Question by Jesse Pinkman – No Gurlz Allowəd!: How would Evolutionary Psychology explain the existence and persistence of fetishes?
I’m personally rather repulsed by feet. Disgusted, actually. I don’t get it. However, it is one of the more common fetishes.
If the Evolutionary Model of Psychology were sound, how would such a fetish manage to be passed down from generation to generation even though it had not reproductive value? In fact, it may have a rather negative effect on one’s ability to procreate.
Answer by AyeHye
Fetishes really aren’t passed down from generation to generation. I’ve never seen a hint of evidence that a foot fetishist’s son is any more likely to be a foot fetishist than the general public. There are probably no “foot fetish” genes.
I tend to side with Freud: human sexuality develops much earlier than many people are comfortable thinking about, and young children are far more sexual than many people like to admit. I think sexuality largely develops before puberty, in those ages we can hardly even remember. And it’s then that we learn what feels good and what doesn’t (and what strangely seems to do both) when we interact with the opposite sex.
So I think fetishes and paraphilia tend to take root even before the age of six, often for reasons we’re not even conscious of and can never trace back.
I don’t think evolution selects for them… but it doesn’t seem to select against them, either. Guys with foot fetishes probably don’t have significantly less offspring than guys without them – and even if this were the case, we can see from the continued existence of gays and lesbians that, as a species, individuals are not always selected for maximum fertility.
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