Do Men Hurt More?

Added Oct ’13: Warning: The topics of this post are disturbing to many.

I wrote:

Biologically, cuckoldry is a bigger reproductive harm than rape, so we should expect a similar intensity of inherited emotions about it.  If 2+% of women were raped and we had a reliable cheap way to identify the guilty party, don’t you think we’d require that?

Many were offended at my suggesting cuckolding hurts a man remotely as much as rape hurts a woman.  Reasons I heard:

  • what the cuckold doesn’t know can’t hurt him
  • lots of men don’t mind raising genetically unrelated kids
  • rape victims are more socially disapproved of
  • rape has direct physical effects, while cuckoldry does not
  • rape victims are more often diagnosed “post traumatic stress”
  • rape victims they know seem more expressively upset

Let’s consider these last two arguments.  We all know that women tend to be more expressive about their complaints – you can’t beat ‘em for wailing and gnashing of teeth.  But the fact that men act more stoic and complain less doesn’t mean they hurt less.  To economists, the relevant standard is willingness to pay, and by this standard new results suggest men hurt more from most harms:

What’s a marriage worth? To an Aussie male, about $32,000. That’s the lump sum Professor Paul Frijters says the man would need to receive out of the blue to make him as happy as his marriage will over his lifetime. An Aussie woman would need much less, about $16,000.  But when it comes to divorce, the Aussie male will be so devastated it would be as if he had lost $110,000. An Aussie woman would be less traumatised, feeling as if she had lost only $9000. …  The lifetime boost to happiness that flows from a birth – for the mother around $8700, for the father $32,600. …  The death of a spouse or child causes a woman $130,900 worth of grief. … It costs a man $627,300.

HT to Katja Grace.  I’d bet that male willingness to pay to avoid cuckoldry is not much less than female willingness to pay to avoid rape.

Added 10:30p: I’d prefer to be raped rather than cuckolded; any other men have a preference?

Added 6:30p: Here is data on men being more stoic.

Added 3Dec: Roissy did a poll of his male readers; over 3/4 prefer rape to cuckoldry.

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  • mattmc

    no way for me. why make it a man/woman thing anyway? which would you rather have not happen to you?

    To me, the guiding logic is as follows. A relationship is a free choice between A and B. Either A or B can break the relationship at some cost, but that is simply the nature of the arrangement. In rape, the raped party did not agree to any arrangement that allowed the other party to do them harm. It’s vastly worse in terms of harm done to one’s own freedom, whereas cuckoldry is someone else exercising their freedom.

    • Grant

      Matt, in cuckoldry, the cuckolded party did not agree to any arrangement that allowed the other party to do them harm. They were lied to, and the result is long-term theft via fraud.

      I find those harm statistics disturbing, but consistent with what I’ve observed between men and women. It makes sense for women to signal loyalty more than men, because loyalty is more highly valued by men than women. Unfortunately this signaling seems beneficial even if false. Still, I wonder what studies done of other countries would find?

    • retired phlebotomist

      Cuckold in this post is referring to having a dodo egg dropped in the man’s nest, not just the woman stepping out.

      Being responsible for raising a child certainly curtails one’s freedom. However, if Robin’s colleague Bryan Caplan is correct and having a child increases happiness, then surely society should subsidize skirt chasers.

  • http://FeministX.blogspot.com FeministX.blogspot.com

    Most societies have held that cuckoldry is at least as bad as rape. The punishment for an adulterous woman was often death, and the punishment for a rapist was also often death. But those were days when women were viewed as sexual property. To this day, rape would be viewed as some kind of minor physical assault if men did not feel it was an attempt by other men to sully their collective sexual property.

    Cuckoldry is akin to a contract violation. It doesn’t involve a physical assault or causing mortal fear. Male dominated societies also refused to empathize with the pain women feel when cheated on. There is a reproductive cost to women whose husbands cheat. The father may be tempted to leave the family for additional children he has with another woman. He might begin to distribute resources to the other woman and children with her which take away from resources he has for the first woman. Women become obviously hurt and jealous when a man desires other women This is probably not some random artifice of our current culture. They’ve always wanted faithful men, but they didn’t have the political clout to create much punishment for men who strayed. Now that we don’t view women as sexual property and men as stewards of that property, we view adultery as a crime that hurts both sexes.

    I don’t think happiness levels are an adequate indication of the gravity of a crime anyways. What woman would choose 130K over the life of her child anyways?

    • mrwiizrd

      To this day, rape would be viewed as some kind of minor physical assault if men did not feel it was an attempt by other men to sully their collective sexual property.

      What a ridiculous baseless assertion.

      Rape is a deplorable disgusting human rights violation, not an assault on “collective sexual property.”

      • magfrump

        Where does your idea of human rights come from? From an evolutionary standpoint, I mean.

      • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

        Have to back FX up on this one. The Old Testament says that the punishment for raping a virgin is being forced to marry her and pay a price to the parents – “you break it, you bought it”. Back then, rape was property damage.

      • http://wintershaven.net Jacob Wintersmith

        Really, I think society has made some moral progress since the days when the Old Testament was written. Or, at least, liberal western society has. Africa and the Middle East are another story.

      • Peter Twieg

        Jacob –

        Maybe, but you have to do more to justify this viewpoint than saying “rape makes me angrier than cuckoldry, therefore it must be a greater sin.”

      • http://www.thefaithheuristic.com Justin Martyr

        That’s not actually what the OT says. It uses a different Hebrew word for that case and NIV and a few other versions translate it as rape (see here). The correct reading is that the OT mandates a shotgun marriage if a couple simply has premarital sex. It mandates death in the case of rape.

      • John Maxwell IV

        That doesn’t mean that *modern* men would be cold enough to view rape as minor physical assault in the absence of sexual interest…

  • http://graehl.posterous.com Jonathan Graehl

    The happiness-in-dollars study you cite doesn’t directly measure willingness to pay. It ranks life events including monetary gains and losses according to changes in self-assessed happiness.

    Supposing that the self-reported happiness levels are honest, then it does seem fair to say that the post-event self would rationally exchange the event for an equivalent monetary loss or gain. However, the pre-event self may have different preferences; the aftermath is what’s measured.

  • Zack M. Davis

    “I’d bet that male willingness to pay to avoid cuckoldry is not much less than female willingness to pay to avoid rape.”

    Odds?

    • http://brucenstein.livejournal.com/ Bruce N. Stein

      Yeah, no joke – I just can’t believe it.

      Not to mention that using a cost analysis like that is likely a very poor indicator of, well, anything. Dunno what sort of wage disparity exists in Australia, if any, but here in the US we constantly get “women make $0.78 for every dollar a man makes” shoved down our throat (whether intellectually honest or not). Regardless, if there is a disparity, how does one account for that? If a man makes 25% more, on average, than women, then obviously his “prices” will be inflated.

      I wonder how much men would pay to prevent cuckoldry, and how much they would pay to prevent rape (to themselves)?

      • magfrump

        Considering “wage inflation” the mens’ prices were still 200% to 1000% of the womens’. Unless men are willing to spend money ten times as readily as women, there’s something there.

    • magfrump

      How would you measure it? Anyone would almost certainly be more vocal about willingness to pay for rape avoidance than cuckoldry avoidance.

      I would say males are willing to pay for cuckoldry avoidance at least 85% of what females are willing to pay for rape avoidance at 60% confidence level (that is, 1:1.5 odds); and if you’ve got an agreeable measurement method I’ll take the bet.

    • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

      It seems really hard to create an “all else being equal” test of this.

      In modern society the consequences of rape are more easily avoided than the consequences of cuckoldry – a morning-after pill or if necessary abortion takes care of the former; in the latter case, even a paternity test may not save the husband. On the other hand, another possible consequence of rape is venereal disease up to and including AIDS – though this is also a possible consequence of cuckoldry.

      Suppose we found that husbands were willing to pay more to prevent their wives from being raped, than the wives themselves were willing to pay to prevent being raped. Does this prove the original point, or does it merely show the strength of their love?

      • Nick Tarleton

        In modern society the consequences of rape are more easily avoided than the consequences of cuckoldry – a morning-after pill or if necessary abortion takes care of the former; in the latter case, even a paternity test may not save the husband

        Material consequences, yes.

      • Jordan

        I would guess that it’s much more likely for a cuckolded man to get an STD from his wife than a rape victim from the rapist.

        In order for the wife to get pregnant it’s likely she had multiple sexual encounters with a man other than her husband, thus increasing her chances of getting an STD beyond that of a single encounter. Then, because she’s still with her husband, she’ll likely be having repeated intercourse with him, essentially guaranteeing that whatever diseases she has acquired are passed on.

