Paternity uncertainty and evolutionary psychology: How a seemingly capricious occurrence fails to follow laws of greater generality

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Abstract

Evolutionary psychologists aspire to show how ĝ€"contrary to 'soft' social sciences such as sociology ĝ€" 'seemingly capricious' occurrences in the realm of human behaviour follow biologistic 'laws of greater generality' (Pinker, 2005: xii).This article is a case study of the 'seemingly capricious occurrence' of paternity uncertainty. According to evolutionary psychologists, paternity uncertainty arises from the fact that men are 'hard wired' to seek as many sexual partners as they can, and women to seek men of superior genetic quality. This account is said to be demonstrable through independent biological evidence of widespread discrepancy between putative and actual biological paternity in human populations.Yet close scrutiny of biological evidence and new evidence from representative sex surveys indicate that evolutionary psychologists consistently inflate estimates of paternal discrepancy. Evolutionary psychologists' account of paternity uncertainty highlights their overattachment to biologistic laws at the expense of understanding the social dimensions of human behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-157
Number of pages18
JournalSociology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Fatherhood
  • Infidelity
  • Marriage
  • Non-paternity
  • Parenting
  • Paternal discrepancy
  • Paternity uncertainty
  • Sexuality
  • Sociobiology

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