The funniest thing about the r/K divide within our species is how pervasive it is. Everywhere I look, I see aspects of it manifesting in our culture, our behavior, our history, and even our future.
Here is a free abstract from an interesting study examining the “balancing selection hypothesis” of homosexuality.
Let me rephrase this, so it makes more sense. There may be a gene which produces women who are more fertile, have more offspring, and want to deal with children less. At the same time it makes men more feminine (and more promiscuous, since that correlates with homosexuality). (There is other research which implicates multiple genes in homosexuality, as well as non-random X-chromosome inactivation in mothers. Although the genetic causes of homosexuality are probably many, it will not alter the overall conclusions of this blog post.)
Many r-selected species see the sex-specific behavioral tendencies and sexual dimorphism reverse from what is seen in K-selected species. In a K-selected species, males are responsible for provisioning and protection, and so they grow large, aggressive, courageous, and competitive. By contrast, females remain more feminine and conflict averse – they are designed to attract males with their femininity, and nurture children in security by removing them from the dangers which the male confronts for the family.
In many r-selected species, however, females must raise their offspring alone, so they become aggressive, competitive, and more “manly” (by K-selected standards), to provide for and protect their single parented offspring better. Obviously the best example in humans is the modern day man-jawed, flannel-wearing feminazi. Meanwhile in r-selection, the promiscuous males become more feminine (likely to help them avoid conflict with other males), more diminutive, more focused on superficial flash that is designed to attract mates quickly, and less competitive and courageous. They become more feminine, by our K-selected standards.
From the abstract of the study on homosexual genes:
“Our analysis showed that both mothers and maternal aunts of homosexual men show increased fecundity compared with corresponding maternal female relatives of heterosexual men. A two-step statistical analysis, which was based on t-tests and multiple logistic regression analysis, showed that mothers and maternal aunts of homosexual men (i) had fewer gynecological disorders; (ii) had fewer complicated pregnancies; (iii) had less interest in having children; (iv) placed less emphasis on romantic love within couples; (v) placed less importance on their social life; (vi) showed reduced family stability; (vii) were more extraverted; and (viii) had divorced or separated from their spouses more frequently.”
So not only does this gene make male carriers more feminine, it also makes females more fecund, and less likely to end up in a monogamous relationship. Such female carriers will exhibit less desire to rear children, be less romantically attached to their partner, be less likely to have a stable family, and be more likely to divorce or separate. Promiscuous, feminized males, and females with low rearing drive and an aversion to monogamy. Where have we seen that before?
I have always been struck by the feminine nature of the modern Liberal male, who we maintain is merely an individual within our species who exhibits an r-type reproductive strategy. Both Liberal men and women rely more on navigating social structures than on open conflict and competition to get ahead. Liberal men seek to be protected from competition by others through government, just as most women seek the protection of men. Liberal men prefer that others should provide for them (and the populace) through governmental largesse, while women seek out men who can provide for them. While the studies haven’t been done for obvious reasons, I suspect one would find the average Liberal male is vastly inferior in physical combative ability compared to the average Conservative male. And then of course, there is always Gavin Newsom.
It is established that in Kluver-Bucy syndrome, the deficient function of the amygdala which characterizes the syndrome does produce hypersexuality, including compulsively mating with inappropriate partners and objects. Of course one facet of the Liberal brain is a diminished development of the amygdala. If amygdala structural variation underlies ideology and sexual behavior, is it possible that atypical amygdala development might be implicated in homosexuality in a similar way?
Yes, as a matter of fact it is. Homosexual men and women exhibit less neurological connectivity within the right amygdalae hemisphere than do heterosexual men when examined via PET scan, while Liberals exhibit relatively smaller right amygdala hemispheres than Conservatives, when examined via MRI. By contrast, the same studies show that Heterosexual men and Lesbians exhibit increased connectivity in the right hemisphere of the amygdala, while Conservatives exhibit increased volume in the right amygdala. (The right hemisphere of the amygdala is believed to deal with negative stimuli, such as threat and fear more, while the Left hemisphere is more involved in reward/pleasure, in addition to threat/fear. To paraphrase the title of a study which discusses this cognitive difference in ideologies, Conservative K-types confront the bad, while Liberal r-types roll with the good.)
