Saturday, August 16, 2014

Getting the babes but not the babies


 


Still from the film Is Matrimony a Failure? (1922). Who's making more babies? "Good boys" or "bad boys"? Originally, the good boys were, thanks to parental monitoring of relations between single men and single women. The pendulum then swung toward the bad boys in the 1940s, only to swing back after the 1960s.

 

A recent Swedish study has found that "bad boys" are outbreeding "good boys":

Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense. Criminal offenders also had more reproductive partners, were less often married, more likely to get remarried if ever married, and had more often contracted a sexually transmitted disease than non-offenders. Importantly, the increased reproductive success of criminals was explained by a fertility increase from having children with several different partners. (Yao et al., 2014)

This study has been much talked about, yet few people have noticed its one big flaw. Sweden has many citizens of foreign origin whose crime and fertility rates exceed those of the native population (Crime in Sweden, 2014; Landes, 2008). Reproductive success may thus correlate with criminality simply because both tend to be higher among non-natives than among natives. Admittedly, this alternate explanation had been foreseen by the authors of the study and they tried to correct for it:

We included variables potentially associated with both criminal and reproductive behavior as covariates. [...] Immigrant status has been associated with both rule breaking, primarily through associations with other familial and socioeconomic risk markers (Moehling & Piehl, 2009), and adherence to cultural norms influencing fertility and monogamy-related outcomes (Coleman, 2006). The migration register provided information on immigrant status defined as being born in Sweden or not. (Yao et al., 2014)

Unfortunately, country of birth is no longer a satisfactory proxy for cultural identity, at least not in Sweden's case. There is now a large Swedish-born population that self-identifies as Pakistani, Somali, or Afghan, including the youths who rioted in Malmö last year. The Swedish crime rate is influenced almost as much by the Swedish-born of foreign background as by the foreign-born:

During the period 1997-2001, 25% of the almost 1,520,000 offences for which a perpetrator was convicted were committed by people born in the Middle East or Eastern Europe, while almost 20% were committed by people with a foreign background who were born in Sweden. (Crime in Sweden, 2014)

If we could examine only people of Swedish descent, I doubt reproductive success would still correlate with criminality or, more exactly, with a tendency to "love and leave" one woman after another. Such a correlation used to exist in the U.S. but disappeared almost half a century ago. This was the conclusion of Jason Malloy and JayMan (2012) when they used General Social Survey data to find out the number of children fathered by monogamous men ("good boys") versus men who had several female sex partners ("bad boys"). It seems that the reproductive success of bad boys has varied a lot over time:
 

Men born before 1920 - courtship under parental supervision 

In this cohort, good boys were the top breeders. No need to think hard to find the reason. Any man wishing to meet a single woman, other than a prostitute, had to run a gauntlet of parental supervision. The preferred form of courtship was still "calling." If a woman struck your fancy, you could "call" on her at her home. If she and her parents were favorably impressed, you could come back for further visits and eventually start taking her out to social events. Otherwise, that would be the end of it. A more direct approach could get you in big trouble, as a reference book for American lawmakers explained in 1886:

The state should punish, not only treacherous inducements to incontinence or to unchastity when accompanied by the violation of particular duties, and the seduction of minors, or girls under sixteen, but also seduction when it assumes a character dangerous to the interests of the community. It is not the duty of the state to make the individual moral, or to protect her against temptations to immorality; but it should endeavor to prevent all acts of immorality calculated to poison family life and the life of the nation. (Lalor, 1886, vol.III, p. 211)

The concern here is not just venereal disease, but also a family's genetic heritage. In the 19th century, people believed that a part of their essence was reincarnated in their children and grandchildren. Their concern over sex was fueled not by irrational hang-ups but by a very rational desire to maintain the integrity of their family line. Bad boys threatened that integrity, and it was not for nothing that many ended up in jail ... or at the end of a rope.
 

