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. 2006 Oct;17(10):830-5.
doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01789.x.

Major Histocompatibility Complex Alleles, Sexual Responsivity, and Unfaithfulness in Romantic Couples

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Major Histocompatibility Complex Alleles, Sexual Responsivity, and Unfaithfulness in Romantic Couples

Christine E Garver-Apgar et al. Psychol Sci. .

Abstract

Preferences for mates that possess genes dissimilar to one's own at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a polymorphic group of loci associated with the immune system, have been found in mice, birds, fish, and humans. These preferences may help individuals choose genetically compatible mates and may adaptively function to prevent inbreeding or to increase heterozygosity and thereby immunocompetence of offspring. MHC-dissimilar mate preferences may influence the psychology of sexual attraction. We investigated whether MHC similarity among romantically involved couples (N= 48) predicted aspects of their sexual relationship. All women in our sample normally ovulated, and alleles at three MHC loci were typed for each person. As the proportion of MHC alleles couples shared increased, women's sexual responsivity to their partners decreased, their number of extrapair sexual partners increased, and their attraction to men other than their primary partners increased, particularly during the fertile phase of their cycles.

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