        On the other hand, it’s probably more likely for a rapist to have a seedy sexual history, heightening the chance they have an STD. Also, rape can be much more violent, leading to open wounds which are known to increase transmission rates of certain diseases.

      • gwern

        > Also, rape can be much more violent, leading to open wounds which are known to increase transmission rates of certain diseases.

        From reading articles about African wars, I understand rape can be much more violent than simply open wounds encouraging infection – sterility and death are live possibilities.

      • Kiefer

        My god. What a mind-boggling reply. I thought of you better.

  • Matt

    Cuckoldry is harm to your freedom because it uses coercion to force you to support a child that is not related to you. If you are legally seen as the biological father you are required to support the child whether you want to or not. That is harm. This is more than simply someone else exercising their own freedom.

    Aside from that I’m not sure rape is comparable to cuckoldry since it involves violence, which cuckoldry does not (unless you count police enforcement of fatherhood contract as violence). The only similarity is that it involves unwanted children. The father doesn’t want to raise a child that is not his (and we’ve seen this from men choosing to cut ties to kids they find out aren’t theirs) and a woman impregnated by rape does not want to raise a kid forced upon her. Cuckoldry as described in this post seems to be in the form of reproductive trickery. She wants Tom’s money but Fred’s genes for her offspring. It reminds me of those birds that lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and push their eggs out. I’m not convinced that rape is a form of reproductive trickery. There may be evidence out there to the contrary but my assumption is that the rapist is unconcerned whether his action conceives or not. This seems like a key difference that makes these actions unrelated.

  • Matt

    Also, do those numbers account for men making more than women?

  • http://spivonomy.blogspot.com/ Sam Wilson

    Is that third bullet point correct? Are rape victims more socially disapproved of? I imagine that cuckolds are laughingstocks and rape victims are to be pitied.

    • Nick Tarleton

      I don’t think cuckolds or rape victims are coherently anything by “society”, but on net I suspect you’re right.

      • Nick Tarleton

        on net I suspect you’re right.

        On second thought, I have no confident opinion.

  • http://wintershaven.net Jacob Wintersmith

    To say that “Men Hurt More” is one sensible interpretation of Frijters’s data, but it’s not the only one. The data compares the hedonic effects of cash payments to various life events. Maybe women value money and material goods much more highly than men.

    • http://denisbider.blogspot.com/ denis bider

      Which is saying the same thing after normalizing.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    Zack, at least 50-50.

    Matt, these ratios are larger than income ratios.

    Sam, it doesn’t sound right to me.

    • http://lesswrong.com/ CannibalSmith

      Come on, use the reply feature.

      • http://denisbider.blogspot.com/ denis bider

        He can’t, or he’ll have to violate his own rule about no more than 2 comments by the same author in the list of recent comments.

  • blink

    If men are willing to pay so much to avoid cuckoldry, we’re back to the mystery of why they refuse to seek blood tests in hospitals. Can the relationship costs of simply asking for a test really be so great?

    • Chris

      The expected relationship costs can be large. Asking for a test, in my opinion, has a large probability of destroying the relationship in addition to lowering the status of the man. (“What kind of rotten bastard asks his wife for a paternity test?”) Additionally, the probability of cuckoldry is fairly low.

      Ask yourself this — would you destroy a long term relationship in order receive a cancer screening (and thereby eliminating a small risk of death)?

    • magfrump

      If men are desperate to avoid ALL loss, they will avoid confrontation as well as tests of cuckoldry.

  • John

    It’s possible that cuckolding hurts men as much as rape hurts women, but that the reasons have little to do with “evolutionary harm” in the sense of having to care for a child whose genetics you didn’t contribute to, or contributed less to than you’d prefer.

    Would you predict that the emotional response of an anally raped woman be less severe than the emotional response of a vaginally raped woman? What about oral rape? If not, doesn’t that suggest that the possibility of getting pregnant and caring for an unwanted child is NOT the driving force behind their responses to rape?

    • magfrump

      I would predict that the emotional response of a raped woman who became pregnant would be much higher, and the emotional response of a man who has raised a child not his would be higher than one from a man whose wife slept around.

      Our signals for “sex” may have gotten estranged in the direction of showing that we are supportive mates, but if there are children involved the emotions are far greater and last over years and years.

    • Peter Twieg

      Would you predict that the emotional response of an anally raped woman be less severe than the emotional response of a vaginally raped woman? What about oral rape?

      No, but this can be explained by saying that these responses are exaptations. Do you think the emotional response of women would be equally severe if it were the case that rape could not result in pregnancy, for whatever reasons?

    • Nick Tarleton

      Would you predict that the emotional response of an anally raped woman be less severe than the emotional response of a vaginally raped woman? What about oral rape? If not, doesn’t that suggest that the possibility of getting pregnant and caring for an unwanted child is NOT the driving force behind their responses to rape?

      Not strongly. See Protein Reinforcement and DNA Consequentialism; individual minds don’t carry out the ‘reasoning’ behind an evolutionary adaptation. And evolution doesn’t make all the fine distinctions that it could, or produce most adaptations that it could… which is why the EP argument for cuckolding to be as hurtful as rape is weak, too.

  • http://freudenschade.wordpress.com drcripptic

    without numbers on payment for rape avoidance, this discussion is idle speculation.

    moreover, systematic differences between men and women’s emotional vulnerability suggest comparison is meaningless (in much the same way as stoicness is meaningless, you’ve learned something about gender, not happiness). i think it would be better to normalise to, say, death of a child i each case, and then learn something about relative differences.

    i’ve had some experience dealing with rape victims and i’d happily take the bet that women have a greater desire to avoid rape than men to avoid cuckolding. definitely if normalised as suggested in previous paragraph.

    • gwern

      > without numbers on payment for rape avoidance, this discussion is idle speculation.

      Here’s a starting point: the size of the martial arts/self-defense industry that caters to women. The overwhelming reason, when you ask such women carefully and cut through the rhetoric about exercise & fun, is that they fear abuse and sexual abuse such as rape in particular.

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  • http://adequatelyreserved.wordpress.com bcg

    We do pity rape victims, but there is also shame attached to it, in the same way we pity the homeless and yet to be homeless is shameful.

    • 2999

      There is still more shame attached to being cuckolded. It’s a huge blow to status.

      • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

        Is that actually true? I have trouble imagining hearing someone say, “I just found out that Diana is not my daughter… and having thought about it, I’ve decided that -” and having them lose any sort of status in my sight from anything that came before the hyphen. The woman would certainly lose a lot of status in my sight (dishonesty) but, scanning my feelings, I really don’t see losing any respect for the man (at least for what came before the hyphen).

        Of course I’m not a typical mind. And probably most of us on this blog aren’t typical minds. But how much do we actually know about this alleged loss of social status? Is there some way it can be shown to an outsider like myself?

      • http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com Thursday

        Some qualities of respect are moralized, others are not. No one would lose any respect for a cuckold on a moral level, but most people would still lose some respect for him on a non-moral level.

      • Mat

        While I agree with you that I don’t think less of a man who has been cuckolded, historically it has been considered shameful.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Order-cuckoldry-ca1815-French-satire.jpg
        This picture shows cuckolded men growing horns. In fact, I once heard that it is where the whole make-devil-horns-on-your-classmate thing in photographs came from.

      • Joe

        “status in my sight” — okay, but do you really find it hard to imagine, or even empathize with, a tendency of other people to reduce his status in their sight?

        Try this: can you imagine a man feeling *shame* at being cuckolded, or at his wife being unfaithful? Is there not generally a connection between shame and status?
        Or: being cuckolded is a dramatic display of disrespect. People who get less respect get less status.
        Or: being cuckolded falls into the extremely general category of: “I wanted X to happen, but X did not happen. I lose.” Losers lose status along with whatever else they lose. Of course this depends a bit on how much control they are perceived to have over X. In the case of cuckoldry this is obviously “not total, but far from zero”.

        Any help at all?

      • komponisto

        The unconscious reasoning is: If a man has been cuckolded, that he must not be capable of sexually satisfying his partner.

        It’s hard to imagine a greater status blow than that.

  • A dude

    This is an inherently unquantifiable apples-oranges comparison. What’s more, this whole analysis on cuckoldry deals with a very complex issue of trust (signals), committment (time component of physical cost), and emotional cost with 5-year-old’s sophistication.

    • Peter Twieg

      Apples and oranges can be compared if they both have a price. Likewise, rape and cuckoldry can be compared if they both have a price of avoidance. One could argue that the methods of elicitation of the price are flawed, but the underlying idea is stronger than you’re giving it credit for.

