Kin selection and male androphilia in Samoan fa'afafine

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Vasey, P.; Pocock, D.; VanderLaan, D.
Year of Publication: 2007
Journal: Evolution and Human Behavior
Volume: 28
Start Page: 159
Issue: 3
Pagination: 159-167
Date Published: 05/2007
Publication Language: eng
Keywords: Avuncular tendencies, Independent Samoa, Kin selection, Male androphilia

The Kin Selection Hypothesis for male androphilia posits that genes for male androphilia can be maintained in the population if the fitness costs of not reproducing directly are offset by enhancing inclusive fitness. In theory, androphilic males can increase their inclusive fitness by directing altruistic behavior toward kin, which, in turn, allows kin to increase their reproductive success. Previous research conducted in Western countries has failed to find any support for this hypothesis. The current study tests this basic prediction of the Kin Selection Hypothesis for male androphilia by comparing the altruistic tendencies of androphilic and gynephilic males in the Polynesian nation of Independent Samoa. In Independent Samoa, androphilic males are known locally as fa'afafine. Altruistic tendencies were assessed using a Kin Selection Questionnaire. Comparisons of the altruistic tendencies of fa'afafine and gynephilic men revealed that these two groups did not differ in terms of their overall generosity and allocation of financial resources toward kin, nor did they differ in terms of general neediness or financial resources obtained from kin. Fa'afafine did, however, report greater avuncular tendencies than gynephilic men. Although the greater avuncular tendencies of fa'afafinesupport the basic prediction of the Kin Selection Hypothesis for male androphilia, further research is needed before one can conclude that these elevated tendencies represent a specially designed adaptation for promoting the fitness of kin. We discuss a number of sociocultural factors that might promote the expression of avuncular tendencies by androphilic males in Independent Samoa. Our results underscore the importance of testing functional hypotheses in evolutionarily appropriate environments.

DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2006.08.004