Monogamy reduces major social problems of polygamist cultures: study

Jan 23, 2012

In cultures that permit men to take multiple wives, the intra-sexual competition that occurs causes greater levels of crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality than in societies that institutionalize and practice monogamous marriage.

That is a key finding of a new University of British Columbia-led study that explores the global rise of monogamous marriage as a dominant cultural institution. The study suggests that institutionalized monogamous marriage is rapidly replacing polygamy because it has lower levels of inherent social problems.

"Our goal was to understand why monogamous marriage has become standard in most in recent centuries, when most recorded have practiced polygyny," says UBC Prof. Joseph Henrich, a , referring to the form of polygamy that permits multiple wives, which continues to be practiced in some parts of Africa, Asia, the and North America.

"The emergence of monogamous marriage is also puzzling for some as the very people who most benefit from polygyny – wealthy, powerful men – were best positioned to reject it," says Henrich, lead author of the study that is published today in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. "Our findings suggest that that institutionalized monogamous marriage provides greater net benefits for society at large by reducing social problems that are inherent in polygynous societies."

Considered the most comprehensive study of polygamy and the institution of marriage, the study finds significantly higher levels rape, kidnapping, murder, assault, robbery and fraud in polygynous cultures. According to Henrich and his research team, which included Profs. Robert Boyd (UCLA) and Peter Richerson (UC Davis), these crimes are caused primarily by pools of unmarried men, which result when other men take multiple wives.

"The scarcity of marriageable women in polygamous cultures increases competition among men for the remaining unmarried women," says Henrich, adding that was outlawed in 1963 in Nepal, 1955 in India (partially), 1953 in China and 1880 in Japan. The greater competition increases the likelihood men in polygamous communities will resort to criminal behavior to gain resources and women, he says.

According to Henrich, monogamy's main cultural evolutionary advantage over polygyny is the more egalitarian distribution of women, which reduces male competition and social problems. By shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, institutionalized monogamy increases long-term planning, economic productivity, savings and child investment, the study finds. Monogamy's institutionalization has been assisted by its incorporation by religions, such as Christianity.

Monogamous marriage also results in significant improvements in child welfare, including lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death, homicide and intra-household conflict, the study finds. These benefits result from greater levels of parental investment, smaller households and increased direct "blood relatedness" in monogamous family households, says Henrich, who served as an expert witness for British Columbia's Supreme Court case involving the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C.

Monogamous marriage has largely preceded democracy and voting rights for women in the nations where it has been institutionalized, says Henrich, the Canadian Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Evolution in UBC's Depts. of Psychology and Economics. By decreasing competition for younger and younger brides, monogamous marriage increases the age of first for females, decreases the spousal age gap and elevates female influence in household decisions which decreases total fertility and increases gender equality.

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More information: View the study, The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage, at: rstb.royalsocietypublishing.or… 67/1589/657.full.pdf

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (20) Jan 23, 2012
"Monogamy reduces major social problems of polygamist cultures"

-The practice is part of the religionist formula for maximizing reproduction and therefore growth.

Key to religionist aggression is the ability to replace battle losses faster then the enemy. As men die in battle they have to be replaced. The ones who survive can be expected to be a little cleverer and more adept at fighting; these are allowed multiple wives to increase their relative percentage, and because endemic religionist wars reduce the number of men vs women.

Win-win.

Men in aggressive religionist cultures are selected for prowess in battle, and they themselves become more aggressive with each generation.

"Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he could see the outskirts of the Israelite camp.

9 "From the rocky peaks I see them,
from the heights I view them...
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number the fourth part of Israel?"

- Needless to say Balak and the Moabites were toast.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (17) Jan 23, 2012
-More evidence of Husbandry I might add, whether intentional or as a natural outcome of the miserable state of the human race due to its tropical rate of growth, and the desperation of tribes to prevail in conflict.

But I think its Intentional. An aspect of Intelligent Design - totally human mind you, no gods necessary. Except to convince the rubes to participate that is.

Leaders can demand that the people fight because the gods will it. And if there is anyone to blame for the suffering and dying it is the gods and not the Leaders. Or it is the people themselves because they did not love their gods enough. Clever yes?
knowledge_treehouse
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2012
That is not endrinologically polygamous behavior - and testosterone amplifies abnormal drives.
Mauricio
2.4 / 5 (7) Jan 23, 2012
how weak....

what societal arrangement would cure the problems of western societies?

in the USA, suicide keeps going up as a cause of death. The level of consumption of psychoactive substances is number one in the world. In the UK, the consumption of alcohol is incredibly high. What about family disintegration in the western societies? very high rate of divorce with a life of stress for children?

how do we solve those problems? are they related with our wonderful monogamous paradisiac marriages?

Monogamous marriages can be the source of many of our daily stresses.

Monogamy does not seems ideal since we are not physiologically or psychologically equal. For some people, monogamy might be the best. For other people, other distributions work better.

I personally think that the number of homosexual men is underestimated in many societies, and there are usually many women without couple willing to engage in other family structures.
kevinrtrs
Jan 24, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Sinister1811
1.4 / 5 (11) Jan 24, 2012
The reason there's no polygamy in Western Society is because there are laws that prohibit it.
roboferret
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2012
- Kevin
Polygamy was normal in the Old Testament. When did the god (Ael, Yaweh, Shaddai, whatever you want to call it) change its mind?
animah
3 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2012
Kevin,

Lot did not seem to mind sharing his daughters with the men of the town though. 2 angels who were present did not reproach him at all.

