Coalitional Value of Formidable Men in Hostile and Desperate Ecologies

EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 14, Special Issue 1, 2024

Coalitional Value of Formidable Men in Hostile and Desperate Ecologies

Mitch Brown, Kaitlyn Boykin, & Frankie Difiore

Perceivers consider the potential costs and benefits of men based on inferences of their physical formidability. Such inferences could implicate these men as affording coalitional protection, albeit at the risk of intragroup exploitation from formidable men. Whether formidability appears costly could vary across ecological contexts. We tested competing predictions on the signal value of strong men across different ecologies, with a preference for strong men in desperate ecologies representing a bodyguard hypothesis (i.e., benefits exceed the costs) and an aversion to strong men in these ecologies representing exploitation reduction. Participants evaluated the parental and coalitional affordances of strong and weak men described as living in a desperate or hopeful ecology. Consonant with bodyguard hypotheses, strong men further appeared as more effective community leaders in both ecologies, but the effect was larger in desperate ecologies. Strength further tracked perceptions of men’s effectiveness as fathers in various domains. We frame these findings in light of how different components of men’s formidability offer a unique signal value.


How to cite this article:
Brown, M., Boykin, K., & Difiore, F. (2024). Coalitional value of formidable men in hostile and desperate ecologies. The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium14(Sp. Iss. 1), 1-13.