People naturally promiscuous?

Are humans naturally promiscuous?

Most of the articles I have come across in my research seem to suggest ‘yes’.

An example is:
This article

I’ll put some of what it says in quotes.




My initial thought is,
“why didn’t they just do this research with humans?”
we have the capacity to study human behavior. It’s not like a social science study of human mating patterns wouldn’t pass IRB, Why do we need to extrapolate from the mating habits of scorpions, birds and monkeys with big nads?

Although that thing about the birds with the better songs getting more action helps me understand why 80’s hair band singers got laid.

What does “naturally” mean?
Are our cultures natural?

Nothing is unnatural.

I don’t know if it’s natural, but it certainly is unhealthy. Having sex with a lot of different people can lead to all kinds of diseases, not to mention problems with any mate you happen to have. I don’t think that saying something is natural is a justification for doing it. Burping may be natural, but that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to most people. It sounds like an excuse to me.

All sorts of behaviour patterns are within the spectrum of natural human patterns, and there are societies that have been arranged to favor most of them. So for that, I’ll tend to agree largely with yme, that nothing is unnatural.

However. The problem with labelling some behaviour as natural often comes in the application. I’ve seen the “Humans are naturally promiscuous” line used by dozens of people as a prelude to some variant on, “So you should have sex with me.” (I’ve seen similar statements about bisexuality, and other things.) As well as things like, “Because this is the natural way humans are, if you don’t want it, you’re Brainwashed By Society or otherwise defective and I don’t need to respect your preferences, you unenlightened waste of protein.”

There are also tremendous ranges of preferred interaction, all of which are entirely natural. I know a goodly number of people who are wired monogamously; they get into a relationship, and their attractions shut down for people other than their partner. I know a lot more people who choose monogamy. And a lot of people who choose various forms of polyamory, open relationships, or promiscuity. There are a bunch of slider-bars on this sort of thing, and people are, in their various natural ways, set to different points on them.

greck – there are studies of human behaviour on the subject, but there are also horrible tangles that result from promulgations of only certain modes of forming sexual relationships as morally acceptable or healthy. And of the studies that exist, a lot of people like to spin them for their own purposes, just like they do the animal-kinship studies. I suspect so long as a large number of people feel a prurient interest in the sexual behaviour of other people, it’ll be hard to look at the subject objectively.

There’s a fantastic book called The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, about why sexual reproduction evolved in the first place. (It’s very costly in terms of resources: two parents produce one kid, sexually, where they could produce two kids, asexually)

In the last section he talks about promiscuity, and how it has been noted in many animal species. I don’t have the book beside me, unfortunately, so this is all just my memory talking.

Researchers studied genetics of colonies of monogamous birds, and found that in a startling number of cases the daddy birds were raising babies that were not their own - that the mommy birds had gone and shagged someone else when no one was looking. (He points out that no one suspected this before, because the birds make a point of doing it out of sight.)

These birds (I think they were gulls) are pretty relevant to compare with humans, as they share a similar social context: monogamous couples raising families, in close proximity to others in a tightly-knit society. Thus the conclusion that ‘since the birds do it, it seems we also do it’ is not completely far-fetched.

Basically (and this goes on well below the level of consciousness so please keep that in mind before you flame me! Please read Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene for more) when females choose mates, they look for a few features. The important ones in this case are (a) good father (likely to raise offspring successfully) and (b) good genes (will provide healthy/strong/attractive or whatever genes to the offspring). These qualities are usually not found in the same person. So, in a nutshell, she will marry the good father and sneak around with the good genes, and have the best of both worlds.

This is corroborated in studies of women with extramarital lovers who, it turned out, were much more likely to see them during their most fertile time of the month.

Also women are more likely to be impregnated by their lovers than their husbands (something to do with sperm chemistry), all else being equal.

Finally, there’s the fact that sperm comes in several ‘species’ - one kind impregnates, and another kind (‘Kamikaze’, I think I’ve seen them called) seeks out sperm from another man and tries to destroy it. Sperm would never have evolved this capacity if women had not had the promiscuity habit.

There’s a lot more interesting info which I can’t remember, I highly recommend the book! The first half is mostly about animals but the part about humans at the end is fantastic.

Ridley also quite carefully points out that just because it has a basis in evolution and genetics is no reason to justify it. Just because something exists in nature is absolutely independent of it being ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ In other words, it’s the Naturalistic Fallacy.

:confused: :confused:

:wally :wally :eek: :eek:

:smiley: :smiley: