Genetic interests, life histories, and *attitudes towards abortion

Jason Weeden, University of Pennsylvania


This paper presents a behavioral ecology view of contemporary American attitudes towards the morality and legality of abortion. It is hypothesized that divergent interests in and views on the availability of abortion services are driven by zero sum competitions both between more-promiscuous and less-promiscuous reproductive strategies and between strategies that are more or less likely to limit family size in order to increase resources for children. Exploratory regression analyses are presented showing that demographic and life-history predictors that are consistent with an interest-based perspective account for a meaningful percentage of the variance in abortion attitudes in two adult samples and a large percentage of the variance in abortion attitudes in an undergraduate sample. While these analyses cannot answer difficult questions of causation, they undermine frequent claims in social science that interest-based predictors tend to work well only in limited economic domains. Additional analyses are reported calling into question views that abortion attitudes are derived from more-basic views on fetal personhood and views that political and moral attitudes generally are derived in part from more-basic positions along a single liberal-conservative ideological dimension. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social

Recommended Citation

Weeden, Jason, "Genetic interests, life histories, and *attitudes towards abortion" (2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3087480.