Why do men marry and why do they stray?

Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 5.29). 08/2007; 274(1618):1643-9. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.0437
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Humans are quite unusual compared to other great apes in that reproduction typically takes place within long-term, iteroparous pairings--social arrangements that have been culturally reified as the institution of marriage. With respect to male behaviour, explanations of marriage fall into two major schools of thought. One holds that marriage facilitates a sexual division of labour and paternal investment, both important to the rearing of offspring that are born helpless and remain dependent for remarkably long periods (provisioning model). And the other suggests that the main benefits which men receive from entering into marriage derive from monopolizing access to women's fertility (mating effort model). In this paper, we explore extramarital sexual relationships and the conditions under which they occur as a means of testing predictions derived from these two models. Using data on men's extramarital sexual relationships among Tsimane forager-horticulturists in lowland Bolivia, we tested whether infidelity was more common when men had less of an opportunity to invest in their children or when they risked losing less fertility. We found that Tsimane men appear to be biasing the timing of their affairs to when they are younger and have fewer children, supporting the provisioning model.

Download full-text


Available from: Michael Gurven, Jun 27, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Physical strength and physical attractiveness are both hypothesized as indicators of overall phenotypic condition in humans. Strategic Pluralism Theory (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000) predicts that men’s orientation toward uncommitted mating is facultatively calibrated (i.e. contingently adjusted over ontogeny) in response to condition-dependent physical features, such as strength and attractiveness. Herein, we suggest that previous research bearing on this hypothesis has been limited because (a) researchers have often neglected to distinguish between mating orientations and past sexual behavior and (b) sample sizes have not always been large enough to reliably detect correlations of moderate magnitude. To address these issues and extend previous findings, we present aggregated data from three independent samples of young adults that permit us to examine multiple measures of physical strength and attractiveness in relation to uncommitted mating orientation, committed mating orientation, and past sexual behavior. As predicted, meta-analyses across samples demonstrated that strength and attractiveness were positively correlated with men’s (but not women’s) uncommitted mating orientation (but not their committed mating orientation). In addition, strength (in men only) and attractiveness (in both sexes) positively predicted participants’ number of past sex partners. Moreover, path analyses demonstrated that the association of men’s physical features with their number of sex partners was mediated via uncommitted mating orientation. These results (a) provide the most extensive support to date for the hypothesis that men’s uncommitted mating orientation is calibrated to condition-dependent features and (b) clarify the sex-specific functional links among physical features, mating orientations and sexual behavior.
    Evolution and Human Behavior 07/2014; 35(4). DOI:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2014.03.002 · 2.87 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We argue that the fragility of contemporary marriages-and the corresponding high rates of divorce-can be explained (in large part) by a three-part mismatch: between our relationship values, our evolved psychobiological natures, and our modern social, physical, and technological environment. "Love drugs" could help address this mismatch by boosting our psychobiologies while keeping our values and our environment intact. While individual couples should be free to use pharmacological interventions to sustain and improve their romantic connection, we suggest that they may have an obligation to do so as well, in certain cases. Specifically, we argue that couples with offspring may have a special responsibility to enhance their relationships for the sake of their children. We outline an evolutionarily informed research program for identifying promising biomedical enhancements of love and commitment.
    12/2012; 25(4):561-587. DOI:10.1007/s13347-012-0081-8
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This work explores sources of conflict among forager-horticulturalist women in Amazonian Bolivia, and applies life history theory as a tool for understanding competitive and cooperative social networking behaviors among women. In this study, 121 Tsimane women and girls were interviewed regarding current and past disagreements with others in their community to identify categories of contested resources that instigate interpersonal conflicts, often resulting in incidences of social aggression. Analysis of frequency data on quarrels (N = 334) reveals that women target several diverse categories of resources, with social types appearing as frequently as food and mates. It was also found that the focus of women's competition changes throughout the life-course, consistent with the notion that current vs. future reproduction and quantity-quality trade-offs might have different influences on competition and social conflict over resources within women's social networks across different age groups.
    Aggressive Behavior 05/2012; 38(3):194-207. DOI:10.1002/ab.21420 · 2.27 Impact Factor