Life history variation and the preparedness paradox.

Life history theory (LHT) is a powerful explanatory framework illustrating how ancestral and developmental environments shape allocations of effort to fitness-promoting domains in nested sets of trade-offs. LHT has previously informed basic research on evolved human psychology and behavior, and it also has great potential for application to practical challenges and social concerns. LHT may help explain why there is typically a modest or null relationship between concern for environmental emergencies and the extent of preparation for needs during such an emergency. Experiences of more chaotic and hostile environments are associated with relatively faster life histories, and thus, people with faster life histories may have a greater fear of environmental disasters and emergencies. However, those with relatively slower life histories would actually be more prepared for the contingencies of these emergencies because they exhibit greater future orientation and a higher degree of planning. Data from a demographically and geographically representative health survey in the midwestern United States provided support for this hypothesis. Two indicators of environmental stability, a central influence on life history variation, predicted lower concern for emergencies but higher preparation for emergencies. Analyses accounted for sociodemographic characteristics associated with life history variation. General tendencies for future planning partially mediated some of these relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)