Human Nature

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 113–137 | Cite as

The evolutionary psychology of mate selection in Morocco

A multivariate analysis
  • Alex WalterEmail author


Patterns of mate preference in Morocco are investigated in order to test whether they support hypotheses advanced by David Buss and other evolutionary psychologists. Because of the custom of cousin marriage in Morocco, a multivariate model that included cosocialization data was developed for the purpose of testing the Westermarck hypothesis of inbreeding avoidance. Hence, two previously separate domains of research are unified in one design that permits the further exploration of questions pertaining to the domain specificity of psychological mechanisms. Multiple independent mate choice predictors were identified using logistic regression analysis. Results support the Westermarck hypothesis of inbreeding avoidance. Sleeping in the same room during childhood was found in both sexes to produce an aversion to marriage. Other evidence suggests that aversion to inbreeding extends further among females than males in that females but not males show an aversion to marriage to related individuals with whom they had daily social contact in early childhood. The evolutionary prediction that females differ from males concerning resource holding capacity was also supported. Females showed a preference for males whom they judged to have higher social status than theirs, while this criterion was unimportant for males. The predicted sex difference in preferred age of marriage partner was also supported. Contrary to previous findings, the predicted difference between the sexes with regard to physical attractiveness was not supported.

Key words

Cousin marriage Domain specificity Evolutionary psychology Inbreeding avoidance Mate selection Morocco Sociobiology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bevc, I., and I. Silverman 1993 Early Proximity and Intimacy between Siblings and Incestuous Behavior: A Test of the Westermarck Theory. Ethology and Sociobiology 14:171–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, P. 1977 Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Buss, D. M. 1985 Human Mate Selection. American Scientist 73:47–51.Google Scholar
  4. 1988 From Vigilance to Violence: Mate Guarding Tactics. Ethology and Sociobiology 9:291–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 1989 Sex Differences in Human Mate Preferences: Evolutionary Hypotheses Tested in 37 Cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12(1):1–49.Google Scholar
  6. 1990 Evolutionary Social Psychology: Prospects and Pitfalls. Motivation and Emotion 14:264–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 1991 Evolutionary Personality Psychology. Annual Review of Psychology 42:459–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 1994 The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Buss, D. M., and M. Barnes 1986 Preferences in Human Mate Selection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 50(3):559–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buss, D. M., and D. P. Schmitt 1993 Sexual Strategies Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Mating. Psychological Review 100:204–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buss, D. M., et al. 1990 International Preferences in Selecting Mates: A Study of 37 Cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 21(1):5–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Caporael, L. 1989 Mechanisms Matter: The Difference between Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12(1):17–18.Google Scholar
  13. Cosmides, L., and J. Tooby 1994 Origins of Domain Specificity: The Evolution of Functional Organization. In Mapping the Mind, L. Hirschfeld and S. Gelman, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Daly, M., M. Wilson, and S. L. Weghorst 1982 Male Sexual Jealousy. Ethology and Sociobiology 3:11–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeMarest, W. J. 1983 Does Familiarity Necessarily Lead to Erotic Indifference and Incest Avoidance Because Inbreeding Lowers Reproductive Fitness? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6:106–107.Google Scholar
  16. Diggle, P. 1994 Analysis of Longitudinal Data. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Fox, R. 1962 Sibling Incest. British Journal of Sociology 13:128–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Glenn, N. D. 1989 Intersocietal Variation in the Mate Preferences of Males and Females. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12(1):21–23.Google Scholar
  19. Holy, L. 1989 Kinship, Honour and Solidarity: Cousin Marriage in the Middle East. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hosmer, D. W., and S. Lemeshow 1989 Introduction to Applied Logistic Regression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Irons, W. 1989 Mating Preference Surveys: Ethnographic Follow-up Would Be a Good Next Step. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12(1):24.Google Scholar
