Assortative Mating, Class, and Caste

  • Henry HarpendingEmail author
  • Gregory Cochran
Part of the Evolutionary Psychology book series (EVOLPSYCH)


We develop a quantitative genetic model of positive assortative mating for a neutral trait, where trait is simply a direction in a high dimensional space. We think of conscientiousness or intelligence or aggressiveness or earnings potential as examples of traits that might be important to social science (without suggesting that these are or ever were neutral). Even though the trait is selectively neutral, the mating system mimics strong selection both for and against the trait, depending on the group membership of an individual. The mating system generates strong group differences very rapidly and, as the system persists, arbitrary groups are transformed into something like hereditary castes.


Caste Socioeconomic status Class Kinship Relationship Correlation between mates Inbreeding 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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