Sexual selection and the opportunity cost of free mate choice

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The model of sexual selection under parental choice has been proposed to account for the control that parents exercise over their children’s mating decisions. The present paper attempts to formalize and advance this model with the purpose of providing a better understanding of how parental choice mandates the course of sexual selection. In particular, in the proposed formulation, free mate choice involves an opportunity cost which motivates parents to place their children’s mate choices under their control. When they succeed in doing so, they become a significant sexual selection force, as traits that appeal to parents in an in-law are selected and increase in frequency in the population. The degree of parental control over mating, and thus the strength of sexual selection under parental choice, is positively predicted by the size of the opportunity cost of free mate choice. The primary factors that affect the level of opportunity cost vary between society types, affecting the strength of parental choice as a sexual selection force.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
JournalTheory in Biosciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Female choice
  • Mate choice
  • Parental choice
  • Sexual selection
  • Sexual selection under parental choice


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