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Long-term mating positively predicts both reproductive fitness and parental investment

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Document pages: 12 pages

Abstract: Empirical data on the relations between mating and reproductive success are rare for humans, especially for industrial and post-industrial populations. Existing data show that mating (and especially long-term mating) can be beneficial for fitness, especially that of males. This finding is in line with the hypothesis of sexual selection operating in human populations. The present research expands on previous studies by: 1) analysing additional fitness indicators, including having children with different partners; 2) including parental investment in the analysis as another important marker of sexual selection; 3) analysing several mediators between mating, reproductive fitness and parental investment, i.e. age of first and last reproduction and desired number of children. The data were obtained in 2019 from a sample of parents living in Serbia (N=497). The findings showed that long-term mating (duration of longest partner relationship) was positively related to parental investment and number of offspring and grand-offspring. Furthermore, the link between long-term mating and reproductive success was completely mediated by the age of first reproduction and desired number of children. Short-term mating (number of sexual partners) was marginally positively related to the number of children participants had with different partners and negatively related to parental investment. No sex differences in the link between mating, fitness and parental investment were detected. In general, the signatures of sexual selection were weak in the present data, but those that were detected were in line with sexual selection theory. The present findings provide a deeper insight into the adaptive function of mating and also the mechanism of how mating is beneficial for fitness.

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