Change across the lifespan in a psychological measure of life history strategy

John S. Kubinski, William J. Chopik, Kevin Grimm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Life history theory predicts that people calibrate their reproductive strategies to local levels of environmental harshness and unpredictability. While previous research has established the importance of early life cues in the development of life history strategy, the degree to which life history strategy exhibits plasticity later in life is unclear. Using longitudinal data (total N = 479) from four archival studies and a recently validated psychological measure of life history strategy, we examined mean-level trends in life history strategy at the level of psychological phenotype between the ages of 7 and 60 and found that life history strategy slowed down linearly as a function of age. Highlighting the importance of sexual selection in shaping life history strategy, we also found that men had a faster life history strategy than women at all ages and that the magnitude of this difference was constant across the lifespan. Our findings suggest that life history strategy development continues even in older adulthood. We discuss the possibility that this occurs in response to the accumulation of biological and social (e.g. offspring, relationships) capital and information about local risks and incentives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Age
  • Life history strategy
  • Life history theory
  • Longitudinal study
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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