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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Aug 22;268(1477):1677-84.

A latent variable model of developmental instability in relation to men's sexual behaviour.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


A single trait's fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is expected to be a poor measure of developmental instability. Hence, studies that examine associations between FA and outcomes expected to covary with developmental instability often have little power in detecting meaningful relationships. One way of increasing the power of detecting relationships between developmental instability and outcomes is through the use of multiple traits' FA. The way multiple traits have typically been used is in trait aggregates. Here, we illustrate another way of examining relationships with developmental instability using multiple traits' FA: through structural equation modelling. Covariances between measures of FA and an outcome variable are interpreted within the context of an explicit model of associations between variables, which is tested for fit and the parameters specified within the model are estimated. We used nine traits' FA as markers of a latent variable of men's developmental instability, which was associated with the number of sexual partners. The results indicate a sizeable correlation between developmental instability and men's sexual history, despite small correlations between individual traits' FA and sexual history.

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