Years of scientific research have shown that monogamy, or the idea of one man mating with one women for their entire lives, is better than polygamy. However, could science on human mating behavior be biased, or even wrong? One study argues that the concept of monogamy is so deep-rooted into human morality that many researchers may unconsciously skew their work to favor monogamous relationships, when nature has a different idea in mind.

The study, soon to be published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, suggests past research on the benefits of monogamy in human relationships may not be as accurate as we think. Instead, it is likely skewed by bias and cultural pressure to promote a socially accepted way of life, The Independent reported. The new research says that consensually non-monogamous relationships, in which partners are aware that their mates have other sexual partners, are just as stable and functional as monogamous ones.

Read: Lack Of Penis Bone In Humans Linked To Monogamous Relationships, Quick Sex

“The premise that monogamy is superior to other types of non-monogamous relational arrangements continues to permeate the ways in which researchers construct and test theories of love and intimacy,” lead study author Terri Conley told The Independent.

For their research, the team from the University of Michigan had 2,000 people in self-described “consensually non-monogamous relationships” fill out a survey regarding factors such as the levels of jealousy, passion, trust and general satisfaction they had in their relationships. Results showed that non-monogamous relationships had generally the same amounts of these factors as traditional monogamous relationships, suggesting that one really wasn’t better than the other.

Most modern cultures and religions teach that one man should mate with one woman for life, and they shun infidelity and sex outside of this sacred union of marriage as the ultimate taboo. However, human DNA paints a different picture, and suggests at one point it was the default for men to father children with multiple women, Scientific American reported. In fact, while social monogamy, or raising a family with one partner while still having several sexual partners throughout a lifetime, is popular in nature, true sexual monogamy is extremely rare. So rare that scientists still aren’t exactly sure as to why it even exists in the first place, LiveScience reported.

In most accounts, monogamy seems to be detrimental to the future of a species, as it asks that an individual animal put their entire reproductive investment on the fitness of one chosen mate, and as the laws of nature (and the divorce rate) show, humans, as well as other living creatures, often make mistakes.

The University of Michigan study isn’t exactly telling us to throw away the concept of marriage and jump into polygamous relationships, but rather argues that unconscious bias can seep into scientific research. So, it may be best to take some study conclusions, especially those about love and relationships, with healthy skepticism. If some researchers can be biased toward a positive view of monogamy, others could be biased toward a positive view of polygamy.  

See Also:

Til Death Do Us Part: The Evolution Of Monogamy

New Sexual Revolution: Should You Be In An Open Relationship?