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.
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Camperio Ciani et al. (2016) also reported no significant difference in kin-directed altruism between a “third” gender group of same-sex attracted natal males and opposite-sex attracted men in a sample of Urak-Lawoi from Ko Lipeh island, Thailand; however, this study contained several methodological limitations, including weak statistical power due to small sample sizes of 19 individuals per group, that render the implications for the kin selection hypothesis equivocal (for further discussion, see Vasey, VanderLaan, Hames, & Jaidee, 2016).
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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.
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.
Appendix: Expanded Separation Anxiety Scale-Revised (SAS-R) Sibling Subscalea
Appendix: Expanded Separation Anxiety Scale-Revised (SAS-R) Sibling Subscalea
I worried that my siblings and other kids were not getting along with one another
It upset me when my siblings were not getting along with my parents
I wanted my siblings around so I could take care of them or help them
When my siblings were away from me, I worried they would be in an accident or hurt in some way
When my siblings got sick, I wanted to stay with them and not go to school
I worried a lot about getting separated from my siblings (getting kidnaped, lost)
I did not want to sleep without my siblings being close to me
I had nightmares about being separated from my siblings
If I knew that I would have to be away from my siblings, I would get physically ill (headache, stomach ache)
I felt unsafe if my siblings were not with me
aScale: 1 = Not true; 2 = Rarely true; 3 = Sometimes true; 4 = Often true; 5 = Very true; 6 = Decline to answer (When “decline to answer” was endorsed by participants, it was treated as a missing value)
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VanderLaan, D.P., Petterson, L.J. & Vasey, P.L. Elevated Kin-Directed Altruism Emerges in Childhood and Is Linked to Feminine Gender Expression in Samoan Fa’afafine: A Retrospective Study. Arch Sex Behav 46, 95–108 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0884-2
- Sexual orientation
- Kin selection hypothesis
- Separation anxiety