Montag, 21. Januar 2013

The riddle of monogamy:

>Evolutionary psychologists have stressed, perhaps even overstressed, the philandering nature of men. In their defence, they often cite the fact that 84 per cent of world societies condone polygyny. (The implicit or explicit contrast is with the tiny prevalence of polyandry (0,5 per cent) which is often used to document the greater sexual appetite and sexual proprietariness of males compared with females.) But counting societies is not the same as counting people. The vast majority of the world's population inhabitat societies that prohibit polygyny and, even where it is legal, only about 10 per cent of men take multiple wives. A central question about human behaviour therefore is why men, who can gain such reproductive advantages from promiscuity and polygyny, in the main elect to be monogamous? As yet there is no definite answer, but there is no shortage of contenders. Some believe that monogamy was driven by women, some by men, but most agree that it was a compromise that benefited both sexes.<
Anne Campbell, A mind of her own, 2002


  1. "A central question about human behaviour therefore is why men, who can gain such reproductive advantages from promiscuity and polygyny, in the main elect to be monogamous?"

    It must be obvious to anyone but Anne Campbell, but when some men have multiple wives, others have none and are alienated from society. Monogamy is a social contract that allows for stronger social cohesion that in polygamous societies. Thus, monogamous societies have a powerful advantage over polygamous.

  2. Hello Mr Mangan,
    I am very happy that you have commented one of my posts. Your blogs are really interesting!
    I think you are right, that monogamy allows a stronger group cohesion. But maybe there are also other benefits of monogamy (beside this effect). Dunbar's very interesting research has shown, that among animals there is a strong correlation between monogamous life style and brain size. This means that strict monogamous animals with life long, stable pair-bonds have got the biggest relative brain sizes (or neocortex / brain ratios), serial monogamous animals have smaller relative brain sizes und promiscouitive animals have the smallest relative brain sizes. All other social factors have smaller influence on the brain size of mammals or birds (only primates are an exception). But maybe this factor counts also for human brain size differences (allthough we are primates). Maybe there is a point in the thought that between multiple wifes of a single male there are a lot of struggles and maybe this has a negative effect for the emotional relationship between the man and his wifes, in a way that a man can get much more emotional (and maybe also cognitive) support from a monogamous relationship than from a polgynous.
    I think the stronger group cohesion is one factor, but I also think it's not the only factor.
    Thanks for your comment and Greetings

  3. Thanks, Mr. Schmidt, I was unaware of the correlation between brain size and monogamy.


  5. Evolution in the social brain / Shulz & Dunbar:

    The evolution of the social brain anthropoid primates contrast with other vertebrates / Shulz & Dunbar

    Maybe there is also a link between r-K life strategy and monogamy.

  6. If there are no big struggles for mates, mating effort could be reduced and males could more concentrate on somatic, parental and nepotistic effort. (this is typical for K life strategy)