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Snopkowski and Ziker publish article comparing hypotheses of sexual initiation among Canadian youths

Kristin Snopkowski
Kristin Snopkowski

Associate professor Kristin Snopkowski and John Ziker, professor and chair of the anthropology department, published the article “Sexual initiation among Canadian youth: A model comparison approach of evolutionary hypotheses shows greatest support for extrinsic mortality cues, intergenerational conflict, and early life psychosocial stressor” in the latest issue of Evolution and Human Behavior. The article, published Feb. 19, tests hypotheses about the timing of sexual initiation among youths.

A series of evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed to explain the timing of sexual initiation in humans including extrinsic mortality, intergenerational conflict and early life psychosocial stress. Utilizing data from a national longitudinal study of Canadian youth, the article uses a model selection approach to understanding which variable sets are comparatively most predictive.

This is the first study to simultaneously compare and contrast the explanatory value of seven major evolutionary hypotheses on the timing of sexual initiation.

The authors found little evidence for relevance of father absence (paternal investment), but support for extrinsic mortality, intergenerational conflict, early-life psychosocial stress and prenatal factors in determining age at sexual initiation.

This research was supported by John Ziker’s 2016-17 Fulbright-Palix Distinguished Research Chair in Brain Science, and Child and Family Health and Wellness award, which focused on the intergenerational transmission of stress triggers.