Tough question about mates

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Tough question about mates

Postby primate123 on March 9th, 2007, 11:35 pm 

Let see if you guys can answer one of the hardest and challenge question i have to offer to you.

I present you with the statistic that one in four children are not fathered by the man who thinks he fathered them, and in fact, women who cheat are 80% less likely to use birth control with the invader male, even if they use it with their sanctioned mate. How might you explain this behavior

For me i think that no matter what, the women will still have sex with other man because if they get preg. the woman will say to his man that he was the one that got her preg. i think it happen in hunter and gather society and non-industra society.

I find this question to be a little tricky for an anthropology student.

Postby cloudy-a on March 12th, 2007, 2:08 pm 

Hm, it might have to do with wanting to mix up her offspring's gene pool a bit, to give more of her offspring a chance at survival and further propagation. Females tend to "cheat" with men they find attractive and thus would want to bear his offspring as a means of ensuring survival for the resulting offspring.

All of this is off the top of my head and not clearly thought out so I apologize if the language is a bit vague.

Postby Chaniir on March 12th, 2007, 4:27 pm 

I'll agree with cloudy-a, and if you are open to suggestions and assumptions from someone who does not really have this as a profession but finds it interesting, read on:

The behavior might as well be an instinct - to find the best possible father for the kids. The male's "assignment" is to father as many as possible, bringing his genes on, and the assignment of the female is to raise healthy children - basic biology. We are a social specie, and as it is now - we live (mainly) in a relationship with the same person our whole lives. But this might cause trouble - the woman who has already made a choice of husband may regret it (either because it is suddenly found he has an illness/weakness etc - or that she simply finds someone better). In that case she will probably feel morally obligated to stick with her husband, but if her morals allow her - she might breed with someone else, just to get the best "result." But personally I cannot believe too many at least in the western world would do this..? Or am I gravely mistaken :)

Where is the survey from?

Also, it could be a way of getting security? This will vary from place to place and time to time - but it might be the mother knows if she gives birth to that persons baby he could offer her some sort of protection, either if he knows it or not - or possibly after she divorces her present husband etc?

As to women not using birth control I have no idea. She might do it intentionally in certain cases??? Or she wants to be more careful with her relationship with the man she actually loves and is trying to do everything to prevent any problems at all - like an unwanted child. And when in bed with her lover she is more passionate and does not think of things like these for different reasons?

Postby wolfhnd on March 13th, 2007, 10:40 pm 

Faithfulness has been extensively studied in birds. I have provided two links of thousands you will find with a simple search of the Internet. ... mating.htm

My suspicion is that we are asking the wrong question, why is sexual faithfulness important to us. Why wouldn't we want our wives to have the best genes available for their offspring? Is there any reason to believe that raising adopted children is less rewarding than raising our biological offspring? We know that many animals simply kill off the existing young when they take over a pride etc. Our we not suppose to be able to rise above those instincts. When asked many woman will tell you that they did not marry the most attractive man available to them but the one who could provide the best life. Anyone who choices the "best" mate for gene quality instead of the pleasure of their company is simply not making a choice that is easy to live with in any case. That said the reasons to be against promiscuity are not limited to emotional issues but include venereal disease and social order amongst many practical concerns.

Postby goingtothedogs on May 28th, 2007, 11:58 am 

The evidence is coming in that when women "cheat" it is one of two ways:

1) They are "looking for a bit of rough" in which case, statistically, they tend to take care not to become pregant.

2) When they do let themselves do become pregnant it is almost always with a "high status" male.

The evidence for this came from a study (for which, sorry, I can't remember the reference) in which the Y chromosome of the Jewish "Cohens" was studied. The Cohens were historically supposed to be all from priestly families, so the orignal point of the study was to see if this was true, in which case there would have been a certain degree of "relatedness" expected. What was found was that the relatedness was far too high compared with what would have been expected, i.e if all the "Mrs Cohens" had been faithful. The answer turned out to be that where Mrs Cohen had been shopping around, it was with other high status males i.e priests, i.e. other Cohens.

