Arranged unions and distrust: The influence of parental choice on mate guarding

Feb 01, 2011

Mate guarding is classified as excessive or unwarranted jealous or protective behavior towards a spouse or mate. This is common among many different species and can be useful to defend territory, guarantee paternity, or prevent disease. The authors of a new study published in Personal Relationships have discovered that this behavior is more common in societies which practice arranged marriages or in cultures that place a high value on parental influence in the choice of mate for their children. Furthermore, the authors comment on the fact that mate guarding is not an exclusively male phenomenon, and women can be just as forceful in protecting their monogamous relationships.

In many cultures, rules, behavioral practices, and physical measures, including veiling and walled courtyards, have been applied to prevent contact between women and potential . The current findings indicate that the occurrence of mate guarding is more prevalent in Muslim, Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Moroccan, and South Asian societies.

Lead author A.P. Buunk, "In Western cultures, most husbands do not actively try to prevent contacts between their wife and other men and may even accept a moderate degree of flirting. In contrast, in many Islamic cultures husbands actively prevent even superficial contact between a female member and another man. If a male cannot guarantee the of their , they could very well be investing precious resources in another man's offspring. It therefore becomes most important to ensure the fidelity of the female mate."

There is considerable evolutionary evidence that in most societies and historical periods, marriage has been at least partly arranged and has been based on a series of familial considerations rather than on the desires of the individuals concerned. In their article the authors emphasize that the degree in which parents control the mate choice of their children is an important factor in the occurrence of mate guarding. Additionally, freedom of mate choice or the ability to form a love-based union seems to make mate guarding less necessary. The findings clearly indicate that in cultures and social contexts in which freedom of is valued highly, the level of mate guarding is relatively low.

There are different reasons why men and women may choose to engage in mate guarding. In Venezuela, a man may pursue an arranged marriage to form important social or business alliances with other men. In this case a man may feel that he needs to guard his "property" zealously. A woman in an arranged marriage may fear desertion, and with it the stigma of divorce, as a result of her husband's infidelity and would therefore be more likely to engage in mate guarding behavior. Buunk, "If a marriage is not based on choice or love a person is more likely to become jealous over seemingly inconsequential events. This is probably because it is harder to be sure that the other person is in love with you out of their own volition."

Explore further: Less privileged kids shine at university, according to study

More information: "Mate Guarding and Parental Influence on Mate Choice."; Abraham P. Buunk and Alejandro Castro Solano. Personal Relationships; Published Online: January 28, 2011. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01342.x

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When mice choose mates, experience counts

Mar 21, 2006

Choosing a mate is a big decision. And, at least for mice, it's one that is best made with input from one's peers. In a series of experiments designed help scientists understand the brain chemicals that guide ...

The best both of worlds -- how to have sex and survive

Sep 20, 2007

Researchers have discovered that even the gruesome and brutal lifestyle of the Evarcha culicivora, a blood gorging jumping spider indigenous to East Africa, can’t help but be tempted by that ‘big is beautiful’ mantra ...

Female mammals follow their noses to the right mates

Mar 17, 2009

Female birds often choose their mates based on fancy feathers. Female mammals, on the other hand, may be more likely to follow their noses to the right mate. That's one conclusion of Cambridge zoologist Tim Clutton-Brock ...

Strangers influence our dating preferences

Jun 07, 2010

Many people like to think they have discriminating tastes when it comes to romantic interests. An Indiana University study, however, found that men and women are greatly influenced not only by what their friends think of ...

Fathers are no role models

Jan 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Female zebra finches do not only differ in the way they chose their mate but also in their preference for a partner.

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

Dec 18, 2014

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Feb 01, 2011
I wonder what difference the DNA paternity testing kits now appearing in pharmacies will make...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.