Men May Have Natural Aversion to Adultery With Friends’ Wives

Via ScienceDaily:

After outgrowing teenage infatuations with the girl next door, adult males seem to be biologically designed to avoid amorous attractions to the wife next door, according to a University of Missouri study that found adult males’ testosterone levels dropped when they were interacting with the marital partner of a close friend. Understanding the biological mechanisms that keep men from constantly competing for each others’ wives may shed light on how people manage to cooperate on the levels of neighborhoods, cities and even globally.

“Although men have many chances to pursue a friend’s mate, propositions for adultery are relatively rare on a per opportunity basis,” said Mark Flinn, professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Science. “Men’s testosterone levels generally increase when they are interacting with a potential sexual partner or an enemy’s mate. However, our findings suggest that men’s minds have evolved to foster a situation where the stable pair bonds of friends are respected.”

Flinn says that these findings might help solve global problems.

“Ultimately, our findings about testosterone levels illuminate how people have evolved to form alliances,” said Flinn. “Using that biological understanding of human nature, we can look for ways to solve global problems. The same physiological mechanisms that allow villages of families to coexist and cooperate can also allow groups like NATO and the U.N. to coordinate efforts to solve common problems. The more we view the Earth as a single community of people, the greater our ability to solve mutual threats, such as climate change.”

Evolutionarily, men who were constantly betraying their friends’ trust and endangering the stability of families may have caused a survival disadvantage for their entire communities, according to Flinn. A community of men who didn’t trust each other would be brittle and vulnerable to attack and conquest. The costs of an untrustworthy reputation would have outweighed the benefits of having extra offspring with a friend’s conjugal companion.

For example, a cautionary tale of the dangers of adultery can be found in the myth of Camelot. Sir Lancelot betrayed King Arthur by seducing Guinevere. Soon after, the fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table disintegrated and the kingdom fell. The alliance of powerful males could not hold once trust had been lost.

The study “Hormonal Mechanisms for Regulation of Aggression in Human Coalitions” was published in the journal Human Nature. Co-authors were Davide Ponzi of MU’s Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science and Michael Muehlenbein of Indiana University.

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  • lazy_friend

    Friends don’t hit on each others wives because they get together, pool their cash, go to the strip club or Vegas and commit communal adultery Tiger Woods style. In contrast, women have the pool stud that cums every week. I happen take a testosterone booster, so watch your girl around me, true player for real.

  • “Big” Richard Johnson

    I call it an aversion to getting my ass kicked.

  • Gergith

    Bahahahahahahahaha; Does anyone else realize that this is a scientific study attempting to explain/prove bros before hoes as a legit theory? ;-)

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Not that i have anything against evolution or anything… but whenever I read something that starts with “Evolutionarily, ….. ” there seems to be a thick implication of biological evolution, as opposed to social evolution. It comes to absolutely speculative statements such as “….men who were constantly betraying their friends’ trust and endangering the stability of families may have caused a survival disadvantage for their entire communities” spoken as matter-of-fact, and is believed as such. It leaves out the questions of social expectations and psychological reactions to those expectations being the direct effectors of the testosterone in this case.

    This might seem like a minor nitpick, but leaving out the understanding of the relatively quick social evolution, in favor of long term historical conjecture portrayed as fact seems flawed in at best.

    • lazy_friend

      That post was so nerdy my glasses got thicker.

      • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

        Thanks, I try. I hope your new glasses help you see better and not worse.

        • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

          This is only slightly off topic of your comments, but if you haven’t read Nassim Taleb’s _Antifragile_ yet I seriously encourage you to do so.

          I’ve got a spare copy if you need it.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            cool. i might take you up on your offer, That’s on my (too) long list of things-to-read, and availability is a good prioritizer as any

          • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc
        • lazy_friend

          Honestly I like nerdy. The way my vision is going, thick glasses are going to be required for me to see clearly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

      Another just so story. Philip Kitcher’s booking Vaulting Ambition is a good read to debunk this sociobiology crap.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

        “booking”?? what’s wrong with me??

    • Andrew

      “may have”

  • Calypso_1

    Did they investigate if the aversion was inversely proportionate to the amount of alcohol &/or cocaine involved in the relationships?

  • BuzzCoastin

    modern “scientific” Western Psychology
    is primarily the study of the habits of American college students
    which is then fluffed up through extrapolation
    to apply to all of humanity
    and the people publishing these fatuous studies are intellectual whores

    • David Duke-Astin

      ^a broad yet witty brush

  • IokSotot

    I thought only a few dozens of generations ago humans roamed the Savannah in a kind of rolling orgy where no man knew what woman was carrying his baby and nobody cared. This is what we were told.

  • David Duke-Astin

    straight people have all these rules about who they sleep with. how tedious.

    • Eric_D_Read

      Shit gets complicated when the possibility of procreation enters the equation.
      It’s a bitch, but what can you do?

  • JoiquimCouteau

    “Hey guys, let’s write a paper calling our social conventions ‘human nature'”

    popular biochemical (testosterone) + recognizable historical example (shakespeare) = “sounds plausible”

  • Hadrian999

    it might just be an aversion to middle aged women, odds are they already have one, no need for another. now if that friend’s wife was a 19 year old college volleyball player the numbers might go up.

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