What is it about?

A series of evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed to explain the timing of sexual initiation in humans including extrinsic mortality, intergenerational conflict, and early life psychosocial stress. Utilizing data from a national longitudinal study of Canadian youth (NLSCY), the article uses a model selection approach to understanding which variable sets are comparatively most predictive.

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Why is it important?

This is the first study to simultaneously compare and contrast the explanatory value of seven major evolutionary hypotheses on the timing of sexual initiation.


We find little evidence for relevance of father absence (paternal investment), but support for extrinsic mortality, intergenerational conflict, early-life psychosocial stress, and prenatal factors in determining age at sexual initiation.

Professor John P Ziker
Boise State University

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This page is a summary of: Sexual initiation among Canadian youth: A model comparison approach of evolutionary hypotheses shows greatest support for extrinsic mortality cues, intergenerational conflict, and early life psychosocial stressors, Evolution and Human Behavior, March 2020, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2019.08.003.
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