Joseph Billingsley, Jan Antfolk, Pekka Santtila & Debra Lieberman
Despite the profound influence of relatedness on mating and cooperative behavior in humans, the cues men use to assess paternity and guide offspring-directed behavior have yet to be fully resolved. According to leading theories of kin detection, kinship cues should influence both sexual and altruistic motivations because of fitness consequences associated with inbreeding and welfare tradeoff decisions, respectively. Prior work with paternity assessment, however, has generally evaluated candidate cues solely by demonstrating associations with altruism. Here we (i) replicate past work that found effects of phenotypic resemblance and perceived partner fidelity on offspring investment; and (ii) evaluate whether both phenotypic resemblance and perceived partner fidelity meet the more stringent criteria suggested by theory-that is, whether they also predict inbreeding aversions. We report on two studies, one from a population-based sample of Finnish fathers (N = 390), the other from a Mechanical Turk sample (N = 700), and furnish evidence in strong support of perceived partner fidelity as a cue to paternity. Support for resemblance as a cue to paternity was decidedly weaker. We discuss a non-kin-based role that resemblance might play in altruistic decision-making, consider whether men might use additional kinship cues to meet the computational challenges associated with paternity assessment, and provide suggestions for future research.
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