Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meta-Study on Paternity Confidence

"Here’s an unpleasant figure for a man to ponder: 10 percent of all children conceived in the context of a marriage (or a less formal heterosexual pairing) have been fathered by someone from outside the couple. “Dad” has been cuckolded. Or so many biologists and anthropologists have been saying for decades.

But in the June issue of Current Anthropology, Kermyt G. Anderson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, cast serious doubt on the 10 percent figure. Girlfriends and wives, it seems, are less worthy of distrust than many scientists have thought. “The upshot,” Anderson says, “is that you shouldn’t be worried, if you are pretty sure the kid is yours.”

Anderson’s was a meta-study: he examined every paper or reference he could locate that touched on the topic. First he identified 22 studies, dating back to 1949, in which men with few or no doubts about their paternity learned that they weren’t related to one of “their” kids. These studies were mostly designed to explore genetically linked traits in fathers and children. Presumably, if you or your wife suspected you were unrelated to a child, you’d find an excuse not to take part in a genetic study like that, so Anderson determined that these men had high paternity confidence. Collectively in these studies, only 1.7 percent of men learned they were not the true fathers." By Christopher Shea, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 12-11-06 NVS)

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