Men born between 1920 and 1939 - rise of dating, illegitimacy, and adoption

In this cohort, bad boys were the top breeders. Parental supervision had slackened with the replacement of calling by dating, thus creating new opportunities for them to sow their seed. A sharp rise in illegitimacy led to a sharp rise in adoption:

[...] The period 1945 to 1974, the baby scoop era, saw rapid growth and acceptance of adoption as a means to build a family. Illegitimate births rose three-fold after World War II, as sexual mores changed. Simultaneously, the scientific community began to stress the dominance of nurture over genetics, chipping away at eugenic stigmas. In this environment, adoption became the obvious solution for both unwed mothers and infertile couples. (Adoption, 2014)

Adoption had previously been very rare. As late as 1923, only 2% of children without parental care ended up in adoptive homes, the others going to foster homes or orphanages (Adoption, 2014). And a large chunk of that 2% involved adoptions between related families. These statistics are mirrored by my family tree: whenever children were left with no provider, they would be adopted by an aunt or an uncle or placed in a foster home. In those days, changing your family identity was as unthinkable as changing your religion or nationality.

To deal with the surge of illegitimacy, progressive-minded people now turned toward a seemingly great idea. On the one hand, there were babies abandoned by deadbeat dads. On the other, there were middle-class families with loving homes. Why not transfer these babies from the dads who don't love them to the ones who can?

The 20th century is littered with great ideas that proved to be not so great. Adoption is no exception. One negative outcome, which could have been foreseen, is that adopted children tend to replicate the psychological profile of their biological fathers. In one study, Gibson (2009) notes:

Adoptees were more likely than genetic offspring to have ever received public assistance, been divorced or been arrested. They also completed fewer years of schooling and were more likely to have ever required professional treatment for mental health, alcohol and drug issues.

[...] This supports other research showing that, compared to genetic children, American adoptees have a higher overall risk of contact with mental health professionals, specifically for eating disorders, learning disabilities, personality disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [...] They also have lower achievement and more problems in school, abuse drugs and alcohol more, and fight with or lie to parents more than genetic children [...]

These problems are not due to adoptive parents shortchanging adoptees. In fact, the reverse seems true:

This study categorically fails to support the hypothesis that parents bias investment toward genetically related children. Every case of significant differential investment was biased toward adoptees. Parents were more likely to provide preschool, private tutoring, summer school, cars, rent, personal loans and time with sports to adopted children. (Gibson, 2009)

Adoption does seem to improve the behavior of these children. It lowers their risk of committing violent crime, although they remain just as likely to commit other offences:

The possibility that genetic factors are among the causes of criminal behavior was tested by comparing court convictions of 14,427 adoptees with those of their biological and adoptive parents. A statistically significant correlation was found between the adoptees and their biological parents for convictions of property crimes. This was not true with respect to violent crimes. There was no statistically significant correlation between adoptee and adoptive parent court convictions. Siblings adopted separately into different homes tended to be concordant for convictions, especially if the shared biological father also had a record of criminal behavior. (Mednick et al., 1984)

With respect to intellectual capacity, adoptees likewise seem to benefit from their new homes, although the benefit tends to wash out over time. When children with two white biological parents were adopted into white middle-class homes, they initially did somewhat better than their non-adopted siblings, as seen on IQ tests at the age of 7. By the age of 17, however, the situation had reversed, with the adoptees falling behind their non-adopted siblings in terms of IQ, GPA, class ranking, and school aptitude (Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, 2014).

Clearly, adoptees are getting some benefit although the benefit is less than what some may think. It also comes at a price. When the family unit is reoriented toward social welfare goals, it can no longer serve its original purpose of perpetuating a genetic heritage.
 

Men born after 1939 - separation of sex from reproduction

In this cohort, good boys have once again been the top breeders. This might seem counterintuitive. After all, sexual morality has become even more liberal since the 1960s, and this change has paralleled a growing infatuation with thuggish males in popular culture. Yet something seems to have kept bad boys from translating their sexual success into reproductive success.

That "something" is easier access to contraception and ... Roe v. Wade. More and more good girls are making out with bad boys, but fewer and fewer are making babies with them.

Pro-lifers see this as proof that pro-choicers are secret eugenicists. I think it's just an unintended consequence. Paradoxically as it may seem, modern culture is favoring the reproduction of stable couples who plan for the long term and invest in their children. 

Just think. What is the core message of modern culture? It's live for today, live for yourself, and avoid long-term commitments, such as family and children. And who responds the most to that message? It's people whose time orientation is already focused on the present and who already invest as little as possible in their offspring. Modern culture is sterilizing those individuals who are most susceptible to its message.

And so, when it comes to having babies and raising them to adulthood, America's white middle class is slowly but surely closing in on first place (Frost, 2012).
 

