Critical reflections on evolutionary psychology and sexual selection theory as explanatory account of emergence of sex differences in psychopathology: Comment on Martel (2013)

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

Martel (2013) proposed a metatheory, based on sexual selection theory and broad evolutionary psychological (EP) principles, to account for well-known sex differences in the emergence of common behavioral and certain internalizing disorders across childhood and adolescence, respectively. In this comment, I first enumerate several strengths and then offer 2 primary critiques about Martel's proposal. Martel provides an exceptional, integrative review that organizes several disparate literatures that hold promise to enhance understanding of such sex differences. At the same time, I raise critical questions regarding EP generally, and sexual selection theory specifically, as the metatheoretical framework chosen to bind together these different influences and mechanisms as drivers of the sex difference in different psychopathologies. Indeed, it is not clear that EP is necessary-nor does it provide unique explanatory power-to explicate the emergence of sex differences in internalizing and externalizing disorders among youth. Moreover, Martel's EP-based proposal pertains to adolescent-onset depression and social phobia but does not provide an explanation for known sex differences in other common childhood-onset and early adult-onset anxiety disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1260-1264
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological bulletin
Volume139
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • Critique
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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