A quote from the Homosexual brain structure study:
Homosexual subjects also showed sex-atypical amygdala connections. In (Homosexual Males), as in (Heterosexual Women), the connections were more widespread from the left amygdala; in (Homosexual Women) and (Heterosexual Males), on the other hand, from the right amygdala … The results cannot be primarily ascribed to learned effects, and they suggest a linkage to neurobiological entities.
Also noted in the study:
The choice to measure amygdala connectivity was based on several reports about sex differentiated amygdala lateralization in processing of emotional memories (with an activation of the right amygdala in men, and the left amygdala in women) (19, 20). (see the article for the references)
“The researchers also looked at the amygdala, a part of the brain that’s associated with emotions, and found that straight women and gay men both have more connections between the amygdala and brain regions associated with anxiety and mood disorders. Meanwhile, the amygdala of lesbians and straight men had more connections to the region that controls fight or flight reactions”
Please think back to my blog series on debating tactics and the amygdala hijack, and see if the above paragraph might describe a mechanism by which Liberals might be more prone to anxiety and mood disruption during casual debate.
We found that … greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala. These results were replicated in an independent sample of additional participants. Our findings extend previous observations that political attitudes reflect differences in self-regulatory conflict monitoring … by showing that such attitudes are reflected in human brain structure.
Of course if r/K sex-specific behavioral tendencies held, K-type (feminine) women and Liberals would all be expected to exhibit the more conflict-averse/feminized model of behavior, while men and r-type women would be expected to exhibit a more aggressive, provisioner/protector model of behavior. Some have proposed that there are sex-specific variations in homosexual participation in sports (where homosexual men seem to avoid aggressive sports, while homosexual women appear to be over represented in such aggressive sports). Numerous studies also note that male homosexuals tend to exhibit much less aggression than male heterosexuals.
Is homosexuality just an extreme r-type development of the amygdala? Normally designed to affect aggression and embrace of conflict, it is occaisionally expressed so severely that it then bleeds over into sexual desires. Could Homosexuality actually be a case of mother nature overshooting the r-type Liberal mark, and shifting the neurological foundations of r/K sex-specific behaviors too far?
In moderate amounts, this r-trait just produces a cowardly and effete man, obsessed with superficial style/flash, who avoids aggression/competing, and as Heartiste pointed out here, exhibits exactly the type of less desirous/more aloof attitude r-type women crave in their short term relationships. In large amounts, it goes overboard and turns a Barack Obama into a Barney Frank, but the advantages of all the moderately-feminized male r-strategists outweighs the periodic genetic dead end. (The Heartiste post linked above was quite interesting for another study it cited showing that in twins with only one heterosexual sibling, that sibling was more promiscuous than average.)
Homosexuality could also be adaptive, since an r-type individual, trying to persist in a K-selective environment would be well served to defer competing for a mate until a more r-selective period began. By creating a male with diminished desire and desperation for a female mate, this would both diminish the r-type’s drive towards mate competition in K-selective periods, and then increase female attraction as the female cohort became more r-minded during more r-selective periods. Of course if this hypothesis is correct, it would also explain why homosexuals tend to support Liberals more than Conservatives.
What will be interesting will be to see the Liberal’s reaction to this hypothesis. Will they be aghast and deny the evidence, and thereby betray underlying negative feelings and perceptions, of a discriminatory nature, about homosexuals and homosexuality? Are Liberals so Homophobic that they will deny what the scientific evidence so clearly indicates? Or will they adopt a genuinely non-judgmental, tolerant position, embracing of their homosexual brethren, and the common evolutionary history and psychological inclinations they share?
Only time will tell.