Conclusion

Perhaps this is all for the best. What other choices are there? Conservative politicians talk a lot about traditional values, but not one in ten believe what they say. To judge by their personal lives, many seem happy with the current climate of sexual permissiveness. Anyhow, if conservatives really do try to turn back the clock, their efforts will be blocked by the libertarian right and the liberal left. And if they manage to outflank both groups, they'll be lucky to take us back to the policies and practices of the 1950s. Unfortunately, this is one case where half-measures will make things worse. We've come to where we are because of the 1950s. 

So what political option is left for someone like me? I wish to preserve our existing genetic heritage, if only because we don't fully understand what we are about to lose. If you feel the same way, the best course of action seems to be the present one of separating sex from reproduction. Call it "tactical liberalism" if you wish, but I see no other realistic alternative.
 

References 

"Adoption" (2014) Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adoption 

"Crime in Sweden" (2014). Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Sweden  

Frost, P. (2012). Obama: White America's bogeyman? Evo and Proud, November 24
http://evoandproud.blogspot.ca/2012/11/obama-white-americas-bogeyman.html  

Gibson, K. (2009). Differential parental investment in families with both adopted and genetic children, Evolution and Human Behavior, 30, 184-189.
http://anthro.vancouver.wsu.edu/media/Course_files/anth-260-edward-h-hagen/evil_step-parents.pdf 

JayMan. (2012). Some guys get all the babes - not exactly, JayMan's Blog, November 8
http://jaymans.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/some-guys-get-all-the-babes-not-exactly/ 

Lalor, J.J. (1886). Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States, Chicago: A.H. Andrews & Co.
http://books.google.ca/books?hl=fr&lr=&id=AsM6AAAAIAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=Cyclopaedia+of+Political+Science,+Political+Economy,+and+of+the+Political+History+of+the+United+States&ots=VqItRo_7kY&sig=aL3srydNpIpMoKOlKnd5gXqnp0g#v=onepage&q=Cyclopaedia%20of%20Political%20Science%2C%20Political%20Economy%2C%20and%20of%20the%20Political%20History%20of%20the%20United%20States&f=false  

Landes, D. (2008). Higher birth rates among Sweden's foreign born, The Local, November 3
http://www.thelocal.se/20081103/15408

Mednick, S.A., W.F. Gabrielli Jr., & B. Hutchings. (1984). Genetic influences in criminal convictions: evidence from an adoption cohort, Science, 224, 891-894
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/224/4651/891.short  

"Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study" (2014), Wikipedia
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/224/4651/891.short

Yao, S., N. Langstrom, H. Temri, and H. Walum. (2014). Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data, Evolution and Human Behavior, in press
http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138%2814%2900077-4/abstract

32 comments:

Hepp said...

"If we could examine only people of Swedish descent, I doubt reproductive success would still correlate with criminality or, more exactly, with a tendency to "love and leave" one woman after another"

Why do you assume that? Every time I've seen data on the issue, no matter what the country, people in first world societies who are less intelligent, more criminal, etc. are outbreeding others. Why would Sweden be an exception? In a world where 100% of babies survive, then the dominant evolutionary strategy is to mate with reckless abandon with as many partners as possible.

Hepp said...

Ok, I posted that before getting to the end of your post.

Basically, you're wrong about modern society. Watch Maury Povich sometime. Or look at this link

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2159476/Tennessees-deadbeat-dads-The-men-81-children-46-different-women--theyre-paying-child-support-them.html

If you actually looked at the data regarding this issue, you would've come to a different conclusion.

Hepp said...

By the way, Richard Lynn's book "Dysgenics" has actual data on this issue across different societies.

Anonymous said...

The artificial womb and promoting positive eugenics is the first and most important step for the human species since fire.

The second would be the complete abolition of the defunct, Philosophically barren and egregiously false ideology known as Feminism, without its complete annihilation women's groups will scuttle Artificial Womb technology through emotional rhetoric, psychological terror and manipulation usually employed by "victim" groups.

The solution is daunting, terrifying but necessary, that to leave reproduction in the hands of the human female, is a fools errand that will send humanity back to the trees.

B&B said...

Nihilistic. No good comes from the belief that by sitting back and letting trends take their course, you will win. Like the Derb's nonsense this piece exemplifies conservatism as a desire for retreat from a man-made reality that ends up conceding to that realities demands. Inactivity can only mean death.

