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Theoretical Pluralism and Historical Complexity in the Development and Maintenance of Socially Imposed Monogamy: A Comment on Kanazawa and Still

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In their article "Why monogamy?" Kanazawa and Still (1999) misrepresent my theory of monogamy as based on egalitarianism among males. I find that a variety of different interests at play in the development of mating systems and that monogamy is a complex, historically conditioned outcome of these differing interests. Because there are no powerful, theoretically-based reasons that specify the conditions under which monogamy is expected to occur, we must examine the detailed historical record for each documented case. I have found that egalitarian striving among males is only one mechanism in the development of monogamy in Western Europe. Other mechanisms include the efforts of some classes of women and a top-down mechanism in which the Catholic Church played a central role in the development of monogamy in the late Middle Ages.

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... below. 35 See Sanderson 2001 and MacDonald 2001, with Kanazawa 2001a, 2001b. 36 Kanazawa 2001a: ...
... 60 It is also hard to account for the spread and intensification of SIUM in post-ancient Europe where inequality was often more pronounced than in ancient poleis and, indeed, steadily increased from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries: e.g., Hoffman et al. 2002. Cf. already MacDonald 2001: 346. These developments occurred before the growth of human capital turned it into a decisive variable: cf. ...
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In what sense were the ancient Greeks and Romans monogamous, and why does it matter? This paper summarizes the physical and anthropological record of polygyny, briefly sketches the historical expansion of formal monogamy, considers complementary theories of mate choice, and situates Greco-Roman practice on a spectrum from traditional polygamy to more recent forms of normative monogyny.
... 20 Economic development is found to be negatively correlated with polygyny, suggesting that male resource inequality diminished with economic development. Whilst this argument has stood up well to preliminary criticism (Sanderson, 2001; MacDonald, 2001; with Kanazawa, 2001a,b), the apparent significance of " women's power " is hard to explain given that female choice cannot be limited to a prospective wife's own decision-making: if polygynous unions with resourcerich men are advantageous, a woman's kin can reasonably be expected to arrange a marriage pursuant to the same calculus of rational choice. 21 This suggests that women's power per se ought to be irrelevant to observed outcomes. ...
... 41 A much narrower hypothesis–that republican micro-states (rather than tribes or chiefdoms or micromonarchies ) instrumentalized SIUM to boost cooperation, or that high levels of cooperation in republican microstates promoted SIUM–would border on tautology as it would exclude most other (non-Christian) citystate cultures and thus merely re-state an empirical observation–about the co-existence of these features in Greece and Rome–in the guise of a theoretical prediction. This means that Kevin MacDonald's skepticism regarding overarching theories of SIUM and his emphasis on " complex, historically conditioned outcomes " may well be justified (MacDonald, 1990MacDonald, , 1995MacDonald, , 2001). We know much more about how Greco–Roman SIUM mediated, and was reconciled with, resource inequality. ...
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In what sense were the ancient Greeks and Romans monogamous, and why does it matter? This paper addresses this question from a transdisciplinary and global cross-cultural perspective. It considers the physical and anthropological record of polygyny, delineates the historical expansion of formal monogamy, and critiques complementary social science models of mate choice. This approach allows us to situate Greco–Roman practice on a spectrum from traditional polygamy to more recent forms of normative monogyny. Whilst Greco–Roman legal and social norms stressed the nexus between monogamous unions and legitimate reproduction, they accommodated a variety of men's polygynous relationships outside the nuclear family. Greco–Roman monogamy's historically most significant consequence was its role in shaping Christian and later ‘Western’ marital norms that eventually gained global influence.
... I agree with a lot of what MacDonald (2001) states in his comment. I agree that "there are a variety of different interests at play in the development of mating systems and that the actual outcome is a complex, historically conditioned outcome of these differing interests" (343). ...
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The disagreement between MacDonald and me recapitulates a recurrent debate in sociology about what sociology should be. I believe it should be science; MacDonald believes it should be history. We are therefore talking past each other, because one cannot be judged by the standards of the other. Science is not history. History is not science.
