The biogeography of human diversity in life history strategy.

Aurelio José Figueredo, Steven C. Hertler, Mateo Peñaherrera-Aguirre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Controversial theories have been advanced (e.g., Rushton, 1985, 2000) relating “race” to human life history strategy: (a) different human populations (“races”) evolved in different physical and community ecologies; (b) these ecologies should at least partially determine the selective pressures shaping the evolution of human life history strategies in different parts of the world; ergo (c) different human populations (“races”) should be associated with different modal life history strategies. Although the argument seems plausible in its stark logical form, there were several limitations in operationalization: (a) the traditional “Big Three Races” used (Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid) do not correspond very closely to the five or six major population clusters identified by modern human genetics; (b) these “races” are neither discrete nor mutually exclusive, having many zones of overlap and interbreeding, making geographical boundaries fuzzy and imprecise; (c) fixing the “race” issue will still not directly address the fundamental premise of the theory that human life history strategy is largely determined by ecological factors. We therefore divided a sample of 141 national polities into zoogeographical regions instead of conventionally defined “races.” We only used regions for this analysis that were still inhabited mostly by the aboriginal populations that existed there prior to the 15th century AD. Although obtained by different procedures than those used originally by Rushton, these produced results that were surprisingly convergent with the basic premise underlying the original hypotheses. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)Public Significance Statement: This study found that zoogeographic regions explain much of the observed diversity among national polities in several basic dimensions of the physical and community ecology as well as in human life history strategies. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-26
Number of pages17
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • genetic clusters
  • human biodiversity
  • life history strategy
  • races
  • zoogeographical regions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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