  • Anonymous

    The referenced paper can be freely downloaded here.
    I couldn’t find any gender-specific figures inside, could anyone help?

  • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

    One possible currency for comparison would be genetic fitness. Some stats might help mike such a comparison. I think the stats say that rape is more common than cuckolding, but am uncertain on the effect of rape on fitness.

  • S

    Wow, so disappointing.
    The right to bodily integrity being compared to the right not to be robbed of money is seriously being discussed as being in some way similar? Really?
    The fact that the particular case of theft here has something to do with a woman having had sex with someone besides her partner seems to be the connection everyone is apparently drooling over, but is completely incidental to the question of whether the state should ex-post sanction a form of fraud, if you will.

    There are a million things one could compare that problem to that immediately come to mind. All of which, natch, having everything to do with financial loss and nothing at all to do with the dehumanizing violation of someone’s body.
    The fact that a man being wronged by a woman is immediately connected to raping a woman is not incidental, rape has long been and still is handed out as a form of punishment for the woman not behaving according to whatever the rapist sees as the ‘proper’ way for her to have behaved.
    Which frankly puts this whole “edgy intellectual” discussion on a very disturbing level. The abject human detachment with which it is being discussed here is actually not just a little horrifying.

    I read this blog somewhat regularly, and I am incredibly disappointed that Hanson would stoop so low as to attribute any difference in perceived harm between rape and financial loss to women being “whinier”. WTF.

    • Nick Tarleton

      There are a million things one could compare that problem to that immediately come to mind. All of which, natch, having everything to do with financial loss and nothing at all to do with the dehumanizing violation of someone’s body.

      People sometimes do feel violated by simple fraud, so it’s pretty plausible to me that men can feel violated by cuckolding; not necessarily as severe as rape, but qualitatively in the same direction.

      The fact that a man being wronged by a woman is immediately connected to raping a woman is not incidental, rape has long been and still is handed out as a form of punishment for the woman not behaving according to whatever the rapist sees as the ‘proper’ way for her to have behaved.

      Having psychology analogous to a rapist’s sounds like a strong accusation, even if it’s not intended as such. How confident are you?

    • Peter Twieg

      The right to bodily integrity being compared to the right not to be robbed of money is seriously being discussed as being in some way similar? Really?

      Why not? Are you saying the types of harms are completely incommensurate? That one is lexically worse than the other? If not, how does pointing out this distinction matter?

      I am incredibly disappointed that Hanson would stoop so low as to attribute any difference in perceived harm between rape and financial loss to women being “whinier”

      It’s pretty sketchy to put a word in quotes like that when the person you’re responding to didn’t actually use it.

      • http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com Thursday

        One’s time is as valuable as one’s body.

    • Roman Davis

      I’ve been struck (temporarily) blind, knocked to the floor , and punched repeatedly in the face. I would way rather this happen again than lose even 300 dollars.

      I don’t know exactly where the amount of male bodily harm I would have to suffer comes to be something as bad as rape, but my rough typical mind fallacy estimate is having a leg broken, which I would rather have happen than be cuckolded. There are, in fact large lists of bad things I can say with very high confidence that I would rather have happen to me than be cuckolded.

      It is a betrayal which people take seriously. And this whole “How dare you” shtick bugs me. We can compare the values of dust specks in the eye to decades of brutal torture, and our ability to do so doesn’t make us bad people.

  • rob

    Note that the net expectation is that an Aussie male is likely to end up very unhappy.

  • Lynsey

    Wow, I’m on board now that you’ve quoted some inane load of crap equating emotions to money that suggests that men take bereavement nearly six times harder than women, for some reason.

    • Grant

      The figures do seem hard to believe. While my own experiences would lead me to suspect that relationships are worth less to women than men (and I believe other studies have shown this as well, as the author mentions), not 12 times less! And children are worth less a well? That seems odd and is the opposite of what I’d expect.

      While this kind of analysis is very interesting, something in these particular figures smells of BS to me.

      • http://wintershaven.net Jacob Wintersmith

        The study measures hedonic impact. Women may indeed value children more than men, but even if they do, it’s not that surprising that children don’t improve their happiness as much. After all, women tend to get saddled with more of the diaper-changing drudgery of raising children than men do.

  • sabril

    I’m something of a male chauvinist / mens’ rights kinda guy, but I have to say I think rape is more psychologically painful simply because you are being violated in a very intimate, personal way.

    I think a better analogy to cuckoldry is lying to a woman to get sex from her; impregnating her; and then abandoning her and the resulting child.

    • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

      The latter seems like a useful analogy but what use are you making of it, exactly? As I read it, you’re saying that instead of comparing rape to cuckoldry, we should try to compare the above abandonment scenario to cuckoldry. If so, that makes a lot of sense.

      • sabril

        Basically yes. A scummy woman will try to trick a guy into supporting her child without actually impregnating her. A scummy man will try to trick a woman into letting him impregnate her without actually supporting the child. So arguably the two situations are analogous and the vehicle for the scam is fraud.

  • Brennan

    Maybe women just like money a lot more.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    I just added to the post.

    • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

      Well, yes, but from an evolutionary perspective that is so far from being analogous that words fail me.

      • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

        Some thought my theoretical evolutionary analysis too speculative, so I thought I’d supplement with concrete feeling data such as I have available.

    • Ryan Langrill

      I think the rape vs cuckoldry dichotomy is a poor one. Cuckoldry in and of itself involves someone you probably trust with your life betraying you. Rape can be that, but it can also be anything from someone drugging your drink to being raped by someone close to you.

      So the choice really should be: would you rather be cuckolded, or would you rather be raped by your (father/brother/mother/husband/wife/ someone you trust with your life). Otherwise the two really aren’t comparable.

  • MPS

    I’d prefer to be cuckolded than raped.

    Also I think comparing willingness to pay in terms of absolute sums is wrong. Men tend to earn more than women, so they should be willing to pay more for the same amount of personal satisfaction.

  • thinker

    “To economists, the relevant standard is willingness to pay, and by this standard new results suggest men hurt more from most harms”
    This only proves men are much more inclined and able to connect their percieved emotive state to dollars. Many times when I try to talk to women about what different emotions and events are worth in dollars they just end up saying that men are dolts for trying to make that connection.

    A potentially more enlightening question for men might be: Would you rather raise a child without 100% certainty it’s yours, or be brutally raped yourself (eg by a big bad dude) in the worst way imaginable?

    Also, for the male economists out there: How much would you pay to prevent each of these scenarios from occurring?

    • Peter Twieg

      This only proves men are much more inclined and able to connect their percieved emotive state to dollars.

      But given that the females in the survey presumably elicit a dollar response, this assertion is simply incorrect. Perhaps you mean to argue that women are inclined to lowball their estimates in contingent valuation surveys, but this is quite a different assertion and presumably you should be able to back it up with data.

      Would you rather raise a child without 100% certainty it’s yours, or be brutally raped yourself (eg by a big bad dude) in the worst way imaginable?

      I don’t think anyone here is going to argue that the slightest bit of uncertainty (which will always exist) is worse than any form of rape.

      • thinker

        Perhaps you mean to argue that women are inclined to lowball their estimates in contingent valuation surveys

        No. What alluded to, is that women tend to shy away from these sort of valuations as they seem to have more intuitive sense around the silliness of them. I have many doubts about the results of the study as better articulated by this person this person: http://www.scientificblogging.com/science_paradise/economizing_happiness_whats_it_worth_you

        “These data are just anectdotal, however – they have yet to be published in any peer-reviewed paper.”

        “It seems shoddy at best that this information is being circulated as truth without any means for someone to take a look at the hard numbers. And trust me, I looked. No one can cite one reference to the “study” this sex-separated data is in, except for one site which said the data was merely presented to some people at some university. Call me a scientist, but I want to see the results myself, published in a peer-reviewed journal.”

        I hate to say it but I will, after last week’s climate scientist fiasco, it’s going to take some work to get some level of overall trust back with the scientific community. This study as published falls fairly low on the relative truth scale.

      • Peter Twieg

        is that women tend to shy away from these sort of valuations as they seem to have more intuitive sense around the silliness of them.

        More intuitive sense? So the people who do put valuations on these events are naive, or lying? In general, people simply can’t be compensated for these sorts of harms, to the point where they’d subjectively consider themselves better off? That’s what intuitive sense dictates, even though financial reparation is one of the cornerstones of our civil justice system?

      • thinker

        More intuitive sense? So the people who do put valuations on these events are naive, or lying?

        Naive, having bought the value on everything bit and the “this scientific study will finally nail the whole money/love/happiness problem that has been eluding us for ages” belief.

