Paternity assurance refers to cultural practices or evolved behavior in men aimed at ensuring that the offspring the man invests in is theirs. Women do not face this problem as they can always be certain the offspring they give birth to is theirs unless they stupidly mix up the babies. Men's desire to ensure paternity can explain the evolution of a large variety of human behaviors and it may explain why women's sexual behavior has heavily controlled across cultures and history.
Women seem to be genetically oblivious to this problem that men face, so they will gleefully flirt with other men and provoke their partner's mate guarding behavior, which is an instance of sexual conflict as women want to test a variety of men to get the best (looking) genes for her offspring.
Men have an extra incentive to ensure paternity because they provide most of the resources, which would be wasted on another man's offspring from a genetic point of view, if he is not careful. Not just men, but also entire families have the desire that the family's wealth remains within the family. This may even have evolved as a kinship adaptation.
Adaptations[edit | edit source]
Below is a list of traits and behavioral traits that may have (culturally) evolved for the purpose of paternity assurance:
- Pump and dump (promiscuity): When men do not need to invest in the offspring, they tend to have much lower standards than women. However, in questions of marriage, they are also fairly choosy, presumably because they need to invest their resources and for that it is worth getting good (looking) genes.
- Neoteny and hebephilia: By monopolizing women very early on (i.e. as children), men can ensure that no other man already had a child with the woman. This may explain why most men experience sexual arousal in response to sexual stimuli of female children or young teenagers.
- Religion: It has been proposed that various aspects of religions serve the purpose of ensuring paternity.
- Female gossip: Since men desire certainty regarding paternity, women are incentivized to denigrate other women's reputation of chastity and faithfulness by slut-shaming.
References[edit | edit source]