Then having chidren, Moab and Ammon with his daughters did not seem to cause him to lose favour with your god at all. OK, he was drunk. Booze is a great excuse, will get you out of jail any day.

But I'm sure you have great explanations for this stuff. They surely make your supernatural iron-age beliefs vastly superior to the world's modern quest for knowledge.

lol
bewertow
2.2 / 5 (10) Jan 24, 2012
Seems like God knows best after all, doesn't it?
I have to laugh at the researchers wanting to bring evolution into it. It's a simple consequence of sinful living that is forcing people back to what works best.

How many women would be allowed to take more than one husband? Why is it that men want to have more than one wife but do not want to share a woman? What's up with that? Check it out - the woman who has another man gets kicked out of the union or else gets badly beaten or even eliminated. No, this doesn't mean that I approve of polyandry, just that I want to point out the selfish, irrational and sinful nature of men.


Interesting considering your book of fairy tales supports polygamy?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (16) Jan 24, 2012
Hello kevin

Did you know that the hymen is rare among primates? It occurs only in one subspecies of gorilla and a lemur. The hymen is nonexistant in our closest relatives under the sun, the chimps.

But a hymen is the only way one can be certain that the woman you are about to impregnate has not already been visitated by someone else. This knowledge is absolutely essential in cultures which are concerned with lineage, specifically of their most successful warriors (the ones who survived).

A culture which sought to maximize its stock of first-class warriors, in order to ensure victory against their enemies, would favor women with hymens and begin to select for them.

As this strategy would lead to more victories, it makes sense that hymenated women would tend to prevail as would hotheaded warrior types, in ancient religionist cultures.

"A woman would prefer to have 1/10th of a champion than all of a mediocre man." Oscar Wilde

-Meaning both sexes would naturally prefer polygamy.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (15) Jan 24, 2012
A mans reproductive preference favors quantity whereas, because a woman has far more time and effort invested in a pregnancy, she is more concerned with quality. She wants to ensure that she has selected the very best donor for each and every child she chooses to bear.

But how does this dynamic play itself out? How does a woman discern quality in multiple suitors? By inducing them to compete, is how. While this suits a womans prerogative, it is anathema to tribal stability, mutual trust among warriors, their desire to cooperate with and sacrifice for each other and for the tribe.

And so as this tribal dynamic evolved it became obvious that, for the good of the tribe, the womans tendencies to tempt and to stray had to be restricted.

Polygamy was still useful during periods of high male attrition, which is why it is still included in your books. But monogamy, specifically prearranged marriages, was the best structure in terms of harmony and stability within the tribe.
kaasinees
2 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2012
how do we solve those problems? are they related with our wonderful monogamous paradisiac marriages?

Are you fucking serious? You sound like a whore.

Maybe suicide is so high because of polygamy, which seems to be promoted on TV. Also the fact of college debts, not being able to find a job or support a woman etc.

I can safely say that cheating and money are the main drive to suicide. Pollution etc. are secondary causes of this economy(money) which can cause mental problems.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (14) Jan 24, 2012
Today however, natural attrition rates are lower than ever, people are living far longer, and religionist cultures still insist upon growing at the maximum rate. As a result, activities with any potential for reproduction at all have had to be restricted.

Alternatives such as homosexuality and self-gratification have been decriminalized and are now encouraged.

Even so, in order to meet projections it has been necessary to promote family planning and ABORTION to the tune of ONE BILLION within the last 100 years. This is the single major factor in the peace and stability which has prevailed throughout the west and communist-controlled regions.

Elsewhere, where religion still dominates cultures and prevents education, conflict reigns. Societies desperately trying to outgrow one another in the traditional manner are engulfed in constant war, starvation, and suffering.

This means that the religions which drive this misery must be cast off. This means ALL of them; including yours.
Yellowdart
2.2 / 5 (13) Jan 24, 2012
Polygamy was normal in the Old Testament. When did the god (Ael, Yaweh, Shaddai, whatever you want to call it) change its mind?


When did he ever change it? The actions of men do not change the mind of God. And simply because He does not strike anyone down for it, doesn't mean his mind has changed. Nothing changed from Genesis 2. Yes, many had multiple wives, like Jacob, but you see the problems that arise from such situations. Solomon's kingdom was split because of it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (17) Jan 24, 2012
The actions of men do not change the mind of God.
Sure they do. Examples...

Davids census
"25 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped."

Moses and idol-worshippers
"Then the Lord changed His mind and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened."

Saul the loser
"I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands."(1 Samuel 15:11)."

Ninevah
Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that he had said he would bring upon them, and he did not do it (Jonah 3:10)

-Even satan can convince him to ruin Job.

Also israels fate was sealed when they rejected the prophets and asked god for a king. This is why the they were eventually divided and the 10 tribes carted off to - north america? Ireland?
chromosome2
1 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2012
Seems like God knows best after all, doesn't it?
I have to laugh at the researchers wanting to bring evolution into it. It's a simple consequence of sinful living that is forcing people back to what works best.

How many women would be allowed to take more than one husband? Why is it that men want to have more than one wife but do not want to share a woman? What's up with that? Check it out - the woman who has another man gets kicked out of the union or else gets badly beaten or even eliminated. No, this doesn't mean that I approve of polyandry, just that I want to point out the selfish, irrational and sinful nature of men.


I'm in a bi-androus relationship.. just, you know, for the record. We're out there, we just don't often say so in meatspace. Granted, it's fairly new, so I can't be all "I've shared a woman for 50 years, get off my lawn", but.. yeah.