Avuncular tendencies and the evolution of male androphilia in Samoan fa'afafine.

Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1K 3M4.
Archives of Sexual Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.53). 10/2008; 39(4):821-30. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-008-9404-3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The kin selection hypothesis for male androphilia holds that genes for male androphilia can be maintained in a population if the fitness costs of not reproducing directly are offset by enhancing indirect fitness. Kin share some proportion of genes identical by virtue of descent. Theoretically speaking, androphilic males can increase their fitness indirectly by allocating altruistic behavior toward kin, which, in turn, allows kin to increase their reproductive success. Research conducted in Independent Samoa has shown that androphilic males (known locally as fa'afafine) report significantly higher avuncular tendencies relative to gynephilic men. Here, we replicate this sexual orientation difference, using a larger, independent sample, suggesting that the documented sexual orientation difference in avuncular tendencies in Independent Samoa is genuine. We also extend previous research by showing that fa'afafine exhibit significantly higher avuncular tendencies even when compared to a more closely matched control group that also lacks direct parental care responsibilities (i.e., gynephilic men with no children). Although the greater avuncular tendencies of fa'afafine relative to gynephilic men are consistent with the predictions of the kin selection hypothesis for male androphilia, further research is needed before deeming male androphilia an adaptation for promoting elevated avuncularity. Likewise, more research is needed before deeming elevated avuncularity in fa'afafine an evolved adaptation for promoting indirect fitness. We discuss these findings in the context of alternative evolutionary explanations for male androphilia (i.e., an evolved by-product of an adaptation).

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    ABSTRACT: The kin selection hypothesis posits that male androphilia (i.e., sexual attraction to males), although detrimental to reproduction (i.e., direct fitness), has persisted and evolved because androphilic males compensate by increasing their indirect fitness via increased investment in kin. In previous studies, Samoan androphilic males (known locally as fa'afafine) reported elevated avuncular (i.e., uncle-like) tendencies compared to Samoan gynephilic (i.e., sexually attracted to females) men. Their avuncular tendencies were also greater than the materteral (i.e., aunt-like) tendencies of androphilic women. The present study examined whether the avuncular cognition of fa'afafine was enhanced for maximizing indirect fitness. To do so, it examined whether fa'afafine had a stronger propensity than Samoan gynephilic men and androphilic women to invest in kin categories that would result in more reliable and substantive increases in indirect fitness (i.e., young, female kin) in hypothetical investment scenarios. In a forced-choice paradigm, although all individuals showed some degree of bias to invest in adaptive kin categories during non-frivolous investment contexts in which the consequences of investment were relatively non-trivial, fa'afafine showed greater adherence to the predicted pattern. In addition, shifting the context from frivolous investments, in which the consequences of investment were relatively trivial, to non-frivolous investments prompted fa'afafine to exhibit an enhanced preference, relative to Samoan gynephilic men and androphilic women, to invest in adaptive kin categories. These findings were consistent with the kin selection hypothesis and suggest that, although all individuals exhibit cognitive biases for increasing indirect fitness, the avuncular cognition of androphilic males has undergone selective enhancement to maximize the accrual of indirect fitness via kin-directed altruism.
    Archives of Sexual Behavior 03/2014; · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Samoan transgendered males are known as fa'afafine. Although Samoan women are characterized as the primary child care providers, fa'afafine report elevated willingness to invest in nieces and nephews compared to men and women. We hypothesized that Samoans hold unique transgender role expectations such that fa'afafine are expected to invest more toward nieces and nephews compared to others. Participants (N = 214) included Samoan men (30.23 years ±8.19), women (30.00 years ±10.93), and fa'afafine (30.25 years ±7.45). For a variety of child care activities, participants nominated men, women, fa'afafine, or all three of these categories of individuals as responsible for investing toward nieces and nephews. Participants also reported how frequently their family members asked them to perform these activities for nieces and nephews. Responsibility for performing these activities was typically designated for women; men and women viewed fa'afafine as least responsible. Men's, but not fa'afafine's, family members asked them to allocate investment toward nieces and nephews more frequently. These findings are not consistent with the transgender role expectation hypothesis. Discussion details how the findings contribute to the literature on child care in Samoa. Alternate hypotheses for explaining why fa'afafine report elevated willingness to invest in nieces and nephews are considered.
    The Journal of Sex Research 04/2014; · 2.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The kin selection hypothesis posits that male androphilia (male sexual attraction to adult males) evolved because androphilic males invest more in kin, thereby enhancing inclusive fitness. Increased kin-directed altruism has been repeatedly documented among a population of transgendered androphilic males, but never among androphilic males in other cultures who adopt gender identities as men. Thus, the kin selection hypothesis may be viable if male androphilia was expressed in the transgendered form in the ancestral past. Using the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS), we examined 46 societies in which male androphilia was expressed in the transgendered form (transgendered societies) and 146 comparison societies (non-transgendered societies). We analyzed SCCS variables pertaining to ancestral sociocultural conditions, access to kin, and societal reactions to homosexuality. Our results show that ancestral sociocultural conditions and bilateral and double descent systems were more common in transgendered than in non-transgendered societies. Across the entire sample, descent systems and residence patterns that would presumably facilitate increased access to kin were associated with the presence of ancestral sociocultural conditions. Among transgendered societies, negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality were unlikely. We conclude that the ancestral human sociocultural environment was likely conducive to the expression of the transgendered form of male androphilia. Descent systems, residence patterns, and societal reactions to homosexuality likely facilitated investments in kin by transgendered males. Given that contemporary transgendered male androphiles appear to exhibit elevated kin-directed altruism, these findings further indicate the viability of the kin selection hypothesis.
    Human Nature 12/2013; 24(4). · 1.96 Impact Factor

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