Evolutionary Theory for Aggression

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  • Evolutionary Theory for Aggression
    • Sexual Selection
      • Females are more choosy than males due to their higher parental investment (women are limited to the number of children they have) :. males have to compete for females. Males & females have different roles in raising offspring but share the main aim to have successful offspring who will continue on their genes.
        • Males use agg to gain status which makes them more attractive to females.
        • Jealousy comes from a fearof infidelity. Men fear cockoldry although the risks of this are high for women (reaction/retaliation of male) the risks are even higher for men (wasting resources & reproductive oppertunity).
          • Mate retention is driven by jealousy & is a way of dealing with paternal uncertainity. It serves to prevent females mating with other males.
        • Male on male agg is motivated by sexual jealousy & acts as a warning to potential rivals. Male on female agg deters females from behaviour not in males interests. Male on child agg occurs when males are reluctant to expend resources on offspring of another male.
        • In females the cost of agg outweighs the benefits so women are less agg. A females presence is critical for the survival of offspring so they use low risk strategies (gossiping) & will only use direct agg when competing for resources that will aid survival.
      • There are many studies to support this factor.
        • Young: asked students to describe their response to a jealousy inducing scenario. Men reported responses of anger, becoming drunk, threatening rival. Women reorted responses of crying, pretending not to care, trying to increase own atractiveness to regain males attention.
        • Farthing: surveyed whether men & women desired physical risk takers as partners, result was only when risks were considered 'brave' was there a significant advantage in mate selection.
        • Steams: claim females may choose mates that exhibit braery, as these genes will be advantageous to the group in the future as producing brave offspring will make them successful at defending the group
        • Daley & Wilson: claim that men have evolved a number of mate retention strategies anging from vigilance to violence to deter mates from either leaving them or commiting adultery.
          • Retaining a mate is of great importance to the male as without one to bear & raise his offspring the chance of passing on his genes is reduced.
        • Miller: found 55% of battered wives cited jealousy as the reason for their husbands behaviour.
        • Lalemiere et al: state some men carry out partner rape in order to increase paternal certainty.
    • Natural Selection
      • Some physical characteristics such as agg would have made it more likely that our ancestors survived (more successful) & passed on their genes, so agg is an adative response.
        • Agg is a natural behaviour shared by most animal species, In animals there is ritualised agg where there is rarely any real damage done eg stags rutting; they dont fight to the death to compete for a mate & have developed appeasement tactics to diffuse the situation.
          • Animal agg is similar to human agg, it can be ritualised, motivated by fear, reproduction & hunger. However humans make it more destructive eg gang warfare, ethnic cleansing & use of weapons.
            • This suggests agg in humans is not just adaptive as they take it a step further than animals. It also means that animal studies may not be transferable in this area.
      • Advantages of having agg behaviour include for: self defence (fight or flight response), response to living in groups (defining in/out group), gain/defend territory & resources, aquisition of social status,  & sexual competition/mate retention.
      • Chagnon: found in Yanomano tribes there were frequent fights between villages over the abduction of women.
      • Chiglier: observed male lions & cheetahs killing offspring of rival males so his genes were not passed on.
    • Murder
      • Murder is a high risk strategy & would need to have benefits that outweigh this for it to be adaptive. Common reasons for murder are: sexual jealousy (samesex agg) due to the association between infidelity & cockoldry, lack of resources (increase male-male competition & risk of murder due to females being attracted to men with resources), threats to male status.
        • Wilson: found 92% of murders in 8 studies invloving love triangles involved males killing males.
        • Wilson: argued women are more attracted to men who are dominant over other males so :. males seek status. They found murders in Detroit were motivated by status & performed by uemployed, unmarried young men.
        • Most victims & perpertrators in homocides are men. Women are more likely to kill in self defence.
    • Group Display
      • People behave differently when in groups, we have evoleved to be social creatures as group behaviour can be advantageous to the individuals who make up the group.
        • eg warfare is risky for individuals involved however it is good for gaining resources & territory, protecting females & offspring.
          • Comparitive evidence of chimps shows when attacking another group for territory, are strategic & make noise to scare off aponents. This is simialr to military processions where soldiers display strength, co-ordination & act as a deterant to possible attack.
          • When a common enemy is found group members focus on their similarities & work together eg World Wars
          • Sexual selection plays a part as bravery is seen as attractive as it provides protection.
        • eg sports events (competitive sports eg football) show agg by both sports people & supporters.
          • Natural selection has favoured members of a group to be suspicious of outsiders (xenehobia) which explains indirect agg in football crowds eg ritualised chanting, wearing team colours, football songs, chasing off other side at the end of the match.
            • It rarely results in real agg however this could be down to police presence.
            • The power of xenephobia has motivated clubs to take stes to minimise its influence eg a Geramny team played wearing tshirts with the slgan 'my friend is a foregner' on it.
            • Evans & Rowe: analysed 40 football games played in Europe by England & found far morecrowd trouble reported in international games.
          • Another explanation of this is that it increases status & personal worth of member of the group who have little status elsewhere eg work, school, home. This explains why football hooligans tend to be young male & working class.
    • Evaluation of Evo theory as a whole.
      • Supported by many studies, difficult to falsify as you can make the evidence fit theory easily.
      • Fails tto account for ind diff; why people react differently to the same situation eg male reaction to female infidility.
      • Fails to explain why some cultures seem to require male violence & others frown upon it.
      • Brings into question law & punishment system if we have no free will.
      • Social theory provides alternative explanation, however it can be said that social behaviour is adaptive & :. evolutionary.
      • Supported by bio theory of genetics.
  • Supported by many studies, difficult to falsify as you can make the evidence fit theory easily.
  • Reductionist to biology, reducing to simple genetic pressure :. deterministic as violence is down to inborn agg instincts.


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