#ECRPaper: Exploring the psychological side of fertility preferences

| April 7, 2016 | Leave a Comment

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Date of Publication: March 28, 2016

Year of Publication: 2016

Publication City: London, UK

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing

Author(s): Lisa S. McAllister, Gillian V. Pepper, Sandra Virgo, David A. Coall

Journal: Philosophical Transactions Royal Society B

Volume: 371

Categories: ,

The evolved psychological mechanisms of fertility motivation: hunting for causation in a sea of correlation

ABSTRACT: Cultural, ecological, familial and physiological factors consistently influence fertility behaviours, however, the proximate psychological mechanisms underlying fertility decisions in humans are poorly understood. Understanding the psychological mechanisms underlying human fertility may illuminate the final processes by which some of these known predictors have their influence. To date, research into the psychological mechanisms underlying fertility has been fragmented. Aspects of reproductive psychology have been examined by researchers in a range of fields, but the findings have not been systematically integrated in one review. We provide such a review, examining current theories and research on psychological mechanisms of fertility. We examine the methods and populations used in the research, as well as the disciplines and theoretical perspectives from which the work has come. Much of the work that has been done to date is methodologically limited to examining correlations between ecological, social and economic factors and fertility. We propose, and support with examples, the use of experimental methods to differentiate causal factors from correlates. We also discuss weaknesses in the experimental research, including limited work with non-WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) populations.


This article is part of the International Network of Next Generation Ecologists’ initiative #ECRPaper to highlight papers from early career researchers. Learn more here

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