The only moral and most effective way to control whos having kids is the hands on approach to preventing conceptions - birth control without reproductive choice.

One point never gets made enough with regards to positive eugenics. Namely that the children peoplke want will look good, be obedient and be 'smart' at school where tests are learning by rote.

But in the process people will select against things like creativity or a fighting spirit. I don't consider the outcome of most eugenics to be eugenic at all, rather an example of what Nietzsche said about domestication breeding sickness into animals.

Christ, not long ago Julian Savulescu presented a thought experiment in which eugenics removes racism (and therefore ethnocentric mechanisms) from the white population. Though this would be a disaster if widespread, its exactly what would happen because anti-whites were ecstatic at the thought.

Jason Malloy said...

By the way, Richard Lynn's book "Dysgenics" has actual data on this issue across different societies.


No, Dysgenics does not report any data for the reproductive success of monogamous and promiscuous people (or criminals for that matter). The General Social Survey shows that monogamous people have more children.

Populations need not conform to Rushton's "r vs. K" typologies. If we project from current fertility trends then the future looks more like religious fundamentalism than ghetto dysfunction (i.e. low intelligence/high self-restraint/high female domesticity).

Hepp said...

"No, Dysgenics does not report any data for the reproductive success of monogamous and promiscuous people (or criminals for that matter). The General Social Survey shows that monogamous people have more children.

Populations need not conform to Rushton's "r vs. K" typologies. If we project from current fertility trends then the future looks more like religious fundamentalism than ghetto dysfunction (i.e. low intelligence/high self-restraint/high female domesticity)."

The future will be both. There's simply no getting around the fact that the ghetto thug who has sex with as many women as possible is the most evolutionary fit individual in the current environment.

Hepp said...

Actual data on education completion rate and number of children for women:

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/02/lets-not-panic-over-women-with-more-education-having-fewer-kids/273070/2/

Women without high school diplomas have a TFR of 2.6, compared to less than 2.0 for every other education cohort. One thing that the author doesn't mention is that generation times are shorter for the low IQ, exacerbating the differences in TFR.

We're getting dumber, there's no getting around it.

Anonymous said...

Generally, fertility between high and low IQ people seems to converge across the 20th century -

in the GSS, people with low Wordsum report having more brothers and sisters when born at the start of the 20th century.

That's decreasingly true, as low Wordsum people have gone through more of a fertility reduction (the demographic transition happens earlier for the smart, net of religious subcultures that are obsessed with filling the earth with children).

Fertility differences were all a lot more noticeable in Galton's era.

Still, it will take a long time to converge at current rates.

Re: Silent Generation men having the promiscuous as the top breeders, OK, but -

Single motherhood goes like this

http://www.heritage.org/~/media/images/reports/2012/09/sr117/chart2.ashx?w=600&h=718&as=1

I don't see guys who have had several female partners, then marry one and have several children with them, remaining married and not really divorcing, as "bad boys". That makes little sense. Guys who are successful enough to be able to pick and choose women before having lots of kids with one, then remain monogamously married with her, are surely exactly "good boys". Having a little bit of romantic variety doesn't make you a bad person.

Number of children by number of divorces and marriages (ideally one marriage, zero divorces) and number of "baby mamas" is the variable we would be interested in here (although really, propensity and ability to financially support children is the *only* real variable of interest, whether it is with lots of women or only one).

If we project from current fertility trends then the future looks more like religious fundamentalism than ghetto dysfunction (i.e. low intelligence/high self-restraint/high female domesticity).

But then we wonder what will happen when the money runs out (intelligence being what makes the money).

Peter Fros_ said...

Hepp,

The data I've seen is that low SES and high SES groups are converging toward the same fertility rate in most Western societies. This is a somewhat different issue than the one raised in my post (bad boys vs. good boys).

Anon,

Artificial wombs are science fiction. Why not talk about what can be done now?

Jason,

What we need now is "secular fundamentalism", i.e., secular-minded people who are pro-family and pro-fertility.

Anon,

We have to work with the available data. In Western societies, men with several female partners tend to have problems with sexual commitment and paternal investment.

The problem with data on single parents is that the biological father is often present. The mother and the father have not officialised their relationship, but they are nonetheless monogamous.

acronym said...