        In general, people simply can’t be compensated for these sorts of harms, to the point where they’d subjectively consider themselves better off? That’s what intuitive sense dictates, even though financial reparation is one of the cornerstones of our civil justice system?

        Why are so many people disagreeing with the results of the study then? And not making any believable sense of them, while others (who appear very smart otherwise) are saying “there you go, proof that men value marriage and babies more so therefore cuckolding is worse than rape” based on a sketchy study. Which bias is driving that behavior? The problem is that the study is hardly even a starting point for compensatory justice.

      • Peter Twieg

        If you want to criticize the methodology of contingent valuation as a constructive attempt to improve its fidelity, that’s fine. But it looks to me more like you’re criticizing the notion itself as not just hopeless, but fundamentally misguided… which is a much stronger argument. It’s one thing to say that the particular study Robin is using is flawed (it may very well be the case), it’s another thing to say that any study that attempts to operationalize the harms of various acts will be useless.

      • thinker

        It’s one thing to say that the particular study Robin is using is flawed (it may very well be the case), it’s another thing to say that any study that attempts to operationalize the harms of various acts will be useless.

        I guess I’m saying both, but in the same sentence: Any study (includind the one referenced) that attempts to put a different value on love/marriage/parenthood/happiness between men and women and then used to “operationalize the harms” will be useless on a consensual/just basis.

        It must be the 10,000+ years of mis-treatment that women have received that they generally do not (intuitively) trust (the male dominated scientific/legal/governing community) assigning dollar values to emotive losses for some alterior purpose. This study confirms evidence for their mistrust in spades.

        Thanks for the discussion Peter. I think many of us are learning as we go here!

  • Eric Johnson

    > marriage ~= $16,000

    Hmm. The more complex and creative an example of happiness research is, the more I suspect that happiness research’s weaknesses may distort the truth. By weaknesses I mainly mean that happiness may not always equal stated happiness, in part because different conditions may differently arouse a drive to announce happiness.

    > I’d rather be raped

    Well, that is definitely valid information on the “free mind”, “psycho-symbolic” salience that being raped would have for you.

    But as you surely agree, there is a strong chance that much or most of the salience of being raped, for women, comes not from what I call the “free mind” unique to humans, but from the evolved, fitness-enhancing mental traits that are congenitally hardwired and are not always what they seem (“I dont love him anymore because he stopped understanding me” rather than “because he started acting weak”). And this evolved reaction doesnt have to be the same in men as it is in women, and you of course arent a woman.

    Similarly, if we hear from women about how much or how little they care about being cuckolded — they may not be programmed (in the unfree mind) to care about it as much as an average man is.

  • Eric Johnson

    > if we hear from women about how much or how little they care about being cuckolded

    Well, *would* care.

  • Eric Johnson

    > Well, that is definitely valid information on the “free mind”, “psycho-symbolic” salience that being raped would have for you.

    Whoops, I got this wrong. It is valid information on the *total* salience for you. But my point is that while the “free mind” salience for you would probably be similar to the free mind salience for women, men and women might differ a lot more in the unfree salience, and hence in the total salience.

  • http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com Thursday

    For the record, I would prefer to be raped than cuckolded. I believe Roissy has expressed similar sentiments.

  • thinker

    I’m thinking this whole thread also speaks to the violence (protecting what is mine all mine, esp genes) that perpetuates throughout our culture. The Anuta solved this long ago: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7525252.stm

    Also losing even more faith in the economic “profession”, eg not being able to predict the crash, and then not understanding some fundamental differences at play between men and women, but just putting dollar signs on everything.. sheesh!

  • Matt

    Whether I’d rather be raped than cuckolded depends on how long it takes me to figure out I’d been cuckolded, how much money and time have I put with this kid, what’s the cost is to cut and run, how likely I can find a new, more trustworthy wife to have a kid with.

    If being cuckolded has drained me financially and caused me to devote so much time to an unfaithful woman that I am unable to go back on the marriage market and have my own kid I think I’d rather be raped, otherwise I’d rather be cuckolded.

    • http://wintershaven.net Jacob Wintersmith

      I concur. Finding out shortly after birth would be bad, but only moderately worse than sexual infidelity which did not produce a child. I would rather be raped than be cuckolded for a decade.

    • http://www.nancybuttons.com Nancy Lebovitz

      If it took you a long time to find out that you’d been cuckolded, would the effect on your relationship with the child be important to you?

      • Matt

        I doubt I would immediately stop loving the child. However I still attach greater worth to my genetic offspring. I would want to reserve the resources of child support for the chances of me finding someone else to have genetic offspring with (even though I think the chances would be low at that point). I doubt the kid’s mom would allow me to have any sort of relationship with him if I’m not paying child support so that decision would probably ruin my relationship with the child. It would be an emotionally hard thing to do for both me and the kid. A decreased likelihood of having my own child is why I mentioned I’d rather be raped in the previous comment but being in a situation where my best decision is leaving a kid I’m emotionally invested in is another reason I’d rather be raped.

  • rob

    My critique as that the numbers don’t pass the smell test. Assume a 50% divorce rate. Right there, it isn’t rational for an Aussie male to marry. Add in the other morbid possibilities and it only gets worse. Is family life a net negative for the average Aussie male? I have trouble believing this. They seem like such carefree, crazy people.

    • scott

      Not necessarily. Gain 32,000 from marriage with pr(~1), gain 1.8 x 32,600 from children in marriage with pr(0.5) (average children per woman in Australia, 51% of married couples have kids), minus divorce’s 110,000 with pr(.4), comes out positive, at about 15,000.

      Men can have kids out of marriage, sure, but social mores, cultural expectations, and loyalty/cuckodry concerns provide enough incentive to marry for kids.

      divorce rate: http://www.divorcerate.org/divorce-rates-in-australia.html
      child rate: wikipedia
      kids in marriage rate: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/laca/Famserv/chap2.pdf

  • Niklas

    I wonder if the fact that you would rather be raped than cuckolded is at all influenced by the fact that in aggregate, there is a much greater probability of adult males getting cuckolded than raped (or, rather, “sexually abused”)…

  • Zack M. Davis

    I would rather be cuckolded than raped, and I don’t seem to understand the psychology of men who would prefer being raped. I mean, I understand that we have a priori evopsych reasons for expecting that men would fear cuckoldry, but I honestly don’t know how to empathize. I understand wanting your children to have particular phenotypic traits, but that’s not the same as wanting your children to have your genes specifically. So is it just a gut emotional reaction that you can’t or don’t want to disavow, or do you guys literally care about allele frequencies?

    • Grant

      I think I’d rather be raped. While I obviously have no direct, evolved emotion regarding the DNA of my child, being discovering I’d been cuckolded would make it seem like I’d wasted years of my life and my entire marriage (which would be ruined). I wouldn’t be able to look at the kid without thinking about the mother, though I don’t think my affection would change much.

  • http://dudley-doright.livejournal.com Mike Blume

    Everybody seems to be obsessing about children. I don’t give a damn whose genes go where.

    I would rather be raped one night by a stranger than learn that someone I loved and trusted had been unfaithful to me.

    • Patri Friedman

      I don’t give a damn whose genes go where.

      Excellent! When you are ready to have kids, let me know – I’ll buy you some condoms and bring over a turkey baster of my seed.

    • Bob

      This is the best post in this thread. I don’t trust strangers, I did trust my Cathy.

  • http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com Hopefully Anonymous

    Prof. Hanson, do you feel that with posts like this you veer from creating better predictive models to innovating myths, postures, and identities for a human subpopulation (in this case men)?

  • http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com Hopefully Anonymous

    Since psychologically this probably all involves third party effects (attractive females discovering you’ve been raped or cuckolded), I think you should pick cuckolded. Being raped signals a lack of strength, status, and wit among males and that you’re probably less sexually dimorphic.

    Although being cuckolded also signals at least a lack of wit among males, raising the kid signals unsual parental resource sharing which may raise your attractiveness to third party attractive females.

    I recall linking to an article claiming cuckolding sometimes occurs in nature for this reason.

  • Noumenon

    I found your preference kind of shocking. I presume the difference between our thinking goes like this.

    Me: (imagines being raped) Man, that would be a terrible experience and it would leave me shaken much worse than that time I was robbed at gunpoint. I would be having flashbacks for years. Cuckolding’s not immediate at all, who’s traumatized by that?

    You: (imagine every time you look at your kid or spouse seeing the lie you lived) That would invalidate years’ worth of my self-concept, how painful!

    Is that at all close to why you would care? Note that I don’t even have any kids, I’m a loving uncle to other people’s children, so cuckolding doesn’t even seem that bad to me.

    • Jordan

      I would rather be raped than cuckolded.

