KLI Colloquia are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. We offer three types of talks:

1. Current Research Talks. KLI fellows or visiting researchers present and discuss their most recent research with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

2. Future Research Talks. Visiting researchers present and discuss future projects and ideas togehter with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

3. Professional Developmental Talks. Experts about research grants and applications at the Austrian and European levels present career opportunities and strategies to late-PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

  • The presentation language is English.
  • If you are interested in presenting your current or future work at the KLI, please contact the Scientific Director or the Executive Manager.

Event Details

Gillian Brown
KLI Colloquia
The Evolution of ‘Universal’ Human Mating Strategies: A Critique
Gillian BROWN (University of St. Andrews)
2023-06-15 15:00 - 2023-06-15 16:30
Organized by KLI
You are invited to a Zoom meeting. 
When: Jun 15, 2023 03:00 PM Vienna 
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Abstract / topic description:

The field of Evolutionary Psychology has produced a large volume of literature on apparent ‘universal’ mating strategies in men and women. These Evolutionary Psychology accounts are usually grounded in the work of Darwin and Bateman. For instance, Bateman’s principles, which describe the relationship between mating success and reproductive success in animals, have been used to argue for sex-differentiated mating strategies in own species. In this talk, I will present i) cross-cultural datasets on human reproductive strategies, ii) new experimental data on human mate preferences, and iii) analyses of sex differences in personality traits, with the goal of critiquing narrow-sense Evolutionary Psychology. The talk will conclude by arguing that Evolutionary Psychology has traditionally relied on simplistic representations of how brain are constructed across the lifespan and the role of culture in human evolutionary history. Greater integration between the fields of Evolutionary Psychology and Cultural Evolution will increase our understanding of human behavioural variation, which is itself ‘universal’.


Biographical note:

Gillian Brown is professor at the School of Psychology & Neuroscience of the University of St Andrews. Her main research interest is sex/gender differences in behaviour in human beings and other animals from evolutionary and neuroendocrine perspectives. This research field is characterised by polarised debates between those who favour ‘biological’ explanations for sex/gender differences and those who stress the importance of social and cultural factors. She has consistently taken an inter-disciplinary approach, arguing that we need to understand how both physiological processes (e.g., early gonadal hormone exposure) and social environments (e.g., gender stereotypes) shape behavioural development across individual and evolutionary time spans. Her research has three strands: i) human experimental research investigating how sex/gender differences in performance on behavioural and cognitive tasks are influenced by stereotypes and social learning), ii) lab-based research investigating the effects of manipulating early gonadal hormone levels on behavioural development in infant, juvenile and adolescent rodents and non-human primates, and iii) theoretical research showing that we can apply evolutionary theory to understanding human behaviour in a way that avoids deterministic accounts and acknowledges the role of culture in the evolutionary process.