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Intra-vaginal anti-cuckoldry tactics and the psychobiology of semen: An Evo Psych pop quiz

Napping: A terrible anti-cuckoldry tactic
Napping: A terribly ineffective anti-cuckoldry tactic

Today, a little Evo Psych Pop Quiz for you all!

5 of the following 6 statements are actual quotes from a 2007 article in the open access peer-reviewed journal Evolutionary Psychology. Can you spot the quote that isn’t from the article?

  1. “The section on intra-vaginal anti-cuckoldry tactics focuses on sperm competition, providing fascinating descriptions of the semen-displacement hypothesis (Gallup Jr. and Burch) and the psychobiology of semen (Burch and Gallup Jr.).”
  2. “[I]ntra-vaginal battles demand men to become aroused to situations that are actually unpleasant for them, for instance the suspicion of their partner’s infidelity.”
  3. “This section also includes discussions of the interesting notions that … women should not be motivated to have sex with their main partner right after an extra-pair copulation because of the possibility of sperm displacement (the penis appears to be shaped to do just that), [and] that a man may manipulate a woman’s mood via semen content (Rice, 1996, has experimentally shown something similar in fruit flies) … .”
  4.  “One of the mating strategies examined as an early prevention method is violence against women within partnered relationships.”
  5.  “Despite this scrutiny, a man can still gain from deliberately ejaculating in front of his partner from time to time. Choosing each occasion carefully so as to display a good ejaculation can be a powerful way to advertise his continuing good health.”
  6. “Affirmative feedback did not increase men’s likelihood to allocate resources to self-morphed images, but men were significantly less likely to allocate resources to self morphed images when told the morphed image did not resemble them … . “

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Answer: Number 5 is the ringer! But, lacking confidence in my own ability to come up with something as convincingly batty as the quotes from the real article, I cheated a little here, borrowing this quote from a real Evo Psych book — Sperm Wars, by Robin Baker, a popular title from a major publisher recommended on countless Pickup Artist and “Red Pill” reading lists. It’s a truly bizarre and often quite disturbing read. (If you have a bit of Google-fu you should be able to locate a pdf of it online with no trouble.)

And speaking of pdfs, if you want tp read the article in Evo Psych I got most of these quotes from, a book review by Kelly D. Suschinsky and Martin L. Lalumière titled The View From the Cuckold, you can find a pdf of it here. See, I really didn’t just make it up!

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thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
8 years ago

@Dusty

I know a story about Nice Guys.

Once upon a time there was a Nice Guy. He was very angry about being such a Nice Guy. But then it turned out that he hadn’t been a Nice Guy at all! He’d been an ‘Oh God Not That Fucking Creeper AGAIN’ Guy! So he went and called some women bitches on the internet (not because he found this out, he still thought he was a Nice Guy) and everyone lived happily ever after, except for the fake Nice Guy, who got hit by a steamroller.

The end.

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

But, we couldn’t go that extra step and say “the reason hugging increases oxytocin is because it makes people feel closer to their loved ones, which increases the desire to work on their behalf.” That requires evopsych.

I dunno, I mean, I kind of feel like we can’t say that? >.>

Celly
Celly
8 years ago

This is totally off topic, but I found something quite um interesting on another site that might have been written by a certain prominent mra that I would like to forward to david but I don’t know how to contact him?

Pear_tree
Pear_tree
8 years ago

The problem I have with some evopsych, particular the women are natural passive homemakers stuff is it doesn’t represent my lived emotions or those of my friends.

Even friends with children feel isolated without regular adult company and conversation. I also don’t know anyone who was a natural parents rather than finding it a scary and intimidating (but worthwhile) experience.

I don’t think I know anyone naturally passive, although I know people who have worked towards being passive.

Evopsych seems to be used to justify why certain groups of the population get stuck with shit while the rest get the good stuff. I feel if those arguments were even semi real I wouldn’t feel that way, as I’d naturally feel I was in the group offered the good stuff.