  22. Kenrick, D. T., and R. C. Keefe 1992 Age Preferences in Mates Reflect Sex Differences in Reproductive Strategies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15:75–133.Google Scholar
  23. Khuri, F. 1970 Parallel Cousin Marriage Reconsidered: A Middle Eastern Practice That Nullifies the Effects of Marriage on the Intensity of Family Relationships. Man (n.s.) 5(4):597–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kitcher, P. 1985 Vaulting Ambition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Leavitt, G. C. 1990 Sociobiological Explanations of Incest Avoidance: A Critical Review of Evidential Claims. American Anthropologist 92:971–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lumsden, C., and E. O. Wilson 1981 Genes, Minds, and Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. McCabe, J. 1983 FBD Marriage: Further Support for the Westermarck Hypothesis of the Incest Taboo? American Anthropologist 85:50–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parker, S. 1976 The Precultural Basis of the Incest Taboo: Toward a Biosocial Theory. American Anthropologist 78:285–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pastner, C. 1986 The Westermarck Hypothesis and First Cousin Marriage: The Cultural Modification of Negative Sexual Imprinting. Journal of Anthropological Research 42:573–586.Google Scholar
  30. Remoff, H. T. 1984 Sexual Choice: A Woman’s Decision. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
  31. Shepher, J. 1971 Mate Selection among Second Generation Kibbutz Adolescents and Adults: Incest Avoidance and Negative Imprinting. Archives of Sexual Behavior 1:293–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 1983 Incest: A Biosocial View. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  33. Symons, D. 1979 The Evolution of Human Sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. 1989a A Critique of Darwinian Anthropology. Ethology and Sociobiology 10:131–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 1989b The Psychology of Human Mate Preferences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12:34–35.Google Scholar
  36. Thornhill, N. W. 1990 The Evolutionary Significance of Incest Rules. Ethology and Sociobiology 11:113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 1991 An Evolutionary Analysis of Rules Regulating Human Inbreeding and Marriage. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14(2):205–246.Google Scholar
  38. Tooby, J., and L. Cosmides 1990 The Past Explains the Present: Emotional Adaptations and the Structure of Ancestral Environments. Ethology and Sociobiology 11:375–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Townsend, J. M. 1989 Mate Selection Criteria. Ethology and Sociobiology 10:241–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Townsend, J. M., and G. D. Levy 1990 Effects of Potential Partners’ Physical Attractiveness and Socioeconomic Status Sexuality and Partner Selection. Archives of Sexual Behavior 19:149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Trivers, R. L. 1972 Parental Investment and Sexual Selection. In Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man, 1871–1971, B. Campbell ed. Pp. 136–179. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  42. van den Berghe, P. 1983 Human Inbreeding Avoidance: Culture in Nature. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6:91–123.Google Scholar
  43. Wallen, K. 1989 Mate Selection: Economics and Affection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 12(1):37–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Weiderman, M. W. 1993 Evolved Gender Differences in Mate Preferences: Evidence from Personal Advertisements. Ethology and Sociobiology 14:331–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Weiderman, M. W., and E. R. Allgeier 1992 Gender Differences in Mate Selection Criteria: Sociobiological or Socioeconomic Explanation? Ethology and Sociobiology 13:115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 1993 Gender Differences in Sexual Jealousy: Adaptationist or Social Learning Explanation? Ethology and Sociobiology 14:115–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Welham, C. V. J. 1990 Incest: An Evolutionary View. Ethology and Sociobiology 11:97–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Westermarck, E. 1926 A Short History of Marriage. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  49. Wolf, A. 1968 Adopt a Daughter-In-Law, Marry a Sister: A Chinese Solution to the Problem of the Incest Taboo. American Anthropologist 70:864–874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 1970 Childhood Association and Sexual Attraction: A Further Test of the Westermarck Hypothesis. American Anthropologist 72:503–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolf, A., and C. Huang 1980 Marriage and Adoption in China: 1845–1945. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations