New research from the University of Texas is challenging long-held notions that humans have evolved to be monogamous. David Buss, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Texas, and Cari Goetz, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernardino, and their team introduced a new theory they call the “mate-switching hypothesis” in which they argue that humans, particularly women, have evolved to keep looking for new partners.
“Lifelong monogamy does not characterize the primary mating patterns of humans,” Buss said of his team’s findings. “Breaking up with one partner and mating with another may more accurately characterize the common, perhaps the primary, mating strategy of humans.” Early humans faced much shorter lifespans and the death of a woman’s partner was practically just around every corner. “Ancestral women lacking a back-up mate would have suffered a lapse in protection, and resources,” Buss explained, adding that it was prudent for them to always be on the lookout for a new partner. “Affairs serve as a form of mate insurance, keeping a backup mate should a switch become warranted in the future. A regular mate may cheat, defect, die, or decline in mate value.” Hah — we can just picture the Geico gecko hawking mate insurance policies in TV commercials when this concept goes mainstream a few years from now.
Of course, scientists have shown evidence in the past that men have a genetic predisposition to stray from romantic partners — it increases the odds of more of their offspring populating the earth — but the idea that women might be genetically hard-wired to cheat is an emerging concept. But several studies published last year showed that women are prone to having affairs, though the research lacked an evolutionary explanation. One of those studies showed a significant link between vasopressin and oxytocin receptor genes and promiscuity in women, according to a report in The New York Times. Meanwhile, those genes seemed to have no effect in men’s sexual behavior. And statistics cited in that same report seem to belie the general sentiment toward cheating in society. In one survey, some 91 percent of those polled said cheating on a spouse was morally wrong. But about 21 percent of married men and between 10 to 15 percent for married women have engaged in infidelity over the last 20 years.
Read the full story at The Independent.