more on the cinderella effect

greying wanderer suggested the other day that a murderous person would prolly stab a stranger with a knife up “to the hilt,” but if he went to stab his brother, he might, at the last second, have a change of heart and only stab the blade in an inch or two.

there might be something to that notion. what he said reminded of something i read a while ago now, around the time i had a couple of posts about the cinderella effect, i.e. that step-parents generally don’t treat their step-kids as well as biological parents do. this makes sense, of course, if you keep inclusive fitness in mind, ’cause step-parents are (usually) not related to their step-kids.

what i read was a really interesting, but depressing (esp. for a chick, i think), article entitled “Some Differential Attributes of Lethal Assaults on Small Children by Stepfathers versus Genetic Fathers.” what the researchers found was that, not only do step-parents kill their step-kids at much greater rates on average than biological parents, but that when they do, it’s usually a more violent, brutal affair. when biological parents do kill their own kids, they tend to do it in a rather clean, almost humane way. and they more often kill themselves as well afterwards.

“Killings of children less than five years of age by stepfathers versus (putative) genetic fathers are compared on the basis of Canadian and British national archives of homicides. In addition to previously reported differences in gross rates, the two categories of killings differed in their attributes. Beatings constituted a relatively large proportion of steppaternal homicides, whereas genetic fathers were relatively likely to shoot or asphyxiate their victims. A substantial proportion of killings by genetic fathers, but almost none of those by stepfathers, were accompanied by suicide and/or uxoricide. These contrasts lend support to the hypothesis that the differential risks incurred by children in different household types reflect the differential parental solicitude that is predictable from an evolutionary model of parental motivation.”

here are some charts.

methods of killing of children under five, canadian study — that first category is “beat”:

methods of killing of children under five, uk study — the categories from left to right are “hit, kick, blunt object,” “shoot,” “suffocate, strangle, exhaust fumes,” and “all other”:

relatedness matters. even — or maybe especially — in the most gruesome scenarios.

so, if you’re a parent, and you’re thinking of re-marrying (or re-shacking-up, altho that’s prolly a bad idea anyway), CHOOSE CAREFULLY.

btw — you would think that it would also make a difference if, say, a child was mixed-race or mixed-something. in such a case, the biological parent would clearly be less genetically related to their child than in a family that was 100% swedish or chinese, for example. not to mention all the cousin-marriage scenarios i’ve been talking about (ad nauseum). you would think, all else being equal (like economic circumstances), that there ought to be less child killing by parents in a place like saudi arabia.

and, that’s all i’m going to write about this subject (for now anyway), ’cause it’s just too d*rn sad.

previously: evo psych in need of a little hbd? and killing kids & step-kids, part ii and the cinderella effect, again… and even plants do it and more plants playing favorites

(note: comments do not require an email. right face! march!)

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7 Comments

  1. “btw — you would think that it would also make a difference if, say, a child was mixed-race or mixed-something.”

    Yeah it does, although you won’t ever see honest stats on it.

    .
    “so, if you’re a parent, and you’re thinking of re-marrying (or re-shacking-up, altho that’s prolly a bad idea anyway), CHOOSE CAREFULLY.”

    It’s funny, i’ve been telling women for years, based simply on unconsciously-digested experience, that if they already have kids they should only hook up with men who look like they could be the father. This was before i’d given any thought to genetic distance but i think that’s basically it.

    Obviously this is massively multiplied for men with low self-control compared with high.

    .
    “not to mention all the cousin-marriage scenarios i’ve been talking about. you would think, all else being equal (like economic circumstances), that there ought to be less child killing by parents in a place like saudi arabia”

    Too few examples to make a certain argument but i think it may be a case of too close equals more incest and too far equals more violence. Makes me think of that Darwinian 3rd or 4th cousin sweet-spot again.

    (Also proportional to restraint so the effect wouldn’t be constant across a whole population or if it was it would taper dramatically according to the level of restraint.)

    .
    When you think about all this stuff it makes you see why trad marriage had evolved the way it had. I wouldn’t be 100% keen on going back to that exactly but if you look at this stuff a lot of babies were thrown out with the 60s bathwater.

    Reply

  2. @g.w. – “When you think about all this stuff it makes you see why trad marriage had evolved the way it had. I wouldn’t be 100% keen on going back to that exactly….”

    me, neither, but i must admit that the more i think it through, the more i’m leaning that way. at least i think that part of the reason western civilization is (was) so great was due to pretty strongly enforced monogamy plus little cousin marriage. the combination enables good things like independence (altho too much of a good thing…), prolly higher iq, and the fact that almost all men get a chance to mate, including geeks who might lose out in the social scene but are the ones that engineer the aqueducts and space shuttles.

    Reply

  3. “and the fact that almost all men get a chance to mate, including geeks who might lose out in the social scene but are the ones that engineer the aqueducts and space shuttles.”

    Yes

    Reply

  4. I wish someone would do a study on this, despite the difficulty in collecting data. News stories which document such instances seem to be both little publicized and quickly hidden. I tried to find stories regarding two local instances without success, though I clearly recall the general facts (black boyfriend murders child of white girlfriend). The articles seem to have disappeared.

    But here’s two representative incidents:

    http://www.theindychannel.com/news/18154187/detail.html#-

    http://www.forgottenvictims.com/Ryon%20Smith.htm

    Reply

  5. “I wish someone would do a study on this”

    Yes. It’s yet another example of how the refusal to tell the truth – both from the trad. marriage angle and the genetic distance angle – gets innocent people killed.

    Reply

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