Human behavioral scientists argue that extra-pair copulation is adaptive in human females, as through extra-pair copulation, women can acquire good genes from other potential mates. This is suggested because it is found that women experience greater sexual attraction to particular extra-pair men, but not their own partners, during their highest peak of fertility (Gangestad & Thornhil, 2008).
However, recent genetic evidences cast doubt on such arguments and suggest that the rate of cuckoldry is very low in humans (around 1 percent). To achieve historical records on cuckoldry, scientists compare family specific Y chromosomal variation between men that based on genealogical evidence, are patrilineally related. “The surprising result of these new studies is that human extra-pair paternity rates have stayed near-constant at around 1% across several human societies over the past several hundred years” (Larmuseau et al., 2016). Greeff and Erasmus (2015) also showed that genetic analysis in Afrikaner families in South Africa shows 0.9% rate of cuckoldry and argued that “given the current data on historical populations we have to conclude that, at least for Western human populations, cuckoldry rate is probably in the range of 1%”.
So what does it mean? Does the rarity of cuckoldry in human historical records mean that women do not look for potential mates with good genes, or it simply means that human men are good in mate retention and anti-cuckoldry tactics? That’s the question that should be considered now.
Gangestad, S., & Thornhill, R. (2008). Human oestrus Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 275 (1638), 991-1000 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1425
Greeff, J., & Erasmus, J. (2015). Three hundred years of low non-paternity in a human population Heredity, 115 (5), 396-404 DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2015.36
Larmuseau MH, Matthijs K, & Wenseleers T (2016). Cuckolded Fathers Rare in Human Populations. Trends in ecology & evolution, 31 (5), 327-9 PMID: 27107336
Physical attractiveness influences mate selection across cultures, and youthfulness of women is associated with their future reproductive value and fertility. Men attribute importance to youthful features in females such as large eyes, small nose, higher pitched voice, and full lips and perceive these neotenous features as attractive. More feminine women report more frequently being guarded by their partners than less feminine and less attractive women; (Mate retention or mate guarding tactics are behaviors that men and women use to reduce the likelihood of their partner’s infidelity. For example, vigilance, monopolization of mate’s time, emotional manipulation, and derogation of competitors are just to name a few).
Additionally, men undergo hormonal (i.e. testosterone) age-related changes which are associated with decreased ability to attract mates, compete with rival men, decreased sexual motivation, energy availability, and a compromised ability to acquire resources. Men over 45 years report decreased sexual desire, sexual arousal, and activity.
In their recent paper, Pazhoohi, Jahromi, and Doyle (2016) showed that as men age, mate retention tactic use declines. Considering age-dependent testosterone decrease and the association of testosterone with the intensity of mate retention, they showed that men show a lesser degree of mate retention behaviors as they age.
However, one limitation of their study has been that they have not measured testosterone, as they state “The major limitation of the current study is the lack of direct measures of testosterone from male participants. Further investigations would be appropriate to test circulating or salivary testosterone levels and their relationship to mate retention behavior performed by men and at what age.”
Pazhoohi, F., Jahromi, A., & Doyle, J. (2016). Mate Retention Tactics Decline with Age of Iranian Men Evolutionary Psychological Science DOI: 10.1007/s40806-016-0046-8
Mary Jo Maynes, Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, and Ann Waltner, Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, briefly explore the notion of family across the ages in their concise book, The Family: A World History. Rather than tell the rise and fall of empires, the authors put the family at the center of their world historical story. Their main thesis in this book is that family construction is not natural, but instead is socially and historically constructed and these structures change over time in relation to social and political processes. The authors claim that the family structures affect the social, political and economical aspects of society and that in all places households have been and are the basic units of production, consumption and ritual. The authors write, “Cultural capital and religious values are also transmitted within families; families shape individual and collective predisposition and destinies. Arrangements made by and within families (such as marriage choices, or bequests of property, or decisions about educating children) contribute to social dynamism or stability, alongside and sometimes even more powerfully than economic systems, government policies, or intellectual movements” (X).
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Language is a unique feature of human beings. In addition to having the ability to use language, humans can conjecture about language consciously and even create realistic constructed languages from scratch. In How the brain got language, Michael A. Arbib, whose work has been influential in shaping the field of computational neuroscience, addresses the title question by exploring the multimodality of language and the Mirror System Hypothesis.
Arbib, a pioneering scientist who links computer science and neuroscience, argues in this volume that an interdisciplinary approach is needed to solve the problem of language evolution as it is “a puzzle of many pieces” (p. 4). He proposes an approach to the question of language evolution that differs from that of other linguists. He hypothesizes that language perception and production emerged from brain mechanisms that evolved to mediate practical non-communicative actions. This stands in contrast to the “speech-only” view of language evolution held by many scholars who consider the evolution from monkey vocalizations to human speech to be “purely in the vocal-auditory domain, without any role for gesture” (p. 179). He specifically argues for the importance of manual gestures for the evolution of the language-ready brain; these processes equipped early Homo Sapiens with the brain mechanisms that allow modern humans to learn languages.
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Book Review: Listen, Here is a Story: Ethnographic Life Narratives from Aka and Ngandu Women of the Congo Basin
When you look in the news for the Central African Republic you encounter stories about rebels, terror, civil war, murder, and bloodshed. But what are the other aspects of life in the region that no news agency covers? A journey to the center of the African rainforest reveals what happens and has been happening for many years to the region’s inhabitants. In Listen, Here is a Story, Bonnie L. Hewlett deals with the different aspects of women’s lives of the Aka foragers and Ngandu farmers in this region of the Central African Republic, specifically, and reveals the social, political, cultural, and ideological dimensions in life of these people, generally. There are few studies exploring the subjective experiences of women in small-scale societies, and this volume is one of them.
If Martin Brasier didn’t want to pick science as his occupation, certainly he should have chosen to be a novelist, instead! Professor Martin Brasier who is a palaeobiologist at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, in his book Secret Chambers: The Inside Story of Cells and Complex Life, takes us on a journey “to understand the complexity of the complex modern cell, and of the quest to rescue its hidden history from deep within the fossil record” (p. VI). Overall, in this book we learn about the formation and evolution of symbiosis between cells and the importance of symbiosis over the course of evolutionary history.
Pazhoohi, F. (2014). Secret Chambers: The Insider Story of Cells and Complex Life Ethnobiology Letters, 5 DOI: 10.14237/ebl.5.2014.237
Mankind has always been interested in the way people perceive the world and this has become one of its main concerns reflected in the fact that early explanations for visual perception date back to ancient Greece.
Studies of visual perception were pursued merely in the field of philosophy until the 20th century, when psychologists, and thereafter neuroscientists, formulated their contributions to this topic. But what are the recent theories and findings regarding visual experience and, what have been the recent developments in related fields such as the psychology and philosophy of visual perception? Visual Experience: Sensation, Cognition, and Constancy deals with important questions about visual perception that concern the philosophers and psychologists of our era, with a focus on the phenomenal appearances of size and color.
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Pazhoohi, F. (2014). Visual Experience: Sensation, Cognition and Constancy Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 10 (1), 204-207 DOI: 10.5964/ejop.v10i1.731