      You play off being cuckolded like it’s no big deal. Are you really imagining the scenario fully? You have a wife and child that you love, a life together you’ve been building for years, and suddenly you find out that this entire existence, potentially the very meaning of your life, was not only based on a lie but on your wife preferring another man in bed to you. I’ve gone through my psychological hardships in life, and consider myself pretty resilient, but I honestly don’t know if I could cope with this situation.

      I’m an uncle many times over and don’t feel like that has anything to do with the discussion. I love my nieces and nephews, but not in any way like I imagine I would love my own kids and wife.

  • Violet

    Based on the data provided it makes no sense for men to marry. Thus a better message would be “don’t marry”, rather than speculating on values of things not measured in the study.

    Also the comparison is quite senseless, “oranges cost more than apples, thus oranges taste better”.

    Trying to tie things to a monetary value does not make sense. Next “large scale tax evasion worse than murder”? The tone of the post sounds quite sexist and rape apologist, even if that is not your intention.

    Also in today’s society a large number of people do raise children from the other partner’s previous relationships. Do you also see this as problematic? Or are you simply implying “lying” == “physical assault”?

  • Gary

    You would rather be raped than cuckolded but you would be shy about getting a paternity test because it might send the wrong signal? You must not think much of getting raped or think asking for a paternity test is really, really embarrassing.

    • anon

      No. Men who request a paternity test pay a signaling cost whether the test reveals cuckoldry or not. Since the prior probability of actual cuckoldry is very low (though it’s not negligible–and it seems to be quite high in some subgroups), forgoing the test is rational.

  • thinker

    I’ll pose another question here (treading into the always tricky area of analagies):

    If you entered into a partnership with someone to dig a hole for a large sum of money for someone, and your partner gets frustrated with your ineptness at hole digging, secretly hires somebody who is a better hole digger than you are to help dig the hole while you are not around, the hole gets dug, you get your share of the money. You find out later about the secret “helper” and are now “sad” about your hurt feelings and want compensation?

    • Matt

      In this analogy you benefit from the other person’s work. It would be a more appropriate analogy if your partner was secretly giving parts of your share of the money to another person who’s not doing any digging.

  • http://www.nancybuttons.com Nancy Lebovitz

    For a lot of women, the fear of rape isn’t just measured in money. They take life-limiting precautions (like not walking alone after dark).

    I’d count those happiness/money surveys as pretty speculative.

    Robin, and anyone else who’d rather be raped than cuckolded– have you looked up the effects of being raped? Considered the risks of STDs?

  • thinker

    Re-thinking the get raped or get cuckolded question it really should be:

    Would you as a man, rather your loving wife & mother of your childern get savagely raped or you get cuckolded?

    • Linda Gottfredson’s Apprentice

      Some choice. I have to choose between having something bad (that I have no control over) happen to people I love or having my wife deceive me. I choose the excluded third possibility of neither.

      Frankly, the reason that women turn this into an emotional issue is that they don’t want options removed by society. In this case the option, should they make a mistake, to exchange sex for support with one man, but get better genes for their offspring from other men.

      In principle, I am not opposed to this either, but only for my daughters. My sons have been taught to demand DNA tests. Yes, I want the best of all worlds.

  • josh

    raped, I think.

  • Matt

    This is starting to remind me of those cart analogies in ethics.

  • http://www.thefaithheuristic.com Justin Martyr

    The biggest problem from using the happiness data is that (1) women do the bulk of the child-rearing, and (2) much of child-rearing is drudgery. The best research shows that having children actually makes women less happy. In that sense, if we equate changes in happiness to willingness to pay, that means women would pay money to have their children killed if they felt sure they could get away with it.

    Of course that is incorrect. What this does is show why you can’t use subjective well-being as a proxy for preferences or willingness to pay. It is also why Richard Carrier’s defense of atheistic morality based on happiness is wrong. People are motivated to perform acts in service of a cause larger than themselves even at a cost to their own personal happiness. Of course, I suspect that Robin would disagree: at some level the women have to be signaling status or group membership. But even given that assumption I think happiness is a poor proxy for preferences.

  • Eric Johnson

    Heres a really good theory, if I do say so myself, for why feelings about cuckoldry per se may not be all that severe.

    Since cuckoldry is not often detectable with near-certainty, and since cuckoldry requires sex, most of the man’s effort goes into sexual jealousy about his wife. Its an efficient and sufficient method of preventing cuckoldry. In just the same way, people dont have an overwhelming desire to have kids, on average — prior to birth control, an overwhelming desire for sex was efficient and sufficient for causing pregnancy and procreation.

    But, when sexual cheating is detected… searching for a new mate has high costs, the man may already have one or more kids with the woman, other individuals may try to forcefully prevent divorce, and there is the option to increase surveillance of the woman. Hence, it is not always optimal to divorce a woman who is caught cheating. Therefore, the rage and agony over infidelity is not all that high, and not as high as we might expect the rage over cuckoldry to be. As as for rage over cuckoldry in specific, over and above mere cheating — there is not much *evolved*, hardwired rage over cuckoldry in specific because it is rarely detected. The evolved rage is against infidelity and not cuckoldry itself.

    • anon

      This is a good reason why feelings about cuckoldry might have been mild in the ancestral environment. But hunters-gatherers and primitive agriculturalists would have had lots of children over a female’s reproductive span, many of which would not be expected to survive infancy. In such a situation, extra-pair births are to be expected; they act as an insurance policy for the female, by diversifying the genetic makeup of her descendents.

      The post-civilization world is vastly different: we have very few children and the amount of investment we put into each is far greater. Hence cuckoldry is a rarer occurrence and a much bigger deal whenever it does occur. And while we shouldn’t expect that the boundless, daemon sultan Azathoth would have given us strong emotions against cuckoldry, most people do prefer their children to be genetcally related to them.

      • Patri Friedman

        And while we shouldn’t expect that the boundless, daemon sultan Azathoth would have given us strong emotions against cuckoldry, most people do prefer their children to be genetcally related to them.

        This hinges on the question of whether our happiness is based on genetically-programmed instincts (ie emotions), which will fail to adjust when the environment changes, or on the actual benefit/harm (is it a “big deal”). And I think, unfortunately, most people react based on instincts. For example, condoms + the pill + paternity testing allow men & women to have extramarital affairs without any of the bad consequences that made evolution give us strong jealousy and monogamy instincts. Yet most people are still monogamous, rather than being polyamorous or swingers. Ruled by instincts, rather than the new environment.

      • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds
      • anon

        Yes, we are adaptation executors and not fitness maximizers. But contra Patri Friedman, we act both on direct instincts and as consequentialists who pursue outcomes they like and try to avoid outcomes they dislike. For most people, being lied to about whether they are biologically related to their child (“cuckolded”) ranks quite low on that scale.

      • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

        anon, granted. But cuckoldry rating low on that scale would seem to contradict your earlier comment saying that cuckoldry is a big deal.

    • Patri Friedman

      Since cuckoldry is not often detectable with near-certainty, and since cuckoldry requires sex, most of the man’s effort goes into sexual jealousy about his wife.

      Yes! I had vague thoughts along these lines but they hadn’t coalesced, thanks for articulating this. I totally agree.

    • http://rhollerith.com/ Richard Hollerith

      Eric Johnson nails it with his observation that sexual infidelity was a good proxy for cuckoldry in the EEA. And you do not have to do complicated “how much would you pay?” experiments to show that men have a strong natural human aversion to sexual infidelity. All you have to do is observe that in probably no situation (with the possible exception of a drastic reduction in social status and reputation in a man already low in social status and reputation) is a man more likely to kill or suicide than after discovering sexual infidelity.

      I agree with the consensus in Western societies that it is unethical and should be extremely illegal to kill for that reason, but the fact that men in Western societies still do even though it is extremely illegal is evidence that the male natural human aversion to sexual infidelity is as strong as the female natural human aversion to rape.

  • Psychohistorian

    “I’d bet that male willingness to pay to avoid cuckoldry is not much less than female willingness to pay to avoid rape.”

    Willingness-to-pay is [em]completely[/em] different from what that study you cite measures. That study measures, given two essentially similar men, one of who experiences event A, and one of who does not, how much money would we have to give to/take away from the latter to make him exactly as happy as the former? This is definitely not willingness to pay.

    I would bet a large amount (which is admittedly irrelevant, as I doubt this is testable) that the average raped woman would need to be paid more to make her like the average non-raped woman, as compared to the average cuckolded v. non cuckolded man, particularly when you consider that the median cuckolded man is likely unaware of his status.

    I also think, in general, people here have a tendency to conflate evolutionary and personal values. I doubt your typical citizen would view a non-related child whom he’s been raising for some time as a complete waste of money.

