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


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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    • "To date, a number of studies have examined the kin selection hypothesis by testing the prediction that males who exhibit samesex sexual partner preference should show greater willingness to invest in close kin than individuals who exhibit opposite-sex sexual partner preference. Research focusing on transgender samesex attracted natal males known as fa'afafine 1 in the Polynesian island nation of Samoa have repeatedly supported this prediction, finding that such males are significantly more willing to perform avuncular (uncle-like) behavior compared to opposite-sex attracted Samoan males (VanderLaan & Vasey, 2012; Vasey, Pocock, & VanderLaan, 2007; Vasey & VanderLaan, 2010) andopposite-sexattractedSamoanfemales(Vasey&VanderLaan, 2009). In contrast, research focusing on cisgender androphilic men (i.e., gay men) has repeatedly failed to support this prediction in a number of countries, including the United States (Bobrow & Bailey, 2001), United Kingdom (Rahman & Hull, 2005), Canada (Abild, VanderLaan, & Vasey, 2014; Forrester, VanderLaan, Parker, & Vasey, 2011), and Japan (Vasey & VanderLaan, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Androphilia refers to sexual attraction and arousal toward males whereas gynephilia refers to sexual attraction and arousal toward females. This study tested the adaptive feminine phenotype model of the evolution of male androphilia via kin selection, which posits that the development of an evolved disposition toward elevated kin-directed altruism among androphilic males is contingent on the behavioral expression of femininity. Gynephilic men, androphilic women, and androphilic men (N = 387) completed measures of childhood and adulthood gender expression and concern for kin's well-being. Adulthood femininity correlated positively with uncle/aunt-like tendencies among androphilic men and women. Although androphilic women reported greater willingness to invest in nieces and nephews than gynephilic and androphilic men, mediation analyses indicated that adult femininity completely mediated these group differences. In addition, changes in the expression of femininity between childhood and adulthood were associated with parallel changes in concern for the well-being of kin among androphilic men. Thus, these findings suggest that femininity is key to the expression of kin-directed altruism among androphilic males and may have been important in the evolution of male androphilia.
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Human Nature
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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). "

    Preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
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