
   Next, retrieve the file you want with (for example):
get bbs.perusse
   When you have the file(s) you want, type:

   Certain non-Unix/Internet sites have a facility you can use that is
   equivalent to the above. Sometimes the procedure for connecting to
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   followed at the prompt by:
open princeton.edu

   In case of doubt or difficulty, consult your system manager.
   JANET users who do not have the facilty for interactive file
   transfer mentioned above have two options for getting BBS files. The
   first, which is simpler but may be subject to traffic delays, uses
   the file transfer utility at JANET node UK.AC.FT-RELAY. Use standard
   file transfer, setting the site to be UK.AC.FT-RELAY, the userid as
   anonymous at edu.princeton, for the password your-own-userid at your-site
   [the "@" is crucial], and for the remote filename the filename
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   The alternative, faster but more complicated procedure is to log on
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   on that site (named by you when you log on). The method for transfer
   is as described above under 'Certain non-Unix/Internet sites', or
   you can make use of the on-line help that is available. Transfer of
   the file received to your own site is best done from your own site;
   the remote file (on the UK.AC.NSF.SUN machine) should be named as
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   provided by you when you logged on to UK.AC.NSF.SUN). To be sociable
   (since NSF.SUN is short of disc space), once you have received the
   file on your own machine you should go back to UK.AC.NSF.SUN and
   delete it from your directory there.

   [Thanks to Brian Josephson for the above detailed UK/JANET
   instructions; similar special instructions for file retrieval
   from other networks or countries would be appreciated and will
   be included in updates of these instructions.]
Where the above procedures are not available (e.g. from Bitnet or other
networks), there are two fileservers --  ftpmail at decwrl.dec.com and
bitftp at pucc.bitnet -- that will do the transfer for you. Send either one the
one line message:


for instructions (which will be similar to the above, but will be in
the form of a series of lines in an email message that ftpmail or
bitftp will then execute for you).
Stevan Harnad  Department of Psychology  Princeton University
harnad at clarity.princeton.edu / harnad at pucc.bitnet / srh at flash.bellcore.com 
harnad at learning.siemens.com / harnad at elbereth.rutgers.edu / (609)-921-7771

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