Those who point out the higher fertility among less intelligent women should see info showing the reverse emerging among men

http://jaymans.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/idiocracy-can-wait/

Jason Malloy said...

"There's simply no getting around the fact that the ghetto thug who has sex with as many women as possible is the most evolutionary fit individual in the current environment."

This is not a "fact" but a wild assertion. The GSS does not show hyper-fertility for the most promiscuous black men, and it's not difficult to find much larger sub-populations with higher fertility (e.g. fundamentalist white men, high income white men, monogamous Mexican men). And the GSS doesn't even include data for groups like the Amish and Hasidim that are in a whole different weight division.

Jurij said...

Having bad boys being adopted by nice dads sounds cuckoo.

JayMan said...

Thanks for the reference. :)

Unfortunately, as I admitted in my post, a key weakness is that self-reported sexual data is know to be considerably unreliable. So there's no way to know for sure if the "dads" are in fact outbreeding the "cads."

Anonymous said...

Frost: We have to work with the available data. In Western societies, men with several female partners tend to have problems with sexual commitment and paternal investment.

The problem with data on single parents is that the biological father is often present. The mother and the father have not officialised their relationship, but they are nonetheless monogamous.


I'd like to see any data that men with several female partners before settling down to marriage tend to support their children less.

They may do, but as a response of having options (not being losers) and thus being more liable to divorce and remarriage.

sirtyrionlannister said...

First, we should define what means "bad boy", are we talking about dark triad traits?

I agree with Jayman, I do not believe that surveys are a reliable indication of mating distributions:

1) Methodological problems with survey research on number/quality of sexual partners.

2) Correlation, causation and using men’s reports to judge women’s preferences and male mating success.

To even begin to argue that there was an inheritable ‘dark triad’ that was good for reproducing, at the very least, we’d have to demonstrate that the ‘dark triad’ was inherited, using such things as twin studies or adoption studies

In the Human Genome Project Information website’s page on ‘behavioural genetics,’ none of the ‘dark triad’ show up as the subject of extensive genetic studies. If we’re going to argue about female mating skew, I think we would need to test field research or online dating stats, and not just the dumb "self report data" — we’d have to actually study mating behaviour, who people are really sleeping with.

If the ‘dark triad’ can’t be transmitted or is not inherent, you still have the issue about women liking ‘bad boys,’ but now you have a whole different dynamic to explain. To me, that question looks a hell of a lot more like a sociological one than an evolutionary one.

sirtyrionlannister said...



It’s not well known the ontogeny of male strategic differences. But the more plausible alternative for me is that males continuously and unconsciously monitor their ability to succeed in a high mating effort strategy. If so, then we would expect men’s psychology and behavior to track relevant changes. The likelihood of strategic heritable variation is controversial; however, because recombination prevents fortuitous combinations of genes from persisting long enough for polygenic morphs to evolve.A two-strategy system with a binary genetic switch can evolve more easily.

So I think that, when we observe that females privilege such bad boys/cads, it is not that females find these traits attractive per se, but rather that they are selecting for certain desirable traits that have become correlated with negative ones – this is their dilemma.

Conditional strategies have five main properties (see
Gross 1996):

(a) They involve different behavioral tactics that are consciously or unconsciously “chosen” by an individual;

(b) the choices between tactics are “made” in response
to specific features or cues in the environment, often an individual’s attractiveness or status relative to other individuals;

(c) all individuals are genetically monomorphic (i.e., they are are genetically designed to enact the same tactics);

(d) during their evolution, the average adaptive values
of different tactics were not equal except at a “switchpoint”
on a continuum of environmental input (e.g., individuals’
relative attractiveness) where the costs and benefits of each tactic balanced out; and

(e) during their evolution, the chosen tactic tended to yield higher fitness for the individual than other tactics given current environmental conditions. Thus, the environmental conditions moderate the fitness gains of pursuing different tactics (e.g., exerting parental effort, pursuing short-term matings), thereby affecting the optimal allocation of effort to different tactics.

Jim said...

Jason Molloy - Are the Mormons and Amish going to inherit the Earth or at least the US?

Anonymous said...

interesting post

Anonymous said...

'By the way, Richard Lynn's book "Dysgenics" has actual data on this issue across different societies.'