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Sexual risk behaviors have inspired profound ideas and effective teamwork. But as the early history of AIDS demonstrates, when sexual practice is part of the equation, the same bold thinkers may be stymied, or just silent. Safe sex and monogamy have been proposed as answers to a gamut of social problems, but there is frequently little consensus on what these terms mean. Sexual Partnering, Sexual Practices, and Health replaces myth and stereotype with meticulously documented findings on real people and their behaviors in their social, environmental, and individual contexts. Author Sana Loue examines the range of partnerships not only in the U.S. but also Europe and the developing world, focusing on both consenting relationships and exploitative sexual interactions: - Varieties of monogamy between consenting adults - Relationships involving multiple adult partners - Incest, pedophilia, and child marriage - Sex work, trafficking, and pornography - Fetishes and related behaviors. All chapters cogently address the health issues that arise from these arrangements, concluding with implications for research, prevention, and intervention. Throughout, Loue argues for a common language across disciplines and challenges her readers-therapists, health care providers, and policymakers alike-to rethink their assumptions about clients, their health needs, and the communities they represent. Dr. Loue's work is a truly significant scholarly contribution to a topic too often characterized by pseudo-science and ideological distortions. "Sexual Partnering, Sexual Practices, and Health" should prove an invaluable resource for researchers and community practitioners alike in helping understand dimensions of sexual practice, and designing more effective approaches to sexual health and violence prevention." -Earl Pike, Executive Director, AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Gerhard Lenski's ecological-evolutionary typology of human societies, based on the level of technology of a society and the nature of its physical environment, is a powerful predictor of various dimensions of social inequality. Analysis of comparative data shows that while some dimensions of the stratification system (such as measures of social complexity) exhibit a monotonic trend of increasing inequality with level of technology from the hunting-and-gathering to the agrarian type, others (such as measures of freedom and sexual inequality among males) exhibit a pattern of “agrarian reversal” in which inequality increases from the hunting-and-gathering to the advanced horticultural type but then declines with the agrarian type. Theoretical and empirical implications of the agrarian reversal pattern for the study of social inequality are discussed. I am grateful to Bernice McNair Barnett and Gehard Lenski for comments and to Patrick Nolan for advice on coding societal type.
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The consistency of physical attractiveness ratings across cultural groups was examined. In Study 1, recently arrived native Asian and Hispanic students and White Americans rated the attractiveness of Asian, Hispanic, Black, and White photographed women. The mean correlation between groups in attractiveness ratings was r = .93. Asians, Hispanics, and Whites were equally influenced by many facial features, but Asians were less influenced by some sexual maturity and expressive features. In Study 2, Taiwanese attractiveness ratings correlated with prior Asian, Hispanic, and American ratings, mean r = .91. Supporting Study 1, the Taiwanese also were less positively influenced by certain sexual maturity and expressive features. Exposure to Western media did not influence attractiveness ratings in either study. In Study 3, Black and White American men rated the attractiveness of Black female facial photos and body types. Mean facial attractiveness ratings were highly correlated ( r = .94), but as predicted Blacks and Whites varied in judging bodies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Physical attractiveness and its relation to the theory of sexual selection deserve renewed attention from cultural and biological anthropologists. This paper focuses on an anomaly associated with physical attractiveness-in our species, in contrast to many others, males seem to be more concerned than females with the attractiveness of potential sexual partners, perhaps because humans show far more age-related variance in female than in male fecundity. The resulting selection for male attraction to markers of female youth may lead incidentally to attraction to females displaying age-related cues in an exaggerated form. This paper reports cross-cultural evidence that males in five populations (Brazilians, U.S. Americans, Russians, Ache, and Hiwi) show an attraction to females with neotenous facial proportions (a combination of large eyes, small noses, and full lips) even after female age is controlled for. Two further studies show that female models have neotenous cephalofacial proportions relative to U.S. undergraduates and that drawings of faces artificially transformed to make them more or less neotenous are perceived as correspondingly more or less attractive. These results suggest several further lines of investigation, including the relationship between facial and bodily cues and the consequences of attraction to neoteny for morphological evolution.