    And on that note, willingness to pay is a problematic metric here (and I plan to expand on this point on LW, because it’s interesting), since forward-looking and backwards-looking views will probably differ substantially. If the kid doesn’t exist yet, you could certainly see all of the considerable expense associated with raising the kid as wasted money, which would obviously raise your WTP. However, if it’s ten years later, you may well have grown attached to said kid, so you will not view your substantial investment in that kid as wasteful, however much you may dislike their mother.

  • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

    To all these people saying that it’s impossible to compare rape to cuckoldry based on monetary value: are you saying that the disutility of the two events are truly incommensurate? That there’s no way to compare them? Or simply that money is a bad way to do it? If the latter, do you have any better suggestions on how to compare them?

    Does the paper have the subjects directly estimate the monetary equivalence? It seems to me like you could get a lot more accurate with more indirect methods. Off the top of my head, ask some subjects to estimate how much happier they’d be with some amount of money, and others how much worse off they’d be if they got divorced or something, and compare the hypothetical happiness levels to find an equivalence. Of course, that particular design wouldn’t work, but something like it would.

  • Patri Friedman

    I don’t think the rape analogy is very good, because it is such a different experience than cuckoldry. (Although I will say I’d take rape w/o AIDS over cuckoldry discovered years after the fact).

    Here’s my attempt at a better metaphor:

    The husband finds a woman he thinks is sexier than his wife, has sex with her, fertilizes her eggs, then removes them and implants the fertilized eggs in his wife’s uterus without her knowledge. She joyfully discovers she is pregnant, and they raise the kid together.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      So do any women have a preference between this scenario and rape?

      • Patri Friedman

        don’t see the relevance. Paternity testing is about cuckoldry, I thought you were using rape as a metaphor to help women understand why men might care a lot about preventing cuckoldry. This is an alternate metaphor which is a tighter parallel. If women agree that, if this tech existed, they would want maternity testing, they should be more sympathetic to men wanting paternity testing (or required paternity testing).

      • http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com Thursday

        The husband finds a woman he thinks is sexier than his wife, has sex with her, fertilizes her eggs, then removes them and implants the fertilized eggs in his wife’s uterus without her knowledge. She joyfully discovers she is pregnant, and they raise the kid together.

        Kind of irrelevant. Until recently this couldn’t happen, so there has been no reason for women to evolve any aversion to it.

        A sort of generalized “I want to raise kids” instinct in women may have been enough for the purposes of evolution, and may explain why women genuinely don’t understand why men are so obsessed with paternity.

  • http://denisbider.blogspot.com/ denis bider

    The Frijters effect, if it exists, may very well mean that women’s ways of coping with problems (self-expression, emoting, talking to friends) are much more effective than men’s ways of coping (suffering alone and in silence).

    Indeed, perhaps women’s ways are up to 6x more effective.

    • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

      “The Frijters effect” being the subject of the post.

  • Rose

    I think you like to shock/impress the reader more than you believe what you’re saying.

    • http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com Thursday

      I think women just don’t get how averse men are to this.

      • Millian

        I think Roissy fans like you and our good host shouldn’t speak on behalf of men as a whole, because they certainly don’t represent them.

  • http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.com Thursday

    To all these people saying that it’s impossible to compare rape to cuckoldry based on monetary value: are you saying that the disutility of the two events are truly incommensurate? That there’s no way to compare them? Or simply that money is a bad way to do it?

    There does seem to be a widespread aversion to putting a monetary value on certain “sacred” things. “How can you put a monetary value on that?”

    But what we are really trying to do here is to quantify and then compare the amount of pain caused by two different kinds of events. Which seems a perfectly legitimate thing to do.

    • Peter Twieg

      The banal point here is that it can be observed that women do put an implicit price on rape all the time when they engage in acts which marginally increase or decrease their chances of being raped. For example, if the elasticity of demand for pepper spray or other items meant to circumvent the risks of rape is greater than zero, then you have an implicit upper bound on how much women are willing to pay to avoid rape at the margin.

      Granted, there might be all sorts of cognitive biases that make the use of these implicit valuations dubious if one wants to generate a point estimate of the cost of rape, but any honest observer should be able to admit that women put prices on the chance of being raped, and from there it’s just a hop and a skip to arguing that there really is an implicit dollar valuation on rape.

  • http://www.abs-usa.com Floccina

    I’d prefer to be raped rather than cuckolded; any other men have a preference?

    Raped by a man or by a woman if you man by a man I would much rather be cuckold, if you mean by a woman I would much rather be raped.

  • Joel

    I never fully realized what a douche you are until now.

    “We all know that women tend to be more expressive about their complaints – you can’t beat ‘em for wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

    Seriously? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Is rehashing centuries-old tropes really the same thing as trying to overcome bias?

    This isn’t anything new to OB, you keep sprinkling otherwise interesting posts with irrelevant sexism. You’re way beyond biased, you’re a bigot.

    And as to whether it’s worse to be raped or cuckolded – I cannot even begin to understand the trauma or ostracization of the first (which by the way happens to A LOT more than two percent the population) while the second would only hurt because of the dishonesty. It’s a difference of several orders of magnitude!

    I hate to come across as a drama queen, but to me this marks the spot where OB stopped being worth reading.

    • JU

      I don’t see how the fact that those are “centuries-old tropes” invalidates them. Public opinion has turned against expressing those older phrases, but on average, who is to say that they are inaccurate? There are other century-old cliches that have turned out to be true.

      And in the United States, it does make sense to compare the ostracism faced from rape to the ostracism faced from cuckoldry. With all sorts of support networks, rape is rarely blamed on the woman; whereas cuckoldry could indicate low status in the male (he couldn’t please his wife) or low intellect. As far as I can tell, there is no study on the comparison of ostracism, but we are both running on assumptions. I would definitely not say it is a difference of several orders of magnitude.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    I just added to the post again.

  • thinker

    Another thing to consider here is that those men that have a fear (or inadequacy?) about being a high risk for being Cuckolded can simply enter into a contract with their partner (pre or post nuptial) that requires a paternity test upon birth of a child with outcomes specified. There is no need to demand or force this requirement upon the rest of society.

    It appears to be another attempt to place another control over women which we chide many “less-civilized” countries for doing in various legislated or religiously driven ways.

    This proposal is a step backwards I think. Is there a way forward here? What can the beta-male do to morally and ethically do to get passed their fears and have a happy, passionate & trusting relationship?

    • Linda Gottfredson’s Apprentice

      You are clearly not living up to your name, thinker.

      One of the main tenets of a lot of modern thinking is that people should not be constrained by biology.

      When a woman has a baby, she knows unambiguously that she is the mother and that she has contributed 50% (slightly more than 50% if the baby is male) of the genetic material to the baby.

      The putative father has no such knowledge, and depending on his SES, has anywhere from a 2% (some claim) to 50% chance of not being the father.

      In the spirit of not being constrained by biology women should offer DNA tests. Those that won’t clearly have something to hide.

      • thinker

        Okay. Let`s go with the constrained by biology bit. Women are constrained because they can get pregnant. Womeny cheat, they get risk getting pregnant, risking their relationship, and future support for their child. The DNA test will only prove who the father is not. The women may not even be able to find out who the father is. On her own, no support for the kid.

        Men cheat. No risk of pregnancy for them. Good chance they won`t be stuck paying for a kid if they do get someone else pregnant (no forced requirement for a DNA test). The mother may not even know that they are the father or be in a position to chace them down.

        So worst outcome because of biology for women – they could end up on their own with a kid to support on their own. Men, not so much.

        So again, this is an effort to control/constrain women. How much more power do we really need to transfer to men?

  • Linda Gottfredson’s Apprentice

    The equating of cuckolding with rape as being equivalently hurtful to males and females is wrong, I have finally decided.

    Cuckoldry is where a woman claims (perhaps implicitly if she is married) that the child she just had (or will have) is the child of her partner/husband and that he should support that child until it reaches some age. This is, of course, very important to most women of at least two groups. That is, she has lied to obtain support from the male she has lied to, probably because the real father wouldn’t or couldn’t provide support.

    Rape is where a man forcibly obtains sex from a woman who would probably never consent to provide sex (at least at that time) and has a number of other potential negative repercussions for the woman, including a potentially inferior child as well as rejection by other, higher quality future partners, not to mention the possibility of injury and disease. (Ignore also those cases where males use rape to punish or control women.)

    A better comparison is between cuckoldry and abandonment. That is, a man obtains sex from a woman with the explicit or implicit understanding that he will enter into a long term relationship with her and care for any children. He then walks away when she becomes pregnant.

