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
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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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    • "In contrast, data from the Polynesian island nation of Samoa, where transgendered male androphilia is predominant , have consistently and repeatedly supported this prediction. Samoan transgendered androphilic males (known locally as fa'afafine) exhibit greater avuncular (i.e., unclelike ) tendencies (VanderLaan and Vasey 2012; Vasey et al. 2007; Vasey and VanderLaan 2010a,b), even when compared with childless gynephilic men (Vasey and VanderLaan 2010a) and childless androphilic women (Vasey and VanderLaan 2009) who also lack direct parental care responsibilities. Several studies indicate that the avuncular cognition of fa'afafine is characterized by elements of adaptive design (VanderLaan and Vasey 2012, 2013a, b; Vasey and VanderLaan 2010c). "
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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). DOI:10.1007/s12110-013-9182-z · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    • "In sum, the analogy with masturbation does not strengthen the view that paraphilias do not reduce reproductive fitness. A final remark relates to Quinsey's observation that homosexuality may increase inclusive fitness through investment in genetic relatives by referring to findings in Samoan homosexual men (Vasey & VanderLaan, 2010). However, it was noted that, if such adaptation to support kin had evolved, a very strong effect would have to be apparent in the fitness of siblings (which is not demonstrably the case) and asexuality might be a better adaptation to divert resources from mating to care for siblings (Miller, 2000). "

    Archives of Sexual Behavior 04/2012; 41(3):539-40. DOI:10.1007/s10508-012-9956-0 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    • "In other words, erotic attractions may have facilitated alliances with older or younger same-sex individuals in competition for resources, including mates. Vasey and VanderLaan (2010) have found more prevalent helping behaviors among same-sex attracted males in Independent Samoa (called fa'afafine) consistent with the idea that traits beneficial to kin will be favored. A separate line of research suggests that mothers who have a gay son have more children on average (Camperio-Ciani, Corna, & Capiluppi, 2004), which suggests that male-male attraction may be a byproduct of a trait for maternal fertility. "

    Sex in college: The things they don't write home about, Edited by Richard D. McAnulty, 01/2012: chapter Sexual orientation and college students: pages 169-188; Praeger., ISBN: 978-0-313-38383-0
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