Perceived Risk of Female Infidelity Moderates the Relationship Between Objective Risk of Female Infidelity and Sexual Coercion in Humans (Homo sapiens)
William F. McKibbin, Valerie G. Starratt, Todd K. Shackelford, and Aaron T. Goetz
Female extrapair copulation (EPC) can be costly to a woman’s long-term romantic partner. If a woman has copulated recently with a man other than her long-term partner, her reproductive tract may contain the sperm of both men, initiating sperm competition (whereby sperm from multiple males compete to fertilize an egg). Should the woman become pregnant, her long-term partner is at risk of cuckoldry—investing unwittingly in offspring to whom he is not genetically related. Previous research in humans (Homo sapiens) and in nonhuman animals suggests that males have evolved tactics such as partner-directed sexual coercion that reduce the risk of cuckoldry. The current research provides preliminary evidence that mated men (n 223) at greater risk of partner EPC, measured as having spent a greater proportion of time apart from their partner since the couple’s last in-pair copulation, more frequently perform partner-directed sexually coercive behaviors. This relationship is moderated, however, by men’s perceived risk of partner EPC, such that the correlation between the proportion of time spent apart since last in-pair copulation and sexually coercive behaviors remains significant only for those men who perceive themselves to be at some risk of partner EPC. Discussion addresses limitations of this research and highlights directions for future research investigating the relationship between female EPC and men’s partner-directed sexual coercion.