Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 95–108 | Cite as

Elevated Kin-Directed Altruism Emerges in Childhood and Is Linked to Feminine Gender Expression in Samoan Fa’afafine: A Retrospective Study

  • Doug P. VanderLaan
  • Lanna J. Petterson
  • Paul L. Vasey
Special Section: The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation

Abstract

Androphilia refers to sexual attraction toward adult males, whereas gynephilia refers to sexual attraction toward adult females. The kin selection hypothesis posits that androphilic males help kin increase their reproductive output via kin-directed altruism, thus offsetting their own lowered reproduction and contributing to the fitness of genes underpinning male androphilia. Support for this hypothesis has been garnered in several Samoan studies showing that feminine androphilic males (known locally as fa’afafine) report elevated willingness to invest in nieces and nephews in adulthood. Also, recalled childhood kin attachment and concern for kin’s well-being are elevated among Canadian androphilic males (i.e., gay men) and positively associated with childhood feminine gender expression. This study examined whether these childhood patterns were cross-culturally consistent and associated with adulthood kin-directed altruism in a Samoan sample. Samoan gynephilic men, androphilic women, and fa’afafine (N = 470) completed measures of recalled childhood kin attachment and concern for the well-being of kin, recalled childhood gender expression, and willingness in adulthood to invest in nieces and nephews. Fa’afafine recalled elevated anxiety due to separation from kin relative to men and elevated concern for kin’s well-being relative to both men and women. Within groups, these characteristics were most robustly associated with childhood feminine gender expression and willingness in adulthood to invest in nieces and nephews among fa’afafine. These findings are consistent with the kin selection hypothesis and the adaptive feminine phenotype model, which proposes that a disposition toward elevated kin-directed altruism among androphilic males is associated with feminine gender expression.

Keywords

Sexual orientation Evolution Kin selection hypothesis Fa’afafine Samoa Separation anxiety 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doug P. VanderLaan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lanna J. Petterson
    • 3
  • Paul L. Vasey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.Underserved Populations Research Program, Child, Youth and Family DivisionCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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