Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 652–656 | Cite as

Sex Differences in Subjective Estimates of Non-Paternity Rates in Austria

  • Martin Voracek
  • Maryanne FisherEmail author
  • Todd K. Shackelford
Original Paper


The determination of paternity is important due to the possibility of cuckoldry and the subsequent squandering of male reproductive effort. Men may be attuned to prevalence rates of cuckoldry in the local environment to assess risk. However, women may have an enhanced ability to assess paternity and may have superior insight into women’s sexual infidelity. Accordingly, this study examined subjective estimates of human non-paternity (HNP), the discrepancy between social/legal versus genetic paternity. The hypothesis was that women would provide higher estimates of HNP than men. A sex difference in the hypothesized direction was observed across four community samples of Austrian adults (totalling 763 men and 795 women), with women overall providing higher HNP estimates than men (14.5% vs. 9.1%). Furthermore, key demographic variables impacted HNP estimates for both sexes: individuals who were unmarried, childless, currently unpartnered, or currently in a romantic relationship of a shorter duration provided higher HNP estimates than their counterparts, thus suggesting that such estimates might be attuned to mating effort and strategies, as well as relationship quality and investment.


Paternity certainty Sex differences Subjective estimates Infidelity Mate selection 



The contributions of Angelika Hofhansl, Bettina Manfrini, Helga Preston-Leikauf, and Cornelia Stadlhuber to data collection for this research are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Voracek
    • 1
  • Maryanne Fisher
    • 2
    Email author
  • Todd K. Shackelford
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Basic Psychological Research, School of PsychologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySaint Mary’s UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityDavieUSA

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