Why do men marry and why do they stray? Academic Article uri icon


  • Humans are quite unusual compared to other great apes in that reproduction typically takes place within long-term, iteroparous pairings--social arrangements that have been culturally reified as the institution of marriage. With respect to male behaviour, explanations of marriage fall into two major schools of thought. One holds that marriage facilitates a sexual division of labour and paternal investment, both important to the rearing of offspring that are born helpless and remain dependent for remarkably long periods (provisioning model). And the other suggests that the main benefits which men receive from entering into marriage derive from monopolizing access to women's fertility (mating effort model). In this paper, we explore extramarital sexual relationships and the conditions under which they occur as a means of testing predictions derived from these two models. Using data on men's extramarital sexual relationships among Tsimane forager-horticulturists in lowland Bolivia, we tested whether infidelity was more common when men had less of an opportunity to invest in their children or when they risked losing less fertility. We found that Tsimane men appear to be biasing the timing of their affairs to when they are younger and have fewer children, supporting the provisioning model.

published proceedings

  • Proc Biol Sci

altmetric score

  • 6.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Winking, J., Kaplan, H., Gurven, M., & Rucas, S

citation count

  • 53

complete list of authors

  • Winking, Jeffrey||Kaplan, Hillard||Gurven, Michael||Rucas, Stacey

publication date

  • July 2007