Re: Male Parental Investment

Tim Benham (
Sun, 9 Jul 1995 09:58:55 GMT

Barbara Saunders ( wrote:
: In article <> (Tim Benham) writes:
: >In <> liz <> wrote:
: >
: >: In fact, if you are going to talk about evolution, do it with the facts.
: >: The history of the world is not filled with monogamously-paired couples,
: >: but with men who had sex with lots of different women. A man who was
: >: *not* monogamous was far, far more likely to have *more* offspring.
: >
: >I'd be interested to see your sources for this claim. Here's what
: >some anthropologists and psychologists have to say about it:

: Technical point: "monogamously-paired couple" does not necessarily
: mean *sexually exclusive couples. Pair-bonding in living, forming
: social interactions, etc., doesn't mean limiting *sex to that couple.

It was Liz who put "monogamously-paired" in opposition to "men who had
sex with lots of different women", not I. It would have been more
apposite if she had said "women who had sex with lots of different
men" because the primary glue of the ancestral pair bond was female
fidelity, not male fidelity. For the pair bond to be worth males'
investing it must yield a situation where the children of the union
are very likely his. Investing his resources in nurturing another
man's children is, genetically speaking, a double disaster. The
discovery of sexual infidelity by his partner is the event most likely
to provoke jealousy in men in most cultures, frequently manifesting
itself as violent rages. (see, e.g. Buss, _The Evolution of Desire_).

This is not to say that women were (or, heaven forbid, should be)
always faithful to their partners. The fact that MPI evolved at all
though, indicates that they usually were sufficiently faithful that
men were usually right in assuming that their partners' children were
also theirs. It is certainly the case that it was sometimes in women's
interests to stray from their partners, but when they did so they
would have employed deception to avert the possibly disastrous
consequences of discovery.

This will be my last post on this topic for now.

: Barbara
: >

People who like this sort of thing
will find this the sort of thing they like.
Tim J.Benham