Competition for Food and Sex among Men - Equality Versus Hierarchy

Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide - Hector A. Garcia 2019

Competition for Food and Sex among Men
Equality Versus Hierarchy

It should come as no surprise, then, to find that competition has shaped human political psychology in similar ways. It is only recently that humans have mastered food production such that billions can survive with little fear of starvation. But feeding ourselves was not always so easy in our ancestral past. Archaeological evidence suggests that periods of scarcity caused by environmental change or population explosions were not uncommon and compelled intergroup conflict and warfare among our prehistoric ancestors.20 And so, even though many of us now live in societies that produce staggering surpluses of food—not to mention epidemics of morbid obesity—our brains evolved amid the very real threat of starvation. This may be why conservatives living in obscenely overfed nations can still experience intense emotion over policies related to the distribution of food, such as welfare subsidies or food stamps, which in the United States are often utilized more by racial minority groups.21 It is probably no coincidence, then, that negative attitudes about outside races robustly predict opposition to welfare programs.22 Moreover, as with chimpanzees, warring with outside groups to control food sources has always been the enterprise of male humans. Thus the xenophobic, male tenor of conservative economic policies reflects a history of fighting with outsiders for the privilege to eat.

Evolutionary fitness, however, is not achieved by bread alone. Like other male primates, men also compete for mates, and the dynamics of male mate competition are equally relevant in understanding political orientation. To make sense of how mate competition forms the conservative stance, it is necessary to understand that men and women employ markedly different mating strategies.