Lynn has been exposed as manipulating data has he not?

Sean said...

Lynn: "A sample of 104 British parents with criminal convictions had an average fertility of 3·91 children as compared with 2·21 for the general population. The result suggests that fertility for criminal behaviour is dysgenic involving an increase in the genes underlying criminal behaviour in the population"

Peter Fros_ said...

JayMan,

I can't help citing your posts. You write good scholarly stuff.

I agree that survey data suffer from self-report bias, but the same trend shows up in harder data, like statistics on fertility. In Western societies, fertility rates are converging on the same level of 1.5 to 2.0 children per woman. The only exception seems to be certain religious minorities who make a conscious effort to insulate themselves from modern culture.

Sir Tyrion,

By "bad boy" I mean the following mental and behavioral traits:

- little desire to care for one’s offspring, i.e., low level of paternal investment
- strong tendency to love and leave women, i.e., weak pair bonding
- poor impulse control
- tendency to live in the present, i.e., weak future time orientation
- reluctance to endure short-term pain for long-term gain
- low anger thresholds, i.e., tendency to express anger for trivial reasons
- “Big Man” characteristics, i.e., bombastic speech, ostentatious mannerisms and behavior, strong desire for “respect” from others, etc.

Most of the above traits have been shown to be moderately heritable and some have high heritability.

Women respond to certain visual and/or behavioral cues that indicate social dominance. There is some variability among women in this respect, and I suspect that recent human evolution has tended to reduce this aspect of female sexual response.

Anon,

Yes, I know about B&B. I seem to be getting a lot of extreme people who want to convert me to their way of thinking.

Anon and Sean,

I suspect Lynn's British data suffers from the same problem as the Swedish data, i.e., he's not controlling for ethnic and cultural differences.

Jason Malloy said...

RE: criminal fertility. The General Social Survey asks "Were you ever picked up, or charged, by the police"

Mean number of children (males)
YES 1.66 (N=1,149)
NO 1.94 (N=4,504)

"Have you ever spent any time in prison or jail"

YES 1.66 (N=173)
NO 1.68 (N=649)

Jason Malloy said...

This survey data also does not include the dead and the incarcerated. The violent and the impulsive are disproportionately culled from the population at young ages. Many as teenagers before they have any children. If the GSS asked about the respondent's father's fertility and criminal record, the numbers should tilt even more toward the law-abiding.

The logic is similar for prison. Criminals spend many prime reproductive years locked away from mating opportunities.

Granted prison surveys from the early 90s found inmates averaged two children, which is about the same as the general population. So it could be a wash.

Jason Malloy said...

Actually I take that back. Men in the GSS from 1991-1993 averaged 1.73 children. Men in the prison population from this time period averaged 2.0 children. So including this population might actually skew the numbers the other way.

I wish there was more research about this.

U.S.D.J. (1993) Survey of state prison inmates. Washington, DC: B.J.S.

sirtyrionlannister said...

@Peter,

"Women respond to certain visual and/or behavioral cues that indicate social dominance".

And what evidence is there that ‘dominance’ is the determinant of female sexual choice (if we are controlling for physical attractiveness and age for example)?


In fact, there’s quite a lot of evidence falsifying this premise. Furthermore, where mate access is no longer a function of subordinate status concessions in prevailing human populations (compared to the way it works in smaller populations typical of early hominid ‘troops’, and those of other primates), dominance can say nothing about its distribution (given that density dependence means large populations have marginalized mating concessions to a negligible quantity).
I would also like to address the whole spurious ‘alpha-male’ meme which no longer describes status interactions within prevailing human societies. This is because, in large organized populations (as opposed to small ‘troops’), network reciprocity marginalizes the influence of dominant males through the net ‘inclusive fitness’ contributions of status inferiors. In small ‘in-groups’ (ie. typical of early hominid ‘troops’), there is a strong quid-pro-quo dynamic that facilitates status concessions in favor of a dominant male (as the success/prosperity of the group is more strongly weighted for individual competencies).
In large co-operative populations, the contributions of any single male become increasingly marginal (as do the status concessions in terms of the limiting resource in ecologically prosperous male populations – sex). Hence the contemporary fixations on mating status in stratifying male ‘rank’ (a sense which ignores the broader ethological context which formed the basis of the ‘alpha’ convention). The point is that male dominance in small vs. large (co operative) populations entails subtle, but material differences (ie. density dependence), that no longer describe human status interactions in large, cooperative populations. So, the whole ‘Alpha male’ meme is a spurious concept when applied to human mating practices (in contemporary human societies), where mate access is no longer a function of subordinate status concessions. (tyrion lannister 2014).

