Smart Men are Monogamous
A new study by Satoshi Kanazawa at the London School of Economics has shown that the higher a man’s IQ is, the more likely he is to be be liberal, an atheist, and — get this! — sexually exclusive. Nobody’s surprised by the first two, but number three is a shocker.
Sexually exclusivity for men, as the study notes, does not obviously contribute to the evolutionary success of high IQ males — in fact, just the opposite. (Though the truth about the relationship between evolutionary success and high male IQ may be more subtle). Women, I should add, are also more likely to be atheists and liberals if they are very smart, but are not more or less likely to be sexually exclusive. (What to make of that is anybody’s guess.) I find this to be delightful, strangely comforting, and puzzling, so I have been asking friends, relatives and fellow professors what they make of this new statistic.
Here are some of the theories that have been advanced:
(1) The smarter men are, the less psychologically stable they are. They find that stability in a partner, and so quite sensibly avoid losing their psychological footing by playing around. (This is my own theory, which tells you something about Clancy.)
(2) The smarter men are, the more they value financial success. Cheating, as anyone can tell you, is always expensive (hotels, flowers, champagne, shoes), and sometimes ruinously so (divorce, child support). So, smart men keep their pants zipped and their wallets in their pockets. (If this is the reason, it depresses me. But several male friends suggested it.)
(3) The smarter men are, the greater respect they have for rules and promises. I find this to be hilariously implausible, but remember, I know a lot of philosophers. Smart men, in short, have a higher inclination to be moral (Nietzsche is rolling in his grave–though of course in his own life he followed a very strict moral code. In fact he complained that when Lou Salome told him he had no morality, he misunderstood her to mean that she had, like him, a much higher and stricter morality.)
(4) Smarter men have lower sex drives. (Suggested by several female friends of mine, and no males.) I refuse to countenance this impertinent suggestion.
(5) Intelligent men are less likely to view women as “sex objects,” and in general tend to have greater respect for women (and what about gay men? I wonder). This is my wife’s view, I am pleased to say, but she may only have been flattering me.
(6) Intelligent men tend to be less self-confident with women, to flirt less often and less effectively, and generally are more prone to self-doubt and shyness. These same intelligent men are astonishingly dumb when it comes to recognizing sexual invitations from women. (Many female friends offered this view, which seems to me to be highly plausible).
(7) Adam Phillips — I did not speak with him directly, I should say — argues that monogamy is a way of reducing the number of versions of ourselves, “a way of convincing ourselves that some versions are truer than others–that some are special,” as he writes in “On Monogamy.” This relates, I think, to the view I offered in (1). On this account, men with higher IQs feel a greater need for “a special self” or (stronger) an “authentic self,” and the naivete that comes along with such a need might explain why the need was peculiar to men and not women (at least, vis a vis sexual exclusivity and IQ). Women seem, speaking very broadly and thus perhaps stupidly, to be more sophisticated than men on the question of “what it is to be a self” (just read Irigaray’s “This Sex Which is Not One,” and she will convince you that, at the very least, women are more subtle and complex when it comes to their thinking about selfhood).
(8) Okay, fellas: if you’re smart and monogamous, you are not going to like this one. I have been reading all over the place about this phenomenon, and though very little research has been done on it — the study with which I began really is groundbreaking — here is some speculation from the New York Times’ hot-babe evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson: “Perhaps it will turn out…that men with large testicles (anticipating a high risk of sperm competition) are prone to seducing other men’s wives and have difficulty forming lasting bonds, whereas men with small testicles (anticipating a low risk of sperm competition) are prone to sexual fidelity and jealousy and turn all lovey-dovey after sex.” (You can read more about this in her best-selling book “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation,” in the section Till Death Do Us Part.”) Of course it does not follow from this that smart men have small testicles, or that dumb men are luckily endowed: Aristotle, we know, was very unfortunate in the “does size matter?” department, and the wise, peaceable mountain gorilla tends to be both very monogamous, and endowed with unusually small testicles. But the interesting connection is still worth mentioning.
That’s enough theories to get the discussion started, in any event. I hope readers will be tempted to weigh in on this one. I’m writing a book about sex right now, and I need all the help I can get. (With the book, that is; my wife takes care of the sex end of things very nicely, thank you very much.)
Photo by kainr
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