Are Humans Naturally Monogamous? | Summary and Q&A

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August 22, 2020
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Chris Williamson
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Are Humans Naturally Monogamous?

TL;DR

In ancestral hunter-gatherer societies, monogamy was prevalent due to the inability to hoard resources and the need for trust and cooperation among men. However, infidelity and divorce still existed.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why were hunter-gatherer societies mostly monogamous?

Hunter-gatherer societies couldn't stockpile resources, so men had to rely on each other in war and hunting. It was crucial for men to have equal access to sexual partners for trust and cooperation to thrive.

Q: Did infidelity and poaching exist in ancestral societies?

Yes, infidelity and poaching were present in hunter-gatherer societies, as research on modern-day societies has shown. However, monogamy was still the norm for stability and survival.

Q: When did polygamy emerge in human societies?

Polygamy and its variations appeared after the advent of agriculture, allowing people to settle in one place, accumulate resources, and wield power. It was not prevalent in hunter-gatherer societies.

Q: Are humans naturally monogamous or promiscuous?

Humans are neither purely monogamous nor promiscuous. There is no universal template for human behavior. However, both modern society and ancestral societies have found stability through monogamy, despite individuals experiencing various desires and urges.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Hunter-gatherer societies were mostly monogamous due to the inability to accumulate resources and the need for trust and cooperation among men.

  • In these societies, access to sexual partners was relatively equal for the survival of the tribe.

  • Infidelity, poaching, and divorce existed in small bands, but the concept of polygamy appeared after the rise of agriculture.

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