Is monogamy essential to democracy? A psychologist argues in favor of romantic exclusivity
One of the best arguments for monogamy is an argument against polygamy. That is, if you ask Joseph Henrich, whose expertise was called upon last year during a Canadian Supreme Court’s reconsideration of a ban on plural marriage.
In a 64-page affidavit, the University of British Columbia professor used his areas of expertise—psychology, anthropology and economics—to demonstrate the social harm associated with men taking multiple wives. Implicit in his argument was an endorsement of monogamy, which, he wrote, “seems to redirect male motivations in ways that generate lower crime rates, greater GDP per capita, and better outcomes for children.” His interest isn’t in the individual, emotional experience of sexual and romantic exclusivity so much as the evolution of cultural norms and how they impact society.
Last week, I spoke with an expert who explained why monogamy makes biological sense. This time around, I spoke with Henrich about the evolutionary basis for monogamy. Read InterviewBy Tracy Clark-Flory