I'm not aware of any study that points to male dominance as a key factor in female mating preferences:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2008.00208.x/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092656699922523
http://psp.sagepub.com/content/37/3/365.short
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S109051381000098X


sirtyrionlannister said...

,"By "bad boy" I mean the following mental and behavioral traits:

- little desire to care for one’s offspring, i.e., low level of paternal investment
- strong tendency to love and leave women, i.e., weak pair bonding
- poor impulse control
- tendency to live in the present, i.e., weak future time orientation
- reluctance to endure short-term pain for long-term gain
- low anger thresholds, i.e., tendency to express anger for trivial reasons
- “Big Man” characteristics, i.e., bombastic speech, ostentatious mannerisms and behavior, strong desire for “respect” from others, etc.

Most of the above traits have been shown to be moderately heritable and some have high heritability"


The truth is that physical attractiveness is the limiting factor of male reproductive strategy. I could explain why differences in male physical attractiveness should lead to differences in strategy.

First, attractiveness functions as a constraint. The idea may be reconciled with those of Trivers and others in that the overall optimum still tends toward a higher proportion of short-term tactics for attractive males. The point is just that less attractive males’ possibilities are constrained to make more long-term mating optimal and more parental investment.

So according you say nice guy/bad boy traits are moderately heritable and some have high heritability, and there would be no conditional strategy.Ok, let's choose one nerd skinny ( or even nice average joe). Then, let's imagine we could magically transform him such that he could capture the attention of most of cute women around him. Therefore, in a few days, after the transformation, he would find that plenty of gorgeous girls would swoon him, wherever he goes. Which mating/reproductive strategy would this individual adopt? Short term or long term mating? Parental investment and mating effort? We bet if you want!

Peter Fros_ said...

"And what evidence is there that ‘dominance’ is the determinant of female sexual choice"

There is a very extensive literature on this subject. A good entry point would be:

Buss, D.M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures,
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1-14.

The importance of social dominance varies from one woman to another, but very few would argue that it isn't a mate-choice criterion.

"let's choose one nerd skinny ( or even nice average joe). Then, let's imagine we could magically transform him such that he could capture the attention of most of cute women around him."

You would have to change not only his appearance but his behavior as well.

Sean said...

I'd like to see Jayman, Jason and Jensen's inequality "averaged".

Anonymous said...

If I get time, I'll endeavour to fully understand Sir Tyrion's comments; they're quite difficult to understand just by skim-reading.

And I'm not sure if Sean is arguing, as I think Bruce also has argued, that heritability must not be seen as applying at the individual level, or not.

It occurs to me that with the latest news about grooming-gangs in the UK, both Chick and JT have addressed a post to this, that Peter might want to use this gruesome crime as a discussion point for considering female selection for Alpha male traits, (and/or proxies for Alpha male traits), and/or selection for bad-boy traits. ?

Going a step further (into the deep gene pool), is there an ethnic connection that might have made the gruesome business model more difficult for East Asians and/or West Indians to implement? Are South Asian men perhaps attractive to European women? Or was the faux romance, and/or the fear, and/or the resulting cognitive dissonance sufficient for any ethnic group to co-opt any other 'spare' women?

Anonymous said...

Fact is that modern evangelical Christianity has started growing faster then anything, including Atheism and Islam. Those churches often contain a courtship culture very similar to 100 years ago, where, though sex before marriage does happen, it is at least a taboo (and scandalous if it happens in leadership). I suspect within that culture is what will save us.

Malcolm Smith said...

This is all very interesting, but one statistic I didn't see was the actual reproductive success of the bad boy against the good boy. It is all very well to seduce a virgin and leave it to a kind adoptive couple to raise the offspring. But how many virgins do you have to seduce (and how easy was it?) before you produced the same number of children you would have got by concentrating on finding a wife and raising the children in "good boy" fashion? And let's not forget that reproductive success does not mean just producing lots of children, but also lots of grandchildren. Your offspring have to live to reproduce as well.