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The Human Polygyny Index and its Ecological Correlates: Testing Sexual Selection and Life History Theory at the Cross-National Level

Authors

  • David P. Schmitt,

    Corresponding author
    1. Bradley University
    • Direct correspondence to David P. Schmitt, Department of Psychology, 75 Bradley Hall, Bradley University, Peoria, IL 61625 〈dps@bradley.edu〉, or to Percy A. Rohde, Universität Kassel, Fachbereich 01, Institut für Psychologie, Holländische Str. 36–38, D-34127, Kassel, Germany 〈percy.rohde@t-online.de〉.

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  • Percy A. Rohde

    Corresponding author
    1. Universität Kassel
    • Direct correspondence to David P. Schmitt, Department of Psychology, 75 Bradley Hall, Bradley University, Peoria, IL 61625 〈dps@bradley.edu〉, or to Percy A. Rohde, Universität Kassel, Fachbereich 01, Institut für Psychologie, Holländische Str. 36–38, D-34127, Kassel, Germany 〈percy.rohde@t-online.de〉.

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  • The authors shall share all data and coding for replication purposes. The authors would like to thank Melinda Jacobs, Jessica Nadler, and Jeffrey Taylor for their comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Abstract

Objectives

Sexual selection theory suggests patterns of covariance among polygynous mating behaviors and ecological variables at the cross-national level. We quantified national levels of polygyny using the human polygyny index (HPI), a ratio of men's to women's variability in the numbers of sex partners over the past year.

Methods

HPI scores were available for 48 nations from the International Sexuality Description Project (Schmitt, 2005), and were used to test three hypotheses: (1) human polygyny should be associated with increased intrasexual competition (e.g., high male-male aggression and resource competition), (2) human polygyny should be associated with features of natural and intersexual selection (e.g., high pathogen stress and an emphasis on physical attractiveness in mate choice), and (3) human polygyny should be associated with early and more prolific reproduction.

Results

All three hypotheses received at least partial support.

Conclusions

Discussion focuses on the limitations and implications of the current findings.

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