    Of course, it is still not quite equivalent, because in the cuckoldry case, the man has no possibility of that offspring contributing to his reproductive success, and if the woman was successful in the cuckoldry, he probably has zero chance of any reproductive success. In the abandonment case, the woman’s offspring have some chance of reaching maturity and having offspring of their own, so her loss is less.

    Thus abandonment is almost as bad as cuckoldry.

  • thinker

    Ok. Discussed this at home. To balance things out:

    1. Mandatory DNA testing of child at birth.
    2. Mandatory DNA testing of any man a women claims that she has slept with (possible fathers) after she gives birth. Also mandatory support if fatherhood proven.
    3. Any man who claims he might be the father of a child can submit DNA to be tested for fatherhood.
    4. Mandatory support for biological children by the father, no matter what the state of the relationship or what his former partner may or may not have done to him.

    All above done with best levels of confidentiality of course!

  • Tyrrell McAllister

    I’m perplexed by the premise that

    the amount of money you will pay to avoid an event before it happens

    is proportional to

    the amount of pain you will suffer after the event happens.

    As I wrote in a comment to the prior post:

    Yes, the cuckold has “wasted” more energy on a child that is not his. But the argument translating this into an equal or greater feeling of trauma when he learns that he’s been cuckolded is weak. He might try as hard or harder to *avoid being cuckolded*, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll feel as traumatized when his efforts fail. By analogy, compare the powerful urge to orgasm with the muted and very temporary sense of well-being that follows the orgasm. An extreme urge or aversion to an event doesn’t necessarily translate into an extreme emotional reaction when the event actually happens. It’s unclear that feeling traumatized has the same future “payoff” for the cuckold that it has for the rape victim.

    Evolutionarily, the amount of pain is determined by the reproductive payoff from feeling the pain, not the reproductive cost of the event that caused the pain.

  • Jason Malloy

    It’s hard to say which one results in more pain, simply because there is no good data. Google Scholar gives 17,500 hits for ‘rape’ and ‘post traumatic stress disorder’, but 3 (irrelevant) hits for ‘non-paternity’ and ‘post traumatic stress disorder’. Social indifference to a class of pain could make it worse, or could make it less severe (to the extent that depression is unconsciously utilitarian).

    But violence, I think, is more likely to lead to stress and depression than non-violent traumas, and sexual violence is more likely to lead to trauma than non-sexual violence. So, a priori, I would believe that rape inflicts more psychological damage.

    It’s, of course, plausible to me that lots of legal actions cause greater objective amounts of pain than lots of illegal actions. For example, humiliating break-ups are more likely to cause major depression than the unexpected deaths of family and friends. Getting cheated on or lied to by a loved one is plausibly a much greater hit to well-being than getting mugged by a random thug. But we make a sharp legal distinction between the two. Perhaps uniquely from a historical vantage point, we increasingly consider sex and sexual choices a private matter, unregulated by law. (Until recently men could get in trouble if they obtained sex through phony promises of marriage — seemingly a superior analogy to cuckoldry than rape; especially where female marriageability holds real economic consequences.)

    This fits with my values, and I would say the same for cuckoldry if there were no legal ramifications surrounding fatherhood. But since there are, cuckoldry amounts to a severe form of fraud. Distinguishable from violence, but still a felonious injury. Bernie Madoff is not a violent thug, but he still inflicted pain and humiliation.

  • Linda Gottfredson’s Apprentice

    A few important points in thinking about cuckoldry.

    Women who successfully employ cuckoldry are removing the genes of males that allow women to engage in that behavior. That is, they are functioning as a form of purifying selection. Future generations will have fewer males that can be cuckolded.

    Males who successfully avoid being cuckolded will pass on the traits that helped them avoid being cuckolded, whatever they are. These might include using violence, mate guarding, demanding DNA tests up front, abandoning women where there is any suspicion that cuckoldry has occurred, etc.

    Males who are cuckolded might well feel intense pain and react with (possibly lethal) violence, but that generally will not do anything for their zero reproductive success, although it might damage the reproductive success of their partner.

    • WAlden

      You behave as if cuckoldry and it’s effect on selection is a new thing. It’s anywhere from 10,000 to 500 million years old. Evolution has already accounted for these selection factors. It’s why men get jealous and suspicious of women, sometimes violently so (ironically it seems it’s the men most likey to cheat themselves who get the most violent). It’s why men are more concerned about sexual infidelity while women are more concerned with emotional infildelity. I’m not sure there are (m)any more alleles swimming around in the gene pool to guard against cuckoldry these days than there were, say, 2,000 years ago.

      Successful cuckoldry in fact doesn’t favor the jealous man but favors the cad – the man who impregnated a woman he probably knew was spoken for, and who probably contributes nothing to the 20 year project that is the raising of a child – over the dad – the man who contributes, probably significantly, to the child’s upbringing. And yet, biologically, somehow the dads have survived – at least in certain societies. Perhaps because they do provide something that women want, that satisfies them, emotionally or in some other way. In the balance, “dad” is still the better evolutionary strategy. If you want to, trust but verify; get a paternity test, but don’t tell the Mrs. – unless the answer is the wrong one.

      It’s interesting though that our last two Democratic presidents have been fathered by cads, not dads. I’m not suggesting cads are smarter or make better leaders. Perhaps it’s the combination of having “game” and a lack of scruples. Casually bedding women means telling the women what they want to hear. Winning votes means telling the voters what they want to hear.

      As for the choice between cuckoldry on the one hand and rape of me, a man, by another man? Well both involve being dominated by another man – in one case one who is stealing your partner’s affections, perhaps because you can’t satisfy her in one or several ways, and in the other by a man who is physically present and using physical force to dominate you, another man. Both are pretty shameful. At least in the case of rape I’m not being lied to for some number of years and being robbed, as well – which isn’t to say I’d prefer the rape.

      What’s clear though is that society has not treated this as the problem it is. Society does not respect the cuckold, even to the point of not respecting his rights. He is often expected to pay for children that aren’t even his. He is derided by many for leaving children when he discovers he is not the father.

  • Cat Faber

    This is just crazy.

    Okay, truth and keeping promises is important; I understand that.

    But not as important as keeping people from being assaulted and murdered. And I guarantee you 100% that paternity tests for every baby would result in some men who are outraged to discover that they don’t actually control their wives assaulting and murdering the women who cuckolded them.

    Women’s lives are more important than men’s reproductive success.

    Plus, has anyone else noticed that paternity tests for every baby only place women at risk for being assaulted and murdered for unfaithfulness? Gosh, I wonder why that might be.

    So if there’s any idea whatsoever about being fair here, we’d have to put ankle tracers on every single man so if they break their marital promises their wives have an equal opportunity to assault and murder them.

    Bet that doesn’t sound as attractive, huh?

    A man who’s worried about his reproductive success should donate to a sperm bank, or hire a surrogate. This is just another excuse to increase the oppression of women.

    And the idea that someone breaking a promise to you equates to a violent assault would be laughable if it weren’t being used as an excuse to worsen the lot of women.

    • anon

      So if there’s any idea whatsoever about being fair here, we’d have to put ankle tracers on every single man so if they break their marital promises their wives have an equal opportunity to assault and murder them.

      Not a problem for me… as long as the wives are subsequently found guilty and sentenced for murder (without the usual “temporary insanity” or similar defenses which are routinely granted in such situations) or felonious assault and battery, as the case may be. As any man would be in a similar circumstance.

    • http://rhollerith.com/ Richard Hollerith

      When a man discovers that a woman who claims to be the mother of his child is really the mother of some other man’s child, is he _more_ likely to assault her or murder her than a homeowner is likely to assault or murder a burglar? If the burglar succeeds in removing everything of value from the home and fencing it, is the homeowner harmed _more_ than the man who parents a child for 18 years if the woman succeeds in deceiving him about the father of the child?

      By “harmed more” I mean “imposed through _trespassing and stealth_ or through _fraud_ undeserved opportunity costs upon”.

      • anon

        I don’t see your point. Yes, people do assault and sometimes kill burglars, but they mostly do so in order to defend their life and private property and avert the burglary attempt, not to retaliate against a successful burglary.

        Perhaps this is because burglars are criminally liable for what they do and cuckoding women are not. Unfortunately making women criminally liable for cuckoldry would be impractical and quite possibly unjust.

      • asd

        “Unfortunately making women criminally liable for cuckoldry would be impractical and quite possibly unjust.”

        What’s the impractical part? Infidelity already is a criminal offence in many societies.

      • http://rhollerith.com/ Richard Hollerith

        My point is that by the same logic of Kat Faber’s “This is just crazy” argument, we should oppose measures that help homeowners detect burglaries because it would tend to expose burglars to additional assaults and murders.