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In Utopia the creation of traits in response to changing environmental conditions could occur ex nihilo,with no restrictions based on what had occurred in the past. There would be no discernible patterns in the appearance of new characters. But life is not like that. The paleontological and neontological records teem with evolutionary patterns, many repeated in disparate groups. Biological evolution is strongly constrained by what structures exist at each step of the evolutionary journey. Rather than new structures being created from scratch by genetic mutations, evolution involves “tinkering” with preexisting parts (Jacob, 1977). Furthermore, this tinkering needs to be carried out while the “machine is running” (Frazzetta, 1975), for the organism must remain viable even while these changes are occurring. Consequently, structural changes need to be made as rapidly as possible and to as few working components as possible. When complete, the organism must work as a fully functioning, integrated unit.
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The theory of sexual selection suggests several possible explanations for the development of standards of physical attractiveness in humans. Asymmetry and departures from average proportions may be markers of the breakdown of developmental stability. Supernormal traits may present age- and sex-typical features in exaggerated form. Evidence from social psychology suggests that both average proportions and (in females) "neotenous" facial traits are indeed more attractive. Using facial photographs from three populations (United States, Brazil, Paraguayan Indians), rated by members of the same three populations, plus Russians and Venezuelan Indians, we show that age, average features, and (in females) feminine/neotenous features all play a role in facial attractiveness.
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The western consensus is that obese women are considered attractive by Afro-Americans and by many societies from nonwestern developing countries. This belief rests mainly on results of nonstandardized surveys dealing only with body weight and size, ignoring body fat distribution. The anatomical distribution of female body fat as measured by the ratio of waist to hip circumference (WHR) is related to reproductive age, fertility, and risk for various major diseases and thus might play a role in judgment of attractiveness. Previous research (Singh 1993a, 1993b) has shown that in the United States Caucasian men and women judge female figures with feminine WHRs as attractive and healthy. To investigate whether young Indonesian and Afro-American men and women rate such figures similarly, female figures representing three body sizes (underweight, normal weight, and overweight) and four WHRs (two feminine and two masculine) were used. Results show that neither Indonesian nor Afro-American subjects judge overweight figures as attractive and healthy regardless of the size of WHR. They judged normal weight figures with feminine WHRs as most attractive, healthy, and youthful. The consensus on women's attractiveness among Indonesian, Afro-American, and U.S. Caucasian male and female subjects suggests that various cultural groups have similar criteria for judging the ideal woman's shape.
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This report presents evidence that sexual selection may favor developmental stability (i e, the absence of fluctuating asymmetry) in humans Subtle, heritable asymmetries in seven nonfacial human body traits correlated negatively with number of self-reported, lifetime sex partners and correlated positively with self-reported age at first copulation in a college student sample These relationships remained statistically significant when age, marital status, body height, ethnicity, physical anomalies associated with early prenatal development, and physical attractiveness were statistically controlled The strength of the relationships did not differ significantly as a function of sex It is unlikely that the relationships are generated by false self-reporting of sexual experience
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Psychological evidence suggests that sex differences in morphology have been modified by sexual selection so as to attract mates (intersexual selection) or intimidate rivals (intrasexual selection). Women compete with each other for high quality husbands by advertising reproductive value in terms of the distribution of fat reserves and by exaggerating morphological indicators of youthfulness such as a small nose and small feet and pale, hairless skin. Men's physical appearance tends to communicate social dominance, which has the combined effects of intimidating reproductive rivals and attracting mates. In addition to their attractiveness and intimidatory effects, human secondary sexual characters also provide cues to hormonal status and phenotypic quality consistent with the good genes model of sexual selection (which includes parasite resistance). Low waist-hip ratio is sexually attractive in women and indicates a high estrogen/testosterone ratio (which favors reproductive function). Facial attractiveness provides honest cues to health and mate value. The permanently enlarged female breast appears to have evolved under the influence of both the good genes and the runaway selection mechanisms. The male beard is not obviously related to phenotypic quality and may have evolved through a process of runaway intersexual selection.