Doubtless (and perhapos someone can tell me of) this same effect showing up elsewhere that a name allows such a link to be made.
Last edited by goingtothedogs on May 29th, 2007, 4:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

Postby Forest_Dump on May 28th, 2007, 6:05 pm 

I still am not sure why this is in archaeology but since hunter-gatherer societies were mentioned and this is one of my topics, I will address it. Many hunter-gatherer societies certainly do not think in this way. For example, a man's semen is often not considered to be the cause of conception but instead nourishes the fetus. Far more often, patrilineal descent is simply not relevant. The only important thing is that the woman is pregnant and the ability to conceive and bear children increases her status and the biological father is not considered important. In matrilineal societies, for example, descent is reckoned through the female line, the father figure (including lines of inheritance) often come down through the mother's brother while mother's husband is more like a disinterested big brother. Patrilineal descent often plays more of a role in pastoralist societies (like the Jews and Muslims were originally) or in other economic modes when important property comes down from father to son (i.e., usually related to contexts where private property is more important). So even in hunter-gatherer societies that are more patrilineal, the actual biological father is not as important as who plays the major social role of father which is often someone else anyway. So the short answer is that in many of these societies, if you showed them the stats and even proof, they would shrug and not care - fatherhood is not dependant on a teaspoon of semen but in the social role of raising the child. To be honest, I think the fact that we care this much about the biological role of fatherhood is simply an anachronism that will (and should) eventually disappear in time. The social role that takes years to fulfill is simply far more important than the biological role that lasted one night.
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Postby BorisOfTerreHaute on May 28th, 2007, 10:36 pm 


I think the original intent was more focussed on current western society which has evolved so far from the ancient modes you are discussing. Sure, basic instincts from that time apply, but current societal norms don't particularly resemble those ancient times, and so the dynamics of the ancient insticts coupled with the very different current conditions make for a whole new dynamic.
Don't you think?

Postby Forest_Dump on May 29th, 2007, 5:02 am 

I would certainly agree that one role of anthropology is to try to understand the ways we think and how and why it came to be this way. Interestingly, the study of kinship systems was heavily influenced by Lewis Henry Morgan, a New York industrialist who was an early correspondant with Darwin. Morgan was also a huge believer in cultural evolution and his ideas (and books) were a big influence on Marx who based his ideas on cultural evolution on Morgan's book "Primitive Society". Up until the last couple of decades, the study of kinship systems was a central component of anthropology.

Not surprisingly, then (given this history), the primary focus of a lot of this research has indeed been on economic rationalisation and even determinism. Now we could even include a lot of this under "structuralism" which would be like the idea of "memes". In short, the line of these arguments is that economic concerns influence ideas about kinship. Patrilineal descent (the transmission of important things through the father's blood line, including both property and "name") would have become important in the ways we think count, after the importance of "private property" was accepted and came about to keep private property private.
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Re: Tough question about mates

Postby Percarus on July 20th, 2012, 3:40 pm 

This whole talk of unfaithfulness is very alien to me. Sure, you see it in the movies, and it is rampart with young people. But I would like to say that I have reached an age of maturity that actually sees any act of unfaithfulness as simply that, immature and as a cause to conflict only. Maybe it is due to decreased libido levels coming with age, I dunno. I guess religion establishes some deep profound morals on people - I was not always religious but I have come to realise now the impact it has had on fidelity. In relations to the topic I guess some men have the uncontrollable urge to propagate his male seed and it is not so much the fact that a woman chooses to abstain from the birth control pill but more because of the predatory seductive nature of the alpha male that gets a woman off guard when she is most fertile. Some men make sex the basis of the existence and hence the very act of 'conquering' married women is treated as a sport - a sport that innocent married women are little aware of and hence they may fall victim to such attacks.

primate123: Do you have a source for your research that may discuss the variables and parameters in detail? Was this study primarily composed of developing nation data, was it a world wide survey, or was it an American survey? We would like to know.

Re: Tough question about mates

Postby genemachine on October 20th, 2012, 6:12 am 

primate123 wrote:I present you with the statistic that one in four children are not fathered by the man who thinks he fathered them

I think you are mistaken about the prevalence rates. The rate is more typically 3-5%. The 25% you cite may be the percentage of negative paternity tests when there is pre-existing doubt or uncertainty. Also, a good share of that 3-5% are less confident of paternity than the remaining 95-97%.

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