This isn’t to say I have a bad life but I haven’t followed what the MRA feel is natural. I don’t disrespect women who like work that is considered naturally feminine like care work etc but I can’t see all women liking it.

dustydeste
dustydeste
8 years ago

@thenatfantastic – I like that story! That is a good story! The steamroller is a nice touch 😀

Also, though, if you shorten my nym, could you use the “deste” part, please? I’m not offended or anything, it’s just my preference.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

The more charitable explanation is that we need evolutionary psychology to do any psychology at all, because if we didn’t have it, then we couldn’t assign functionality to anything.

Whoever initially taught you about how psychology works owes you a refund.

tedthefed
tedthefed
8 years ago

Viscaria: We can certianly say it as a theory which allows us to form hypotheses and, in turn, collect evidence to see if the theory holds true. (“theory” in the sense that evolution itself is a theory.) The only other possibility is to just never infer anything about the functions of any psychological phenomenon ever, which doesn’t seem like the most useful thing to do.

Especially since, as in the case of this oxytocin thing, putting it into the framework has allowed people to find some pretty cool stuff:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195271/
http://www.pnas.org/content/108/4/1262.short

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

@ Viscaria

You’ve just hit on a key problem right there. That conclusion is not science. It may vaguely resemble science if you’re not paying attention and don’t understand experimental design very well, but it’s not actually science at all, it’s just someone going “well, this explanation makes sense to me – it just feels right, you know? so it’s probably true”.

tedthefed
tedthefed
8 years ago

CassandraSays: What do you mean? What about psychology am I missing?

We can observe and see what something does. But we need a larger theory to do inferences about what it’s FOR. Anger inspires people to approach a specific target we perceive as having commited a wrong, but to generalize it’s important to be able to talk about the function. And evolutionary psych lets us have reasons for things existing. Now we can say “Anger is FOR motivating people to redress wrongs.”

Humans have opposable thumbs. Humans manipulate tools with those thumbs. But without evolution (or, as I said before, assuming the presence of a mindful creator), we couldn’t say “those opposable thumbs are for manipulating tools.” It’s the same thing.

dustydeste
dustydeste
8 years ago

tedthefed – Neither of those findings require “the reason hugging increases oxytocin is because it makes people feel closer to their loved ones, which increases the desire to work on their behalf” or anything similar. They’re simply looking at the effects of oxytocin. There’s no need to do weird twisty “well we evolved like this because women were collecting berries” or whatever justifications in order to study the actual effects of actual substances on actual modern humans.

Shadow
Shadow
8 years ago

The thing with evo psych is, I don’t disagree with a lot of the criticisms of evo psych, but I feel like a lot of people fail to see just how endemic to the whole field of psychology those problems are, especially the generalising of findings from young, Western undergrads. As far as evo psych studies go, I generally hold them to the same standards as I do every other psych study I read i.e. if you haven’t done a cross-cultural study or a meta-analysis of similar studies done with other, disparate cultures, and you use the word “humans” or “people” in your conclusion, you can fuck right off.

Shadow
Shadow
8 years ago

BTW, the above post is not to accuse anybody here of not knowing this, just something that I come across a lot myself.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

And evolutionary psych lets us have reasons for things existing.

Nope, what it allows you to do is propose an explanation which instinctively feels right to you and tell yourself that you’ve proven it. Which your anger example is, ironically enough, an excellent example of.

We don’t know what anger is for. We know that it exists, and we can study how it works, but that doesn’t actually tell us its purpose, or even if it has a purpose.

thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
8 years ago

if you shorten my nym, could you use the “deste” part

Sorry! I should have asked. I used to have an awesome feminist friend I used to call ‘Dusty’ which I think is why I automatically chose that bit ^_^

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

Shadow, I hope my language was clear on the last page when I was talking about over-generalizing studies done on college students — I was talking about psychology as a whole, not evo-psych specifically. I might have written it poorly. Or maybe you’re not talking about me specifically because the whole world doesn’t revolve around me…

saintnick86
saintnick86
8 years ago

My problem with evo-psych is, and excuse the cliche, that it puts the cart before the horse.

