As I surf the world wide web, I keep seeing the r/K Selection Theory being brought up. Curious, I delved more and more into the topic to figure out what it was all about. The more I learned about this theory, the more I began to realize what exactly made people tick; behaviors, preferences, and beliefs all began fitting together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle.
I was first turned onto r/K Selection Theory while reading Anonymous Conservative’s blog and then gained a better grasp on the theory from listening to Stefan Molyneux’s series on the subject. If you are interested in digging deeper into this subject (I highly recommend it), check out both these links. Be sure to bring a notebook!
What Is r/K Selection Theory?
We’re going to keep things simple in this post, so let’s talk generalities. The r/K Selection Theory focuses on the two primary methods of reproduction in nature; quantity versus quality. Two animals that help illustrate this point, that Stefan also regularly draws comparisons with, are the rabbit and the wolf.
Take a moment to really think about these two animals. Think about every aspect of how they live. If it helps, jot your thoughts down on a piece of paper.
After you’ve taken a few moments to think about these two animals, continue on with this article.
- They’re herbivores with near unlimited resources (never a shortage for grass).
- The virtually unlimited resources are a primary reason why rabbits are not territorial. This is also part of the reason why they opt for breeding often; unlimited resources means they’re not going to starve.
- They have no defense against predators other than running.
- They do not have any loyalty towards their group. It makes no sense for a rabbit to rush to the aid of another rabbit being attacked. Then you’d just have two dead rabbits.
- Because they can be killed so easy, it makes sense to reach maturity as quickly as possible so they can begin birthing children.
- Hierarchies are pointless in rabbit society.
- Rabbits lives are rather simple; eat grass and run away from danger. There’s no need to invest heavily in their offspring. As such, there’s no need to prove who’s the superior (alpha) and the best candidate for passing on their genes.
- They’re carnivores that must hunt to survive.
- Hunting requires more intelligence and training than grazing on grass. Due to the increased difficulty of hunting compared to grazing, more time is invested in training the offspring to survive.
- Because prey is limited, wolves must viciously protect their territory from intruders.
- While it might seem heartless, if another pack is allowed into their territory the supply of prey will be exhausted and both packs will starve to death.
- Wolves are monogamous/pair-bond.
- Because raising the offspring is so important for the continuation of the species, the wolves will pair for life in order to raise their young. As such, they will choose the best mate they can find to further improve their chances of birthing strong, healthy cubs. This process of choosing leads to hierarchies with an alpha male leading the pack.
- Wolves also wait longer before reproducing and generally have less offspring. If they reproduced early and often, there would be too many wolves for the ecosystem resulting in the consumption all the prey and starvation.
- Wolves are more complex.
- This is true for carnivores in general. Because carnivores typically live in groups, they must have more sophisticated ways to communicate. The same is true for their domesticated brethren. Look at a dog and you can easily identify if he is scared, happy, angry, or bored by his body language and barks. Can you tell the same moods on a rabbit?
What Does This All Mean to Us?
Now that we have fleshed some characteristics out between these two types of animals and their methods for survival and reproducing, let’s compile a general list of traits so this all make sense. If you’re astute, you will begin to see the similarities between these two types of gene selection and certain groups of people. Please note these are GENERAL traits adopted by the group as a whole. As always, there will be exceptions and overlap.
Now this is a basic list, but you should be starting to see parallels between these two animals and humans. We might be much more advanced than both of these animals combined, but we are still molded by the surrounding environment.
Humans naturally tend towards K-Selection, as most predators do, but once we reach a certain level of decadence, things can begin to shift. Since we are a naturally K-Selected species, a shift to more r-Selection behaviors has devastating results. Just as a lion can’t live off grass, we cannot sustain our society with a large percentage of the population acting like rabbits. The end result is a devastating collapse.
Is the r/K Selection Theory perfect? No, but it does highlight trends that develop under resource rich/sparse conditions. Even if you don’t buy into this theory 100%, you can still glean some valuable insights into workings of individuals and groups.
In closing, a society will always have r-Strategy and K-Strategy individuals. It is perfectly normal and even ideal. K-Strategy people are typically more traditional and function as the backbone of the society while r-Strategy individuals are more likely to pursue more creative endeavors. This, in theory, promotes a healthy balance to society. It is when the ratios get heavily skewed in one direction or another that things start to degrade. Yes, you heard that right, even a overly-skewed society in favor of K-Selection behaviors would be detrimental. You need your meat and also you need your veggies.
Again, I would highly recommend visiting the two links I listed at the beginning of this article as they really dig into the subject on a deeper level. I wanted to reference this theory as I am sure it will come into play in future articles.