College of Psychology: Faculty Articles


Male materetention behaviors vary with risk of partner infidelity and sperm competition

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Acta Psychologica Sinica






Sperm competition occurs when the sperm of two or more males concurrently occupy the reproductive tract of a single female and compete to fertilize an egg. This can be costly if the woman's social partner loses the competition and, as a consequence, invests in offspring that are not genetically his own, a situation known as cuckoldry. Previous research suggests that men may have evolved tactics such as mate retention behaviors that reduce the risk of sperm competition and cuckoldry. The current research provides new evidence that men at greater risk of partner infidelity and sperm competition, measured as having spent a greater proportion of time apart from their partner since the couple's last in-pair copulation, more frequently perform a variety of mate retention behaviors, such as calling unexpectedly to check up on their partners, monopolizing their partners' time when around other men, and threatening other men who show an interest in their partners.