The behavioral correlates of overall and distinctive life history strategy

Ryne A. Sherman, Aurelio José Figueredo, David C. Funder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Life history (LH) theory provides an evolutionary theoretical framework for understanding individualdifferences in maturation, mating, reproduction, parenting, and social interaction. However, the psychometric assessment of human life history has been largely limited to generalized self-reports. Using template matching, this article examines the relationship between personality differences associated with slow-life history (slow-LH) and social behavior in 3 archival datasets. Two of these datasets include direct observations of behavior in the laboratory, and the 3rd provides self-reports of behavior in real life situations experienced within the preceding 24 hr. The results paint a consistent picture of the slow-LH individual as engaging in numerous adaptive social behaviors. However, when "normativeness" (the tendency for most people to be normal in both the statistical and evaluative sense) is statistically removed from the LH scores, a slightly different picture emerges. Both slow-LH and fast-LH persons display a number of behaviors that may be either adaptive or maladaptive in different contexts. Specifically, slow-LH individuals tended to behave in a manner that was considerate, kind, hard-working, and reliable but also socially awkward, insecure, and overcontrolling. Fast-LH individuals came across as talkative, socially skilled, dominant, and charming but also unpredictable, hostile, manipulative, and impulsive. These results are consistent with the evolutionary interpretation of LH strategies as being adapted to systematically different environments rather than better or worse approaches to reproductive fitness overall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-888
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • K-factor
  • Life history
  • Mating strategies
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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