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Evolution May Explain Why Testosterone Levels Drop When Men See the Wife Next Door

Update Date: Mar 21, 2013 12:09 PM EDT

It seems the schoolboy fantasy of the girl next door doesn't evolve into desire for the wife next door, a new study found.

A new study published in the journal Human Nature found testosterone levels in adult males drop when they interact with the wives of their close friends.

Researchers said that latest findings might offer insight into the biological mechanisms that keep men from constantly competing for each other's partners and how people manage to cooperate in society.

Researchers explained that men' testosterone levels tend to spike when they are interacting with a potential sexual partner or an enemy's partner.

"Although men have many chances to pursue a friend's mate, propositions for adultery are relatively rare on a per opportunity basis," researcher Mark Flinn, professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Science, said in a statement.

"Our findings suggest that men's minds have evolved to foster a situation where the stable pair bonds of friends are respected," he said.

Researchers believe their latest findings on the biology of human nature might even help solve global problems.

"Ultimately, our findings about testosterone levels illuminate how people have evolved to form alliances," Flinn said.

"Using that biological understanding of human nature, we can look for ways to solve global problems," he explained. "The same physiological mechanisms that allow villages of families to coexist and cooperate can also allow groups like NATO and the U.N. to coordinate efforts to solve common problems. The more we view the Earth as a single community of people, the greater our ability to solve mutual threats, such as climate change."

Evolutionarily speaking, betraying a friend's trust and endangering the stability of families may have caused a survival disadvantage for entire communities. Researchers explained that a community of men who didn't trust each other would be weak and vulnerable to attack and conquest. Therefore, the costs of an untrustworthy reputation would have outweighed the benefits of having extra offspring with a friend's mate.

The myth of Camelot illustrates how adultery can disband a great society. In the story, Sir Lancelot betrayed King Arthur by seducing Guinevere.  Afterwards, the fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table disintegrated and the kingdom fell. Researchers explained that once trust was lost, the alliance of powerful males could no longer maintain itself. 

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