Life History Theory

Kruger, D. J., Munsell, M.A., & French-Turner, T. (2011). Using a life history framework to understand the relationship between neighborhood structural deterioration and adverse birth outcomes. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 5, 260-274.

Life History Theory is a powerful framework for understanding how evolved functional adaptations to environmental conditions influence variation in significant life outcomes. Features indicating relatively high extrinsic mortality rates and unpredictability of future outcomes are associated with relatively faster life history strategies. Regulatory mechanisms that facilitated reproductive success in ancestral environments may contribute to adverse birth outcomes in modern technologically advanced populations. Adverse local environmental conditions may reduce maternal somatic investment in gestating offspring, consistent with long-term maternal interests. In this study, we demonstrated a relationship between neighborhood structural deterioration and adverse birth outcomes in Flint, Michigan, USA. We used Geographical Information Systems software to calculate the density of highly dilapidated structures, premature births, and low birth weight births in .25 mile square areas. Controlling for parental education and type of health coverage, the degree of structural deterioration was associated with the concentration of premature births and low birth weight births.


Kruger, D.J., Reischl, T.M., & Zimmerman, M.A. (2008). Time perspective as a mechanism for functional developmental adaptation. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2, 1-22.

Evolutionary Life History Theory (LHT) is a powerful framework that can be used for understanding behavioral strategies as functional adaptations to environmental conditions. Some evolutionary theorists have described how developmental environments can shape behavioral strategies. Theorists and previous research suggest that individuals developing in relatively less certain environments will exhibit riskier, present oriented, behavioral strategies because of the low probability of reproductive success for more cautious approaches. An evolutionary psychology approach to LHT includes the identification of psychological processes that regulate behavioral strategies as a result of developmental experiences. This paper proposes that time perspective is one psychological mechanism that may underlie functional developmental adaptation. A survey study of urban middle school students (N = 607) assessed the relationship between perceptions of local social conditions, time perspective, and risky behaviors. Structural equation model analyses indicated that present and future orientations completely mediated the relationship of positive and negative aspects of students' neighborhood social environment with reports of interpersonal aggression and illicit resource exploitation This model had a better fit to the data than competing models depicting time perspective as a byproduct of either phenotypic strategy or social-environmental experiences.


Kruger, D.J. & Fisher, M. (2008). Women's life history attributes are associated with preferences in mating relationships. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 245-258.

Life History Theory (LHT) is a powerful framework for examining relationship choices and other behavioral strategies which integrates evolutionary, ecological, and socio-developmental perspectives. We examine the relationship between psychological and behavioral indicators of women's life history attributes and hypothetical relationship choices with characters representing short-term and long-term male sexual strategies. We demonstrate that psychological indicators of women's life history strategies are related to predicted and actual behaviors in mating relationships. Women with insecure attachment styles, especially those with negative evaluations of both themselves and others (fearful attachment), were more likely to consider men with attributes indicating short-term mating strategies for short-term and long-term relationships than women with a secure attachment style. Women with relatively unrestricted sociosexuality were more likely to predict they would have sexual affairs with men in general, with the tendency being generally stronger when considering men with attributes indicating short-term mating strategies. Those who scored high on self-monitoring were also more likely to predict having sexual affairs and short-term relationships with these men. These and other findings demonstrate the usefulness of a life history approach for understanding women's relationship choices.


See also: Evolutionary Demography
See also: Mating strategies
See also: Mortality patterns