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This study explored evolutionary hypotheses concerning extrapair sex (or EPCs: extrapair copulations). Based on recent notions about sexual selection, we predicted that (a) men's number of EPCs would correlate negatively with their fluctuating asymmetry, a measure of the extent to which developmental design is imprecisely expressed, and (b) men's number of times having been an EPC partner of a woman would negatively correlate with their fluctuating asymmetry. In a sample of college heterosexual couples, both hypotheses were supported. In addition, men's physical attractiveness independently predicted how often they had been an EPC partner. Women's anxious attachment style positively covaried with their number of EPC partners, whereas their avoidant attachment style negatively covaried with their number of EPC partners.
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Abstract—Several commentators have suggested that the attractiveness of average facial configurations could be due solely to associated changes in symmetry. If this symmetry hypothesis is correct, then averageness should not account for significant variance in attractiveness ratings when the effect of symmetry is partialed out. Furthermore, changes in attractiveness produced by manipulating the averageness of individual faces should disappear when all the images are made perfectly symmetric. The experiments reported support neither prediction. Symmetry and averageness (or distinctiveness, the converse of averageness) made independent contributions to attractiveness (Experiments 1 and 2), and changes in attractiveness resulting from changes in averageness remained when the images were made perfectly symmetric (Experiment 2). These results allow us to reject the symmetry hypothesis, and strengthen the evidence that facial averageness is attractive.
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We reported in this journal (Langlois & Roggman, 1990) findings showing that attractive faces are those that represent the mathematical average of faces in a population These findings were intriguing because they provided a parsimonious definition of facial attractiveness and because they supported explanations of attractiveness from the point of view of both evolutionary and cognitive-prototype theory Since our 1990 report, several alternative explanations of our findings have been offered In this article, we show that none of these alternatives explains our results adequately
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Scientists and philosophers have searched for centuries for a parsimonious answer to the question of what constitutes beauty. We approached this problem from both an evolutionary and information-processing rationale and predicted that faces representing the average value of the population would be consistently judged as attractive. To evaluate this hypothesis, we digitized samples of male and female faces, mathematically averaged them, and had adults judge the attractiveness of both the individual faces and the computer-generated composite images. Both male (three samples) and female (three samples) composite faces were judged as more attractive than almost all the individual faces comprising the composites. A strong linear trend also revealed that the composite faces became more attractive as more faces were entered. These data showing that attractive faces are only average are consistent with evolutionary pressures that favor characteristics close to the mean of the population and with cognitive processes that favor prototypical category members.
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Obtained physical measurements and subjective ratings from 80 undergraduates of various facial features for 20 adult male stimulus faces, and these faces were also rated on 5 personality dimensions, physical attractiveness, age, and "babyfacedness" by Ss, to investigate components and consequences of a babyface. The personality dimensions were designated as warm–cold, honest–dishonest, irresponsible–responsible, kind–cruel, and naive–shrewd; physical measurements included narrow–wide nose, full–thin cheeks, close set–wide set eyes, narrow–broad chin, low–high eyebrows, angular–soft face, long–short nose, high–low forehead, round–narrow eyes, small–large eyes, and not attractive–attractive designations. Results show that large, round eyes, high eyebrows, and a small chin yielded the perception of a babyish facial appearance. A weighted linear composite derived from the measures of eye size and chin width accounted for 57% of the variance in ratings of babyfacedness. Both measured composite and subjective babyfacedness ratings were positively correlated with perceptions of the stimulus person's naivete, honesty, kindness, and warmth. Findings suggest that the adaptive value of recognizing natural covariations between certain appearance cues and behavioral affordances may provide an explanation for appearance-based stereotyping. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Investigated, in 2 quasi-experiments, the relation between specific adult female facial features and the attraction, attribution, and altruistic responses of adult males. Precise measurements were obtained of the relative size of 24 facial features in an international sample of photographs of 50 females. 