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Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences

Relationship status and elevated avuncularity in Samoan fa’afafine

By Doug P. VanderLaan and Paul L. Vasey,, 2012

“Androphilia” and “gynephilia” refer to sexual attraction to adult males and females, respectively. Samoan androphilic males are known as fa’afafine. Previously, fa’afafine reported greater avuncular tendencies compared to those of men as well as the materteral (i.e., aunt-like) tendencies of women. Here, the Samoan male sexual orientation difference in avuncular tendencies was replicated. Furthermore, we hypothesized fa’afafine might form and invest in intimate sexual/romantic relationships less, leaving them with more resources, thus facilitating increased avuncularity. Fa’afafine, men, and women were comparable for sexual/romantic relationship involvement. Men and women tended to lower avuncular/materteral tendencies when involved in sexual/romantic relationships, which partially mediated the difference between fa’afafine and women for avuncular/materteral tendencies. Discussion detailed alternate explanations for elevated avuncularity among Samoan fa’afafine.

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