Social Question

talljasperman's avatar

Does group celibacy naturally eliminate the groups effect on the gene pool?

Asked by talljasperman (21866points) March 22nd, 2011

and breed out the traits of the people that practice celibacy

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6 Answers

josie's avatar

Seems like a more than reasonable assumption

janbb's avatar

It would appear tp be self-evident.

crisw's avatar

Possibly, but not certainly.

If the celibates assist in the care of their relatives and thus increase the reproductive fitness of relatives, more so than they would have done by reproducing themselves, then it’s actually a good gene survival strategy to be celibate. This is what wolves do, for example. If all wolves bred, most pups would starve. If only the alphas breed, and the others (who are related to the alphas) assist in caring for the pups, thus increasing pup survival rates, then being celibate if you are a beta wolf is the best strategy.

This strategy is fairly common in social species, from wolves to acorn woodpeckers.

wundayatta's avatar

@crisw I’ve seen that theory as an explanation for why homosexuality persists. However, it’s not clear to me how it works. The alpha person would want to reproduce, but they would also carry a gene that appears in some of their progeny which suppresses their desire or need to reproduce?

I suppose. The non-reproduction gene could be activated in certain circumstances—say famine, or too many other children, but not be activated during times of plenty.

However, in this case, it would appear that celibacy is a choice, instead of something being determined by a genetic predisposition. It might be influence by beliefs or personal preferences. It would be interesting to see if celibate people are randomly distributed around the world or if it is correlated with some other factors.

crisw's avatar


As to how it works- we do know it can work in some species, because, as I mentioned, it’s found in several social species. I presume the mediator is hormonal and behavioral. I did a brief search and didn’t find much; I’ll see if I can find something on this. It probably doesn’t apply to humans; I was looking more as to how this strategy works in those species that do have it.

janbb's avatar

i took “group celibacy” to mena a whole segment of a society that had decided on celibacy, like several of the 19th century Utopian societies. Enforced celibacy was the reason many of those societies died out; they weren’t able to attract or produce new members.

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