Sexual selection and the evolution of altruism: males are more altruistic and cooperative towards attractive females
Explaining altruism through an evolutionary lens has been a challenge for evolutionary theorists. Where altruism towards kin is well understood through kin selection, altruism towards non-kin is an evolutionary puzzle. Contemporary research has found that, through a game-theoretic framework, sexual selection could be an explanation for the evolution of altruism. Research suggests that males are more altruistic towards females they are interested in engaging with, sexually or romantically when distributing stakes in economic games. This study, adopting a between-groups design, tested the sexual selection explanation for altruism by asking participants to self-report altruistic and cooperative intention when reading moral scenarios accompanied by attractive or unattractive images. We find that participants, particularly males, report being more altruistic and cooperative when viewing an attractive image of a female. This study replicates the sexual selection hypothesis in explaining altruism through an alternative experimental framework to game theory.