Instinctive incest avoidance: A paradigm case for evolutionary psychology evaporates

Westermarck proposed that humans have an incest avoidance instinct, triggered by frequent intimate contact with family members during the first several years of life. Westermarck reasons that familial incest will tend to produce less fit offspring, those humans without instinctive incest avoidance would hence have tended to die off and those with the avoidance instinct would have produced more viable offspring, and hence familial incest would be, as indeed it is, universally and instinctively avoided . Victorian Westermarck claimed this as a human adaptation. Evolutionary psychologists have generalized these claims to Pleistocene humans and their ancestors, to primates, and indeed to animals generally. Yet there is surprisingly little evidence for these claims of universal instinctive avoidance. Considerable inbreeding appears among large, territorial primates and may have been so with early humans and with their ancestors. While there is little reliable non-anecdotal evidence about incestuous behavior or the lack of it among humans, what little there is does not fit well with the Westermarck thesis
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5914.2006.00313.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,470
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Edward O. Wilson (1976). Sociobiology. Philosophy of Science 43 (2):305-306.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

70 ( #69,680 of 1,925,544 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #254,979 of 1,925,544 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.