The Evolution of Tenuous Pair Bonding in Humans

A Plausible Pathway and Indicators of Design

Authored by: Timothy Crippen

Handbook on Evolution and Society

Print publication date:  January  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781612058146
eBook ISBN: 9781315634203
Adobe ISBN: 9781317258339


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Pair bonding stands as the principal reproductive strategy adopted by humans and, among other things, underlies relationships, such as households, that are central to the human social condition. And yet, as fundamental as the strategy may be, the durability of specific pair bonds often is extraordinarily fragile. The key goals of this chapter are to explore the evolutionary bases of the pair bonding inclination in humans, primarily by contrasting competing hypotheses that focus either on parental collaboration or on male mating effort and mate guarding as crucial selection pressures governing its emergence and persistence; to explore some of the evidence regarding aspects of human anatomy and physiology suggesting that, as organisms, we are "built to bond"; and to consider why, despite the fact that pair bonding is such a crucial and persistent feature of human social life, the pair bond itself is all too often a tenuous social tie.

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