The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage

Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, and Peter J.
Richerson (2012). The puzzle of monogamous
marriage. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal
Society, 367: 657-669.
• Number of wives associated with power and wealth with
more wives meaning greater power and wealth.
• With greater inequality of wealth, polygyny becomes
more common among those with greater wealth.
• In high competition situations, unattractive low-status
males will engage in more risky behavior to avoid fitness
oblivion (not mating).
• In low competition situations, status gains do not lead to
greater reproductive success and thus a male will be
more adverse to risk and more likely to pair bond.
• Females generally seek higher status males.
• Distinct from mating strategies.
• Part of cultural learning and cultural norms.
• Failure to adhere to norms can cause an individual to be
• The modern package of norms and institutions that constitutes
monogamous marriage has been shaped by cultural evolution
driven by inter group competition.
• Because…
• Monogamous marriage reduces the intensity of intra sexual competition.
• Normative monogamy reduces intra household conflict.
• Examination of evolution of Mormon communities that
adopted normative monogamous marriage over
• Cross-sectional analysis of several nations with different
normative marital practices.
• Imposition of normative monogamous marriage decreases intra
sexual competition.
• Lower rates of crime.
• Reduced spousal age gap, gender inequality, and fertility.
• Increased GDP per capita.
Normative monogamy reduces intra-household conflict.
• Greater paternal investment and elimination of conflict between co-wives.
• Normative monogamous marriage likely spread due to its
impact on intergroup competitive success.
• Decreased crime likely spurred commerce, travel, and free flow of ideas
and innovations.
• Low status males would be more likely to marry and more likely to look to
the future rather than engage in status elevating risky behavior.
• Higher status males would invest more in children rather than the addition
of wives which would lead to better education and advancement of
Related flashcards


21 cards

Payment systems

18 cards

Banks of Germany

43 cards

Payment systems

59 cards

Finance ministries

62 cards

Create Flashcards