A lot of the evo-psych articles I read as well as the summary for scholastic papers dealing with it have one thing in common: projection. Specifically, they are projecting modern day sensibilities onto older cultures that are better researched by way of other disciplines like archeology, anthropology, etc. Psychology deals with modern attitudes because, well, their behavior can be observed and recorded – whereas a lot of evo-psych comes off as armchair ruminations based entirely on hypotheticals. Given we can’t observe the behavior of people from older cultures firsthand, it’s why we tend to base it off historical evidence whether they’re written records or artifacts. Their actions would greatly differ from what we’re used to seeing from people in the here and now and, more importantly, evo-psych often neglects the fact individuals are often conditioned by their culture – instead applying biological instinct to explain it; That’s why the appeal to nature fallacy is so prevalent and is a big enough flaw to make one reasonably suspicious about it as a particular brand of study.

tedthefed
tedthefed
8 years ago

CassandraSays (sorry to reply to you in two separate comments, but I wanted to reply to your more recent one): That’s because it’s a theory and not a conclusion. It’s induction. The theorized functionality of oxytocin then allows you to develop hypotheses which in turn may support the theory.
that thing about “this feels right so it’s probably true” is actually a necessary step in science. It’s why we never test hypotheses about whether flowers cause the tides or whether lava is made of starfish. They just feel ludicrous, so we spend our time on theories that feel more plausible. Without the emotional response, we’d never have any reason for originally prefering one theory to another.

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

BTW, the above post is not to accuse anybody here of not knowing this, just something that I come across a lot myself.

Yup, I definitely should have refreshed the page before posting. Sorry!

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Agreed that the over-reliance on undergrads just because they’re a convenient pool to draw subjects from is an endemic problem in psychology. For extra fun, consider what happens when the undergrads in question are studying psychology themselves and start trying to figure out what the purpose of the experiment is.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

The problem is that people who are fans of evo-psych don’t treat their theories as theories, they treat them as proven conclusions. Which you did yourself earlier, apparently without even realizing it.

dustydeste
dustydeste
8 years ago

I agree as far as the issues of mainstream psychology and the huuuuge problems associated with using a predominantly female, white, upper-middle class, Western, 18-23-year-old sample to generalize to the global population… but, while the science is often problematic, at least it’s still science. At least they’re not usually predicating their experiments on a forgone conclusion. Evo-psych as generally done these days involves far too much twisty justification of things people already believe without any kind of experimentation to back it up for me to feel that it qualifies in any way as actual science.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

But thanks for splaining what a theory is to me. It’s not like I learned that while I was at Uni or anything.

(I also can’t use Google.)

dustydeste
dustydeste
8 years ago

that thing about “this feels right so it’s probably true” is actually a necessary step in science.

But “this feels right” isn’t sufficient to say that “this is right;” you’re going from hypothesis to conclusion with no experimentation to prove anything. And the big issue here is that many/most evo-psych hypotheses/conclusions are, by their nature, untestable.

dustydeste
dustydeste
8 years ago

@thenatfantastic – It’s fine, really! I just figured I’d put it out there; it’s not like I can just expect people to be magical psychics and just know 🙂

Lady Mondegreen
Lady Mondegreen
8 years ago

the reason hugging increases oxytocin is because it makes people feel closer to their loved ones, which increases the desire to work on their behalf.” That requires evopsych

No, it doesn’t work that way. Hugging doesn’t increase oxytocin for a reason. That’s not evolutionary theory, that’s teleology. I don’t think even the evo psychers would go that far.

There are all kinds of interesting facts about oxytocin and the ways in which it facilitates pro-social behavior, but you don’t need evo psych to form hypotheses about it. Ordinary evolutionary biology does just fine.

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