Sexual Coercion and Forced In-Pair Copulation as Sperm Competition Tactics in Humans

Monday, September 23, 2013

Todd K. Shackelford

Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology
Oakland University

PRape of women by men might be generated either by a specialized rape adaptation or as a by-product of other psychological adaptations. Although increasing number of sexual partners is a proposed benefit of rape according to the “rape as an adaptation” and the “rape as a by-product” hypotheses, neither hypothesis addresses directly why some men rape their long-term partners, to whom they already have sexual access. In two studies we tested specific hypotheses derived from the general hypothesis that sexual coercion in the context of an intimate relationship may function as a sperm competition tactic. We hypothesized that men’s sexual coercion in the context of an intimate relationship is related positively to his partner’s perceived infidelities and that men’s sexual coercion is related positively to their mate retention behaviors (behaviors designed to prevent a partner’s infidelity). The results from Study 1 (self-reports from 246 men) and Study 2 (partner-reports from 276 women) supported the hypotheses. The Discussion section addresses limitations of this research and highlights future directions for research on sexual coercion in intimate relationships.


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