Pedophilia pp 201-220 | Cite as

Mechanisms of Inbreeding Avoidance in Nonhuman Primates

  • Anne Pusey


Anthropologists have long noted that there is a universal tendency for humans to avoid and to prohibit sexual activity between various categories of relatives. This universal phenomenon of incest avoidance was regarded by some as a uniquely human characteristic that sets humans apart from animals. Recently, however, it has become clear that many animals also avoid mating with their close relatives, and several anthropologists have pointed to a biological basis for human incest taboos (e.g., Bischof, 197S; van den Berghe, 1982; Durham, in press). In this chapter, this author reviews the evidence that nonhuman primates avoid mating with their relatives and almost never breed with them. “Inbreeding” is used as a general term to describe breeding with consanguineous relatives. Close inbreeding is defined as “mating and breeding with first-degree relatives such as parents or siblings” and is synonymous with incest as it is defined in this volume.


Sexual Behavior Nonhuman Primate Rhesus Macaque Natal Group Japanese Macaque 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Pusey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Behavioral BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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