Hunting Hypothesis - Provisioning Hypothesis - The Show-Off Hypothesis

The Show-Off Hypothesis

The show-off hypothesis is the concept that more successful men have better mate options. The idea relates back to the fact that meat, the result of hunting expeditions, is a distinct resource in that it comes in large quantities that more often than not the hunter’s own family is not able to consume in a timely manner so that the meat doesn’t go sour. Also the success of hunting is unpredictable whereas berries and fruits, unless there is a drought or a bad bush, are fairly consistent in seasonality. Kristen Hawkes argues that women favor neighbors opting for men who provide the advantageous, yet infrequent meat feasts. These women may profit from alliance and the resulting feasts, especially in times of shortage. Hawkes suggests that it would be beneficial for women to reward men who employ the “show-off strategy” by supporting them in a dispute, caring for their offspring, or providing sexual favors. The benefits women may gain from their alignment lie in favored treatment of the offspring spawned by the show-off from neighbors. Buss echoes and cites Hawke’s thoughts on the show-off’s benefits in sexual access, increased likelihood of having children, and the favorable treatment his children would receive from the other members of the society. Hawkes also suggests that show-offs are more likely to live in large groups and thus be less susceptible to predators. Show-offs gain more benefits from just sharing with their family (classical fitness) in the potential favorable treatment from the community and reciprocal altruism from other members of the community.

Hawkes uses the Ache people of Paraguay as evidence for the Show-off hypothesis. Food acquired by men was more widely distributed across the community and inconsistent resources that came in large quantities when acquired were also more widely shared.

While this is represented in the Ache according to Hawkes, Buss notes that this trend is contradicted in the Hadza who evenly distribute the meat across all members of their population and whose hunters have very little control over the distribution. In the Hadza the show-off hypothesis does not have to do with the resources that result from hunting, but from the prestige and risk that is involved in big game hunting. There are possible circuitous benefits such as protection and defense.

Read more about this topic:  Hunting Hypothesis, Provisioning Hypothesis

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