Friday, 24 January 2014

Modern women and fertility: Mis-match - ancient psychology, modern conditions

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Insofar as human nature has been shaped by our evolutionary history, we are adapted with instincts that function to increase our reproductive success on average in the conditions of past societies.

But insofar as modern life differs from the average conditions of the past, so we will lose these adaptations - and may well discover that our 'stone age' instincts lead us to behave in ways that damage our reproductive success.

This is mis-match.

'Culture' can compensate for mis-match - or it can make matters worse.

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In terms of sexual behaviour in the developed world, it is very obvious that instincts are leading towards extinction, because people (specifically women) are not having enough children to replace themselves; despite that the society is so prosperous that an average woman could raise ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty children.

In fact, personal wealth is irrelevant since every child that is born in the developed world will, one way or another, be materially supported by 'the state' to survive childhood and reach sexual maturity.

Children will not be allowed to starve or die of exposure. Thus, at the individual (marginal) level there is zero limit of resources - only the limitation of biological capacity. For the past century plus, the more children that are born, the more resources that will be appropriated by the state to raise them.

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So there has never been a better time or place in the history of the world for a random average woman to maximize her reproductive success - and this is a task for which she has been shaped by hundreds, thousands, of generations of natural selection)

YET on average the modern woman in a developed country will choose to have about ONE child.

And that is what anciently-evolved instincts have produced in the context of modern conditions.

Mis-match.

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Is mainstream modern culture helping?

No - it is making the mis-match worse - chosen fertility is still declining among the women of The West.

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Could culture be a remedy - could culture fix the mismatch?

Sure. It could be and it does among the minority of women who are traditionally religious (among the major monotheisms, particularly)

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What does this mean?

That the atomistic individual woman, the self-gratifying isolated atomistic woman, operating in psychological detachment from human community; suffers an extreme and reproductively-fatal mis-match between evolved psychology and modern conditions.

So if 'modern woman' follows her spontaneous instincts in the 'modern world', she will (on average, under modern conditions) be led into reproductive death.

For women living in psychological isolation, anciently-evolved psychology plus modern environment equals reproductive death.

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But, a woman who lives in the context of a traditionally religious monotheistic community is able to trust her instincts; and under such circumstances she will (on average) achieve reproductive success - not extinction.

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NOTE: As a further example, women are not 'designed' (i.e. by natural selection) to choose who to marry (and thus who to allow the right of sexual access) purely as individuals; since in all known historical societies (but especially in agricultural societies) such decisions are made in a context of primarily parental arrangements - http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/parental-choice-determines-mating.html. Take female sexual decision-making out of this evolutionary context, and the mis-match between instincts and environment yields maladaptive decision-making - as can be seen in all societies of the modern, developed world.