Father Absence in Childhood and its Effects on Mating Strategy

Posted on December 7, 2016

Photo: flickr

There are broadly two types of heterosexual mating strategies that humans pursue: short-term and the long-term mating strategy. Short-term mating strategy means forming brief relationships with multiple partners while long-term mating strategy means forming an enduring relationship, typically with one partner.

There are numerous factors that lead to how an individual pursue his/her mating strategy. It has been observed that the presence or absence of a father in a child’s early life is one strong factor that influences the type of mating strategy that he or she is likely to adopt later in life.

Studies have shown that individuals who grow up in the absence of their father during the first 5-7 years tend to establish short-term mating strategy marked by early sexual maturation, early sexual initiation, and frequent partner switching.

On the contrary, individuals who have a reliably investing father during the first 5-7 years of life are likely to pursue a long-term mating strategy, marked by a delay of sexual maturation, later onset of sexual activity, and a search for securely attached long-term adult relationships.

Children who grow up in the absence of their father develop the mentality that parental resources will not be reliable or predictable and that adult relationships are bound to be non-enduring and transitory. As a result, they pursue the strategy with a high reproductive rate designed to produce larger number of children, with low levels of investment in each.

Conversely, a different mentality has been developed for children who grow up in homes with reliably investing fathers. Their relationship partners are reliable and relationships are expected to be enduring. Resulting in the pursue of strategy with low reproductive rate designed to produce a few children, with high levels of investment in each.

It’s likely that our ancestors who adopted this strategy in times when they had sufficient resources to invest in their offspring out-reproduced those who didn’t. In this case, greater reproductive success could be attained by investing more in a few offspring as opposed to investing little in a larger number of offspring.

What we have been discussing so far, had a similar happening in Berlin, Germany after World War 1, albeit on a much larger, societal scale. The war rendered nearly 2 million children fatherless and German economy was crippled by hyperinflation. In other words, a whole generation was raised without fathers and enough resources.

As predicted by evolutionary psychology, this generation grew up to pursue short-term sexual strategy with drugs, prostitution, strip clubs, and sex clubs being rampant in the city to the point that it was at the time dubbed ‘a center of hedonism’ and ‘the sex capital of Europe.’

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Category(s):Child Development

Source material from Psych Mechanics


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