      • anon

        Some people are quite willing to oppose and regulate the ownership of guns, which help homewners detect (by clearing the house if necessary) and avert burglaries, while also placing burglars at risk.

    • WAlden

      And I guarantee you 100% that paternity tests for every baby would result in some men who are outraged to discover that they don’t actually control their wives assaulting and murdering the women who cuckolded them.

      Or maybe it would make women more likely to be faithful?

      I guarantee you though that the abortion rate would go up, as well.

  • Robert arbon

    I think you would change your mind if you had talked to some people who had been raped about their feelings. Sounds like glib contrariety.

  • spriteless

    Rape = battery. Cuckold = betrayal. I’d rather get hurt physically than betrayed. Makes sense. I think repeated abuse would be a fate worse than death, but some women don’t leave that relationship.

  • Bill

    This argument on which is worse, cuckholding or rape, is silly. What is worse, AIDS or cancer? Your answer will depend on you, how you got it, and the type of AIDS and the type of cancer. I would suggest that lung cancer at 88 is about the same as being cuckholded when you are 88, but not nearly as bad “world hunger.”

  • Marc

    I’d rather be cuckolded. No question.

    Cuckolded: I feel hurt, betrayed, and angry. I probably end, and thus lose, my marriage in response to the betrayal.

    Rape: I’d feel hurt, betrayed, angry, physically violated, unsafe in the world, and probably embarrassed to admit it, because I’d be afraid everybody would see a man who’d been raped as less of a man. In addition, I might well be physically injured in the process. It seems likely; I like to think I’d struggle. If raped by my wife, add in all the secondary effects that come with being cuckolded, only moreso.

    I’d really prefer nobody rape me, and I’d really prefer my wife not cheat on me, but if I have to pick one, I’m going to go with the one that doesn’t involve an assault upon my person, thankyouverymuch.

    There are seriously men out there who think they’d prefer to be raped? We’re really having this conversation? Amazing.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    I just added again to this post.

  • Brian Macker

    Cuckoldry carries about the same odds of contracting an STD. So the harm factor in that is about the same. The biological damage of raising a child that is not his is much more than a rape victims because at least she is investing in a child that is half hers. The cuckold victim might also loose his trust in women and become damaged goods, just like any rape victim.

    Also the victim of rape gets away from the perpetrator usually. The victim of cuckoldry is continuously victimized by the criminal in question. What’s worse is that if he never figures it out and all his children are impostors then then he is as biologically dead as if you had killed him. At least the rapists don’t sterilize their victims.

    The males consent to have sex with is partner is conditional. When those conditions are violated then the consent is no longer in effect. At that point the woman really is raping the man if rape is consent based.

    • Nick Tarleton

      The biological damage of raising a child that is not his is much more than a rape victims because at least she is investing in a child that is half hers…. if he never figures it out and all his children are impostors then then he is as biologically dead as if you had killed him.

      Biological harm isn’t actual harm (though it is predictive of how harmful something will be experienced as by the victim).

      • Bob

        Biological harm is the ultimate actual harm. It negates his entire existence.

      • http://www.givinggladly.com/ juliawise

        So childless people, or adoptive parents, are negated?  As if they didn’t exist?  Despite the enjoyment they get from their lives, and all the other lives they affect for better or worse in any manner not done through sperm and eggs?  Wow.

  • http://impearls.blogspot.com/ Michael McNeil

    While I agree with you that I don’t think less of a man who has been cuckolded, historically it has been considered shameful.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Order-cuckoldry-ca1815-French-satire.jpg
    This picture shows cuckolded men growing horns. In fact, I once heard that it is where the whole make-devil-horns-on-your-classmate thing in photographs came from.

    Historically and culturally, that’s still a very provincial viewpoint, at least as far as the “shameful” character of a man’s being cuckolded is concerned. As Paul Veyne writes in A History of Private Life concerning the Romans:

    A woman was like a grown child; her husband was obliged to humor her because of her dowry and her noble father. Cicero and his correspondents gossip about the caprices of these lifelong adolescents, who, for example, might seize upon the absence of a husband sent to govern a remote province in order to divorce him and marry another. These women’s antics nevertheless had real consequences for political relations among the nobility. Needless to say, it was impossible for a woman to make a fool of her lord and master. Cuckoldry (as we know it from Molière) was not a part of the Romans’ conceptual universe. Had it been, Cato, Caesar, and Pompey would all have been illustrious cuckolds. A man was the master of his wife, just as he was the master of his daughters and servants. If his wife was unfaithful, the man did not thereby become a laughingstock. Infidelity was a misfortune, neither greater nor less than the misfortune of a daughter who became pregnant or a slave who failed of his duty. If a wife betrayed her husband, the husband was criticized for want of vigilance and for having, by his own weakness, allowed adultery to flourish in the city — much as we might criticize parents for overindulging or spoiling their children, allowing them to drift into delinquency and thus making the cities unsafe. The only way for a husband or father to avoid such an accusation was to be the first to publicly denounce any misconduct by members of his family. The emperor Augustus detailed the affairs of his daughter Julia in an edict; Nero did the same for the adultery of his wife, Octavia. The point was to prove that the man had no “patience,” that is, connivance, with vice. People wondered whether the stoic silence of other husbands deserved praise or blame.

    Because deceived husbands were aggrieved rather than risible and divorced women took their dowries with them, divorce was common among the upper class (Caesar, Cicero, Ovid, and Claudius married three times), and perhaps also among the urban plebs.
    Juvenal tells of a woman of the people who consults an itinerant soothsayer about whether she should leave her tavernkeeper husband to marry a secondhand clothing merchant (a prosperous profession in a time when the lower orders bought their clothing used). Nothing was more alien to the Romans than the biblical notion of taking possession of the flesh. Roman men did not hesitate to marry divorced women. The emperor Domitian remarried a women he had divorced, who had subsequently married another man. For a women to have known only one man in her life was considered a merit, but only the Christians would undertake to make such fidelity a duty and attempt to prohibit widows from remarrying.

  • http://grendelkhan.livejournal.com grendelkhan

    This prompts me to propose a thought experiment.

    Consider a long-term fraud that costs the victim their livelihood, something that took many years to build, and then consider a violent assault from which the victim eventually recovers physically. We consider the latter more reprehensible; we sanction the offender more forcefully, blame the victim less (people avoid reporting fraud because they’re ashamed to have fallen for it; this isn’t a problem with aggravated assault), and in general consider it to be a greater crime.

    If, when sex is added to the equation (sex-based fraud, sex-based violence), your perception of the relative severity of offense changes, isn’t it possible that it’s due less to majestic principles of philosophy, and more due to a propensity to consider violence done to female bodies to count less, and fraud perpetrated on male egos to count more?

    • Doug S.

      For what it’s worth, my mom once said that she’d rather be raped than lose her life savings. (She was born in 1948.)

      • http://monster0.org monsterzero

        The whole “worth” comparison falls down once you realize that a dollar can’t be worth the same to the average man as it is to the average woman. Not when there’s such a large disparity in wealth and income.

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  • Brienne Strohl

    There are many comments and I’ve not read them all. My apologies if this has already been covered.

    >The lifetime boost to happiness that flows from a birth – for the mother around $8700, for the father $32,600.

    Do you know if they ruled out the possibility that Aussie women value marginal *money* more than men do? Perhaps $8,700 out of the blue is a much bigger deal to women. I would predict at least some of this effect from both pay differences and the relatively dependent gender role women are expected to play. A small amount of money for a woman might feel like greater independence, security, and power, while to men it might feel like the prospect of a not especially impressive new toy. Men do not traditionally receive engagement rings with expensive stones on them because men don’t need them. Recovering from disasters is economically easier for white cisgendered straight men than for anyone else. I highly doubt that the disparity is actually big enough to account for this, but it may at least be exaggerating the difference here. The article you site neither discusses this nor links to the original publication of the results, so I don’t whether we can dismiss this possibility.

    >Roissy did a poll of his male readers; over 3/4 prefer rape to cuckoldry.

    Similarly, rape is almost certainly not as frightening a prospect to most men as to most women. Men have spent relatively little time imagining the prospect. Women, on the other hand, are taught from childhood not to walk alone at night, how to use pepper spray, and not to wear revealing clothing in certain parts of town. I actually think much of the psychological harm rape does, and probably *most* of the harm, results from the cultural construct rather than the physical activity. Otherwise, whether women would be equally afraid of getting mugged and beaten up would depend on whether they have access to emergency birth control. There’s nothing magic about sex; there’s just a very strong meme that women who have it are bad. Men face no such meme.