Kin Detection and the Development of Sexual Aversions: Toward an Integration of Theories on Family Sexual Abuse

Ilanit Tal, Debra Lieberman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Although much is known about the consequences of sexual abuse and the characteristics of the individuals and families involved, these pieces of information have yet to be arranged to form a clear picture of why sexual abuse occurs. This chapter provides an account of how an evolutionary computational framework can help organize what is currently known about sexual abuse and provide a set of answers to the question of why it happens. It focuses specifically on one component of our evolved psychology hypothesized to play a significant role in explaining why sexual abuse occurs: inbreeding avoidance mechanisms. Identifying the cues our evolved psychology uses to detect kin and generate sexual aversions towards them can help illuminate why sexual aversions fail to develop, leading, in some circumstances, to an increased risk of incest or sexual abuse within the family.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFamily Relationships: An Evolutionary Perspective
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199786800, 9780195320510
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Computational framework
  • Inbreeding avoidance
  • Incest
  • Mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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