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Religious celibacy brings inclusive fitness benefits

Micheletti, Alberto JC; Ge, Erhao; Zhou, Liqiong; Chen, Yuan; Zhang, Hanzhi; Du, Juan; Mace, Ruth; (2022) Religious celibacy brings inclusive fitness benefits. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 289 (1977) , Article 20220965. 10.1098/rspb.2022.0965. Green open access

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The influence of inclusive fitness interests on the evolution of human institutions remains unclear. Religious celibacy constitutes an especially puzzling institution, often deemed maladaptive. Here, we present sociodemographic data from an agropastoralist Buddhist population in western China, where parents sometimes sent a son to the monastery. We find that men with a monk brother father more children, and grandparents with a monk son have more grandchildren, suggesting that the practice is adaptive. We develop a model of celibacy to elucidate the inclusive fitness costs and benefits associated with this behaviour. We show that a minority of sons being celibate can be favoured if this increases their brothers' reproductive success, but only if the decision is under parental, rather than individual, control. These conditions apply to monks in our study site. Inclusive fitness considerations appear to play a key role in shaping parental preferences to adopt this cultural practice.

Type: Article
Title: Religious celibacy brings inclusive fitness benefits
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0965
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2022.0965
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: celibacy, cultural behaviours, inclusive fitness, institutions, parent–offspring conflict, sibling competition, Child, China, Family, Genetic Fitness, Humans, Male, Reproduction, Sexual Abstinence, Siblings
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10151041
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