A Journey through Time and Space: Examining the Influence of Contextual Factors on the Ontogeny of Human Life History Strategies
AuthorCabeza De Baca, Tomás
Life History Theory
Family & Consumer Sciences
AdvisorFigueredo, Aurelio José
Ellis, Bruce J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractResearchers must consider the role of context when examining the behavior and characteristics of an individual. An individual must alter development, characteristics, and behavior, to adequately meet the challenges presented within their ecology. The following dissertation presents three manuscripts that examine individual differences while considering the role ecological (spatial) and developmental (temporal) context plays on the individual. Each paper utilizes Life History Theory to examine and to integrate the study findings into a cohesive framework. Life history theory is an evolutionary-developmental theory that focuses on how allocation of bioenergetic and material resources to different developmental facets will have long-term implications for behavior, traits, and health. Each paper collectively highlights key contextual factors throughout the lifespan and seeks to understand how life history strategies emerge. Study I examined the role mother's behavior had on the development of the child unpredictability schema (i.e., worldview where children view their environment and others as unreliable). The study included 65 children and their mothers. Results revealed that child unpredictability schema was predicted by mother's mating and parental effort. A quadratic effect was also found, whereby child unpredictability schema became constant at lower levels of parental effort. Study II utilized retrospective reports of childhood parental effort from extended kin family, positive emotional environment, and traditional social values from a sample of 200 Mexican and Costa Rican college students. High levels of childcare assistance from patrilineal and matrilineal kin were associated with more positive family environment, and the association was partially mediated between kin care and slow life history. Positive associations were also found between matrilineal kin childcare and traditional Latin social values. Study III utilized a nationally-representative, all-female sample to test whether higher reproductive effort increases physical/mental deterioration in women. Results reveal that reproductive effort and illness were mediated by both antioxidant defenses and inflammation. The results of the three studies broadly support hypotheses generated from Life History Theory. Contextual factors during key developmental stages have an impact on how an individual will allocate time and bioenergetic resources - thus contributing to specific behavioral life history strategies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Family & Consumer Sciences