Wiebke Neberich, Lars Penke, Judith Lehnart, and Jens B Asendorpf (2010)

Family of origin, age at menarche, and reproductive strategies: A test of four evolutionary-developmental models

European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 7:153-177.

Four evolutionary-developmental models within a life history theory framework were compared as to their predictions of the influences of family of origin on age at menarche and differences in reproductive strategies. Predictions of paternal investment theory (Draper Harpending, 1982), psychosocial acceleration theory (Belsky, Steinberg, Draper, 1991), polygyny indication model (Kanazawa, 2001), and child development theory (Ellis, 2004) were tested by structural equation modelling in an internet study of 439 women between the ages of 18 and 30. Results show that the existence of a father figure has an impact on the age at menarche, which influences the age at first sexual intercourse. The directions of influences confirm the predictions of paternal investment theory (Draper Harpending, 1982), psychosocial acceleration theory (Belsky et al., 1991), and child development theory (Ellis, 2004), but not the predictions of the polygyny indication model (Kanazawa, 2001). No significant associations could be found between age at menarche and other reproductive strategy markers; this supports one of the central assumptions of child development theory (Ellis, 2004). Instead, it was the age at first sexual intercourse, influenced by the age at menarche, the existence of a father figure, and participant's educational level, that was most critical for the future reproductive strategies.