Elevated Kin-Directed Altruism Emerges in Childhood and Is Linked to Feminine Gender Expression in Samoan Fa’afafine: A Retrospective Study
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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.
KeywordsSexual orientation Evolution Kin selection hypothesis Fa’afafine Samoa Separation anxiety
We thank Paul Ah Kuoi, Resitara Apa, Gardenia Elisaia, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago Elisala, Vaosa Epa, Sarah Faletoese Su’a, Vester Fido Collins, Liulauulu Faaleolea Ah Fook, Gaualofa Matalavea, Avau Memea, Nella Tavita-Levy, Palanitina Toelupe, the Samoan Ministry of Health, the Samoan Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, and the Government of Samoa. Special thanks to Alatina Ioelu and Trisha Tuiloma without whom this work would not be possible. DPV was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Sexual Medicine Society of North America Postdoctoral Fellowships as well as the University of Toronto Mississauga. LJP was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada Undergraduate Research Award, a Master’s scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, and a Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group grant. PLV was funded by the University of Lethbridge, a SSHRC of Canada Insight Grant, and an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Sustainability Fund Grant.
The first author was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Sexual Medicine Society of North America Postdoctoral Fellowships. The second author was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada Undergraduate Research Award and a Master’s scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The last author was funded by a SSHRC of Canada Insight Grant, and an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Sustainability Fund Grant.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of interest
All authors declare no conflict of interest related to this submission.
Human and Animal Rights
All procedures in this study were approved by the Institutional Research Ethics Board at the last author’s institution. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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