75 undergraduate males provided ratings of the attractiveness of each of the females. Positively correlated with attractiveness ratings were the neonate features of large eyes, small nose, and small chin; the maturity features of prominent cheekbones and narrow cheeks; and the expressive features of high eyebrows, large pupils, and large smile. A 2nd study asked males to rate the personal characteristics of 16 previously measured females. The males were also asked to indicate the females for whom they would be most inclined to perform altruistic behaviors and to select for dating, sexual behavior, and childrearing. The 2nd study replicated the correlations of feature measurements with attractiveness. Facial features also predicted personality attributions, altruistic inclinations, and reproductive interest. Sociobiological interpretations are discussed. (73 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Despite robust cross-cultural reliability of human facial attractiveness ratings, research on facial attractiveness has only superficially addressed the connection between facial attractiveness and the history of sexual selection in Homo sapiens. There are reasons to believe that developmental stability and phenotypic quality are related. Recent studies of nonhuman animals indicate that developmental stability, measured as fluctuating asymmetry in generally bilateral symmetrical traits, is predictive of performance in sexual selection: Relatively symmetrical males are advantaged under sexual selection. This pattern is suggested by our study of facial attractiveness and fluctuating asymmetry in seven bilateral body traits in a student population. Overall, facial attractiveness negatively correlated with fluctuating asymmetry; the relation for men, but not for women, was statistically reliable. Possible confounding factors were controlled for in the analysis.
Article
Theories of beauty were evaluated by requiring subjects to “evolve” a beautiful female face using a Genetic Algorithm. In this procedure, a computer program generated a small population of faces (first generation of phenotypes) from a set of random binary strings (genotypes). Genotypes specified the shapes and soft tissue anthropometrics of facial features. Each of the first generation of faces was rated by a subject (relative fitness measure) for beauty. The fittest genotypes then bred in proportion to their fitness, with crossover and mutation of the binary strings, to produce offspring which were again rated by the subject. This process continued until the most beautiful face, for that subject, was evolved. Forty Caucasian subjects (20 M, 20 F) were required to evolve their idealized beautiful female face using this procedure. The features and soft tissue anthropometrics of their final composites were compared to population norms. Also, the final composites, and different faces generated from the same data base, were rated for beauty by independent judges. The results support the conclusion that the concept of facial beauty is the result of sexual selection, and a beautiful female face has features and proportions indicative on high fertility.
Article
This paper presents historical evidence on marriage patterns in ancient Sparta, Rome, Early Christianity, and the Early Middle Ages. Monogamy occurred in all of these societies but there is a great deal of diversity in origin and function of monogamous mating arrangements. In the case of Sparta, monogamy arose as part of an intensively egalitarian, racially homogenous social structure which fostered intense cooperation and altruism within the group. In the case of Rome monogamy coexisted with pronounced social, political, and economic inequalities, and there was much more ethnic diversity at Rome than at Sparta. The case of early Christianity involved the spread of a more radical ideology of monogamy and sexual restraint among the lower and middle classes of the Roman Empire, but the crucial event in the Christianization of the West was the apparently chance conversion of a single powerful individual, the Emperor Constantine. In the case of the Christianization of barbarian Europe, the movement was spearheaded by a powerful institution and the acceptance among the aristocracy of Christian ideology. The revolution thus proceeded from the top of the society downward. These findings are related to a model of cultural evolution that emphasizes the irreducibility of social controls and ideology in maintaining egalitarian mating practices.
Article
The multiple motive hypothesis of physical attractiveness suggests that women are attracted to men whose appearances elicit their nurturant feelings, who appear to possess sexual maturity and dominance characteristics, who seem sociable, approacheable, and of high social status. Those multiple motives may cause people to be attracted to individuals who display an optimal combination of neotenous, mature, and expressive facial features, plus desirable grooming attributes. Three quasi-experiments demonstrated that men who possessed the neotenous features of large eyes, the mature features of prominent cheekbones and a large chin, the expressive feature of a big smile, and high-status clothing were seen as more attractive than other men. Further supporting the multiple motive hypothesis, the 2nd and 3rd studies indicated that impressions of attractiveness had strong relations with selections of men to date and to marry but had a curvilinear relation with perceptions of a baby face vs. a mature face.
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