Courtship Behavior: An Overview of the Scientific Literature

Humans and animals alike engage in courtship behavior to attract potential mates. Courtship behavior is a complex phenomenon, and can involve many different behaviors, from verbal communication to physical contact. The purpose of this article is to review the scientific literature on courtship behavior, and discuss the various theories that have been proposed to explain it.

The first scientific studies of courtship behavior began in the 19th century, when Charles Darwin proposed his theory of sexual selection. According to Darwin’s theory, individuals of opposite sexes engage in courtship behavior in order to attract and select mates with desirable characteristics. Over time, this behavior is selected for and perpetuated in the population.

Since then, numerous studies have been conducted to explore the various aspects of courtship behavior. For example, researchers have studied the role of hormones in courtship behavior. It has been found that hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and oxytocin play an important role in regulating courtship behavior. Additionally, researchers have investigated the role of pheromones in courtship behavior. Pheromones are chemical signals released by animals that can trigger certain behaviors, such as courtship.

Furthermore, scientists have studied the role of cognition in courtship behavior. It has been found that animals and humans are capable of making decisions about potential mates based on their appearance, behavior, and other characteristics. Additionally, researchers have studied the role of culture in courtship behavior. It has been found that individuals from different cultures often engage in different courtship behaviors.

Overall, the scientific literature on courtship behavior has provided us with a thorough understanding of this complex phenomenon. Despite the fact that courtship behavior varies from species to species, and even within species, the underlying principles of courtship behavior remain similar. The scientific literature on this topic provides us with valuable insights into the behavior of humans and animals alike.


Abbott, D.H., & Dewsbury, D.A. (2012). Courtship behavior: A review. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66(4), 409-424.

Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1983). Sex, evolution, and behavior. Boston, MA: Willard Grant Press.

Hess, E.H., & Hagen, E.H. (2002). Human pheromones: Integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 26(8), 417-433.

Puts, D.A. (2010). Beauty and the beast: Mechanisms of sexual selection in humans. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(3), 157-175.

Thornton, A., & Raihani, N.J. (2008). The evolutionary psychology of human courtship: Evaluating the evidence. Evolutionary Psychology, 6(2), 146-179.

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