ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (2): 425-435.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00425

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


张阔1, 苏金龙2()   

  1. 1青岛理工大学人文与外国语学院, 山东 青岛 266525
    2南京师范大学心理学院, 南京 210024
  • 收稿日期:2021-04-07 出版日期:2022-02-15 发布日期:2021-12-24
  • 通讯作者: 苏金龙

Examining food choice of human females from the evolutionary perspective: The role of sexual selection

ZHANG Kuo1, SU Jinlong2()   

  1. 1School of Humanities and Foreign Languages, Qingdao University of Technology, Qingdao 266525, China
    2School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210024, China
  • Received:2021-04-07 Online:2022-02-15 Published:2021-12-24
  • Contact: SU Jinlong


性选择在人类心理、行为等表型的演化过程中扮演了重要角色, 但其对女性食物选择的影响却相对较少被关注。性选择塑造了男女不同的择偶策略, 男性择偶时对女性外在吸引力的关注使得女性更加重视身材等外在吸引力信息。而女性身材与饮食的密切联系, 进一步提示性选择过程应该会对女性的食物选择产生影响。以之为基础, 梳理求偶动机激活可能引发的女性食物选择的变化, 以及女性生理期不同阶段在食物选择上的变异, 有助于了解性选择过程对女性食物选择的影响。未来研究中, 进一步从行为、激素、脑等不同层面剖析对应影响及涉及机制, 对该领域的长远发展有重要意义。

关键词: 性选择, 食物选择, 求偶动机, 排卵期, 女性


From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, sexual selection played important roles in the evolution of human psychology and behavioral phenotype. For example, studies showed that both risking behavior in males and prosocial behavior in females were partly shaped by sexual selection. However, the influence of sexual selection on females’ food choice has not been given much attention or systematically examined. As we know, food choice plays an important role in body shaping. Body mass is directly related to intake of high-fat food. To lose weight or shape body figure, many females look to dieting and healthy food intake. Also, females’ body mass and body shape are related to health and reproductive value. All the evidence suggest that food choice might be strongly selected by sexual selection in females.

To systematically explore the role of sexual selection in female food choice, two kinds of studies would help. The first kind of study is to experimentally manipulate mating motive and then record the change of food choice in females. This kind of study makes us possible to understand the causal relationship between mating-related cues and female food choice, which helps understand the role of sexual selection in female food choice. Theoretically, the salience of mating motive would make both males and females show signals that enhance their attractiveness in the eyes of the opposite sex. Since a low BMI and an attractive body shape are essential indexes of body attractiveness as well as signals of females’ reproductive value, and food choice contributes to fluctuation of BMIs and body shaping, it is not hard to speculate that priming of mating motive would cause an effect on female food choice. Meanwhile, we should diversify methods used to manipulate mating motive and explore the types of food that might be influenced by mating motive, so as to have a better understanding of the relationship between mating motive and female food choice. The second kind of study relies on examination of the fluctuation of female food choice across menstrual cycle. Female menstrual cycle is largely shaped by sexual selection and is accompanied by fluctuation of hormones such as estrogen and estradiol, which means relevant studies would contribute to understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the link between sexual selection and female food choice. However, the neurobiological basis of the relation between menstrual cycle and food preference has seldom been explored. Besides, sex hormones are regulated by human brain. Examining the brain substrates underpinning the above relation would be invaluable for further understanding the mechanisms involved. Also, human brain might interact with sex hormones in affecting the relation between female menstrual cycle and food choice.

In future studies, we need to examine the role of sexual selection in female food choice from different perspectives and explore the moderating roles of other psychological components in the relationship between mating motive, menstrual cycle and female food choice. For example, previous studies have showed that dinning environment, affective state, cognitive and social factors all contribute to food choice in females. The above factors might interact with mating motive and menstrual cycle to cause an effect on female food choice. Moreover, oxytocin and vasopressin are also neuropeptides that play important roles in maintenance of intimate relationship. Future studies need to explore whether these two neuropeptides also play roles in female food choice as well as potential interacting effects involved. Owing to the difficulty of directly unveiling the dynamics of sexual selection, we have to look to some indirect evidence to understand the true nature of the roles of sexual selection in female food choice. Meanwhile, a brain-hormone-behavior framework would help a lot to systematically understand the role of sexual selection in female food choice.

Key words: Sexual selection, food choice, mating motive, ovulation, female